Top stories: Homebrewed heroin, jumping spiders, and fusion energy
(Left to right) Markus Müschen/UCSF; ©CCFE; Jurgen Otto

Top stories: Homebrewed heroin, jumping spiders, and fusion energy

Study may explain mysterious cancer–day care connection

Children who go to day care when they're young are less likely to develop acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common childhood cancer. Now, a new study may explain why early exposure to infections in places like day cares seems to protect against the disease.

The new shape of fusion

Fusion has the potential to be the perfect energy source—safe, clean, and limitless—but scientists are struggling to make it work. Now, a change of shape may turn the mainstream reactor design, known as a tokamak, into something simpler, faster, and cheaper—and bring us closer to achieving fusion energy.

Researchers closer to engineering yeast that make morphine

Scientists are getting close to engineering yeast that makes morphine, codeine, and other opiates. If they succeed, we'll be able to cheaply produce better versions of these medicines. But it’s not all good news: The new yeast strains could allow drug dealers to convert sugar to heroin as easily as homebrewers make beer.

Arctic find confirms ancient origin of dogs

The discovery of a wolf bone in Siberia confirms that dogs do in fact have ancient origins. Analysis of the bone suggests that our canine pals originated more than 30,000 years ago.

Yeast can live with human genes

Yeast and humans have been evolving along separate paths for 1 billion years, but there’s still a strong family resemblance. After inserting more than 400 human genes into yeast cells, researchers found that almost half of the human genes actually worked and kept the yeast alive!

Are Mars's moons homegrown—or snatched from the asteroid belt?

Mars has two tiny moons: Phobos and Deimos. But where did they come from? Although they look just like asteroids, scientists now say they formed like our own moon did, after a big object smashed into the planet and kicked up debris.