Koko the Gorilla, Who Used Sign Language and Befriended Mr. Rogers, Dies at 46

Koko, the gorilla whose apparent aptitude for sign language endeared her to fans around the world, died in her sleep on Tuesday morning, according to the Gorilla Foundation, which oversaw her care. She was 46. Koko became an instant celebrity in her youth thanks to an early facility with American Sign Language. That fame was bolstered over the years as Koko, a western lowland gorilla, charmed entertainers like Fred Rogers and Robin Williams as well as their audiences. “Koko touched the lives of millions as an ambassador for all gorillas…

The Natural Gas Industry Has a Leak Problem

Environmental groups have argued that voluntary measures are not always sufficient, and they have urged federal regulators to step in and mandate more sweeping reductions. Former President Barack Obama proposed regulations to limit leaks, but over the past year, the Trump administration has moved to rescind most Obama-era methane policies. Some of these rollbacks are now tied up in court. The new study is the culmination of five years of research to determine the extent of methane leakage and its effect on climate. Led by the Environmental Defense Fund, the…

A Common Virus May Play Role in Alzheimer’s Disease, Study Finds

The virus theory is far from being accepted by most Alzheimer’s experts. Some raise the chicken-or-egg question: Could viruses found in greater amounts in Alzheimer’s brains be consequences of the disease or even, as Dr. Lennart Mucke, director of the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease in San Francisco said, “innocent bystanders”? Dr. Mucke called the new study “impressive and very well designed.” But, he noted, “there have been many speculations and even outright claims that infections contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.” “None of them has held up after…

Magnetic Sense Helps Billions of Moths on an Australian Migration

Researchers say this is the first reliable evidence that insects can use Earth’s magnetic field for navigation. Bogong moths in a cave in the Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales, Australia.CreditEric Warrant Every spring in Australia, billions of bogong moths migrate from the arid plains of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria to the meadows of the Australian Alps to escape the impending heat. There, they congregate in caves like living shingles, and go dormant over the summer. Autumn arrives, and they return to their birthplaces to mate, lay…

Newly Discovered ‘Limb Pit’ Reveals Civil War Surgeons’ Bitter Choices

WASHINGTON — Side by side, in a shallow pit, two soldiers were hastily buried — and along with them, not flowers or mementos, but 11 arms and legs. The limbs belonged to the fallen soldiers’ comrades, according to archaeologists, and were likely gathered from the amputation tables of deluged Union Army surgeons on a Civil War battlefield and buried there. The remains, discovered in 2014 and excavated in 2015 from Virginia’s Manassas National Battlefield Park, mark the first-ever discovery of an intact surgeon’s “limb pit,” the National Park Service announced…

New Group, With Conservative Credentials, Plans Push for a Carbon Tax

Proponents of a market-oriented plan to fight climate change by taxing greenhouse gas emissions and giving the revenue to American taxpayers are starting a campaign to run advertisements as early as this fall and introduce legislation in Congress as early as next year. The plan’s supporters have formed a group called Americans for Carbon Dividends that will lobby for the proposal. The group plans its first event on Wednesday and includes a number of well-known members, including Trent Lott, the former Senate Republican leader from Mississippi, and Janet L. Yellen,…

A Troubling Prognosis for Migrant Children in Detention: ‘The Earlier They’re Out, the Better’

Kalina Brabeck, a psychologist at Rhode Island College who works with immigrant children who lose their parents to deportation or for other reasons, said that the experience of loss often leads to a form of post-traumatic stress — the paralyzing vigilance, avoidance and emotional gusts first identified in war veterans. Most of the children held on the border will have accumulated traumas, Dr. Brabeck said. Even before their parents were detained, many already had run the gauntlet of immigration itself, fleeing with little resources from often violent communities. One goal…

Sea Stars Started Dissolving. What Helped Some of Them Survive?

Researchers say they’ve detected genetic differences that might help explain why some of these creatures on California’s coast survived a deadly plague. ImageThe disease that decimated ocher sea stars in Northern California seems to have altered their gene pool.CreditLauren Schiebelhut In the summer of 2013, the ocher sea stars of the California coast fell victim to a deadly plague. First they developed ominous white patches. Then, in a touch straight from a horror movie, their rotting arms began to detach from their bodies and crawl away. They didn’t make it…

Was Autism a Nazi Invention?

Sheffer’s account of the “program of systematic child killing” that grew out of this mind-set is chilling. Starting in the summer of 1939, a Nazi decree mandated that all physicians, nurses, and midwives report any child under 3 with mental or physical disabilities. Sheffer goes on to explain: “The children would enter one of the Reich’s 37 ‘special children’s wards’ for observation and, regularly, medical murder.” Her descriptions of children’s pleading letters home or parents’ confusion as to their children’s sudden deaths are devastating in their routine matter-of-factness. Sheffer’s pivot…