Top stories: Men’s versus women’s brains, aging pets, and is the universe a hologram?
(Left to right) From Dog Years, Faithful Friends, Then & Now by Amanda Jones, Published by Chronicle; Highwaystarz/iStockphoto; Reider Hahn/Fermilab

Top stories: Men’s versus women’s brains, aging pets, and is the universe a hologram?

The brains of men and women aren’t really that different, study finds

Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. This saying may not hold true, thanks to a new study that finds human brains do not fit neatly into “male” and “female” categories. After analyzing tissue and nerve fiber matter in magnetic resonance imaging brain images of 1400 individuals, results reveal that although our brains seem to share a patchwork of forms, with some being more common in one gender over the other, the majority of the brains were a mosaic of male and female structures.

Anti-Alzheimer’s gene may have led to the rise of grandparents

Evolutionarily speaking, we are born to make babies. Our bodies—and brains—don’t fall apart until we come to the end of our child-bearing years. So why are grandmothers, who don’t reproduce and who contribute little to food production, still around and still mentally sound??Researchers stumbled across a new finding that reveals one of two forms of the gene CD33—the protective allele—evolved when humans first separated from our primate ancestors, enabling us to stay mentally sound as we age in order to help raise the next generation. Researchers say this protective allele is a major evolutionary factor in natural selection against Alzheimer’s. ??

Got just a single observation? New journal will publish it

Matters, a new open-access online journal launched last month, aims to boost integrity and speed the communication of science by allowing researchers to publish discrete, and even single observations rather than the complete story, which is often required of today’s scholarly research publications. This new journal opens the ongoing debate over incentive systems in science and the pressures researchers face to publish in prestigious journals. Although the journal’s goal is to make it easier to publish bits and pieces of science, critics argue that it could exacerbate another problem: enabling scientists to slice a large body of findings into many manuscripts, in order to boost authorship. ??

Controversial experiment sees no evidence that the universe is a hologram

It's a classic underdog story: Working in a disused tunnel with a couple of lasers and a few mirrors, a plucky band of physicists dreamed up a way to test one of the wildest ideas in theoretical physics—a notion from the nearly inscrutable realm of "string theory" that our universe may be like an enormous hologram. After years of probing the fabric of spacetime for a signal of the "holographic principle," researchers at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, have come up empty. The results don’t surprise some scientists that argued the experiment couldn’t test the principle; however, the underdogs working on the holometer are encouraged that the technique has the potential to make further measurements.

Feature: A dog that lives 300 years? Solving the mysteries of aging in our pets

For centuries, scientists have tried to understand the human life span. What sets the limits? What can be done to slow down the clock? Now, they’re beginning to ask the same questions of our pets. A special feature in 24小时娱乐在线 this week explores the question of why we age and addresses some intriguing hypotheses that are emerging—ideas that may help explain everything from why small dogs live longer than big ones to why cats tend to outlast our canine pals. Advancing research on dogs and cats uniquely positions them to solve the riddle of how we ourselves grow old.?Perhaps our pets hold the clues to slowing down the body clock for all of us—and maybe even stopping it.

Fast-spreading virus may cause severe birth defects

An emerging virus that is causing an unprecedented epidemic in Brazil and quickly spreading through Latin America may be responsible for a spike in severe birth defects. The Zika virus, a little-known pathogen that until 2007 hadn't been seen outside of Africa and Asia,?spread earlier this year to South America?and has infected more than 84,000 people in Brazil. The virus may be responsible for a dramatic increase in cases of microcephaly, a severe birth defect in which the brain fails to develop properly and the head is much smaller than normal.

Vote for your scientific breakthrough of the year winner!

‘Tis the season! It’s also that time of year to ponder the scientific breakthrough of the year. Here at?24小时娱乐在线, in keeping with tradition, our news writers and editors are getting ready to unveil the 20th Breakthrough of the Year: their choice of the most momentous scientific discovery, development, or trend of 2015, to be announced with the last issue of the year online on 17 December. But there’s no need to wait—you can get in on the action by voting on the winner from our top 10 finalists in our People’s Choice Breakthrough of the Year! Watch for our final issue of the year to see the winner(s)!