If you find yourself in the reality show doldrums, pining
for the rivalries of Top Chef or American Idol … perk up. The biggest reality show in Science Town kicks off October 4. That’s right: it’s Nobel prize season.
Unfortunately, the decision making has gone on behind the scenes; there will be no calling in or texting to vote for your laureate of
choice. Nor will you see footage of a winner answering an early morning phone call (or conversely a loser hurling a cell phone across a room). But you can comment on the winners on our website — Science News will be covering the science...
Found in: Science & Society
Delve deep into the far right of the periodic table with a chemist who appreciates noble gases’ many uses.
Oxford Univ. Press, 2010, 264 p., $24.95. (p. 30)
Eighty-eight tales tell of science and superstition in the ancient world (including Alexander the Great’s mellification, or embalming in honey).
Walker, 2010, 308 p., $17. (p. 30)
A survey of science and engineering breakthroughs that may lead to technological leaps.
OxfordUniv. Press, 2010, 295 p., $29.95. (p. 30)
Arachnid evolution is woven into this history of one of the strongest natural materials.
Yale Univ. Press, 2010, 229 p., $30. (p. 30)
Tour Earth’s hottest, coldest, stormiest and stinkiest neighbors, plus the solar system’s weirdest phenomena.
Harvard Univ. Press, 2010, 290 p., $27.95. (p. 30)
If aliens ever land on Earth, Kean writes, one of the few things humans could present that might actually be understood by the visitors is the periodic table of the elements. That observation is typical of this quirky, thoughtful and thorough book.
Remembered by many as a daunting chart looming over a teacher’s shoulder and typically “less than frickin’ helpful” on exams, the periodic table is actually a map, writes Kean, a science journalist. It is a map on which geography is destiny, a map of rivalries and antagonisms, a map that — accompanied by a guide like Kean — can tak... (p. 30)
The 2000 U.S. presidential election should have been decided by a coin flip.
Or so argues Seife, a mathematician-turned-journalist who tackles some of society’s biggest math problems in his new book. The race between George W. Bush and Al Gore was, mathematically speaking, too close to call. So, Seife suggests, instead of counting chads, the contested state of Florida should have relied on an age-old procedure for breaking a tie: drawing lots.
Seife is somewhat obsessed with the flaws in the country’s electoral system, but he makes an eloquent case that all citizens should be so co... (p. 30)
In the article “Birth of the beat” (SN: 8/14/10, p. 18), Sandra Trehub says that music’s evolutionary origins remain unknown. Evolution is the sum of many acts of natural selection, so the question is, what survival advantage did music provide? The mother teaching her infant musical skills wouldn’t be so prevalent if survival of musical genes wasn’t an advantage.
This was an excellent set of articles. Please keep up the good work, as you have over the 40 years that I’ve been reading Science News.
Bill Hawkins, Bloomington, Minn.
“Birth of... (p. 31)
DO SEA SERPENTS EXIST? — The flurry of interest in sea monsters gained new impetus in September 1959, when Dr. Anton Brunn of Denmark described captured larval eels six feet long.… [T]he unusually large size of the larvae suggested that the parents must be of huge size. The adult eels, perhaps 30 to 50 feet in length, hooping their way across the ocean waves, might account for some of the sea serpent legends. “I know that some of the stories told about sea monsters and sea serpents sound weird,” Dr. [Robert] Menzies said. “But it would be even more ridiculous to pooh-pooh them... (p. 4)