The best-selling author tells a quirky tale of John Atanasoff, an Iowa physics professor who in the 1930s pursued the dream of faster calculations.
Doubleday, 2010, 256 p., $25.95. (p. 30)
From hand-drawn sketches to high-tech views of single neurons, a neuroscientist unpacks the visual history of brain imaging.
Abrams, 2010, 239 p., $35. (p. 30)
Underground particle hunts
The dark matter experiments described in “Mining for missing matter” (SN: 8/28/10, p. 22) sound almost identical to those looking for neutrinos. Both are placed deep underground to help screen out background radiation, especially neutrons. How do particle hunters differentiate between neutrino hits and those by the putative dark matter particles? Also, the article makes it sound like investigators think there is only one type of [exotic] dark matter particle. Why is that when there is an entire zoo of normal matter particles and forces?
James Smit... (p. 31)
“BUMPERS” FOR SPACE SHIPS — Sound-proofed “meteor bumpers” for space ships are needed to provide important psychological and physical protection for astronauts traveling through fast moving concentrations of space dust as they leave the earth, Dr. Fred L. Whipple, director, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and a professor of astronomy at Harvard University, reported. The sound of the tiny “cosmic puff balls” as they hit the space vehicles may give the occupying astronaut “the sense of being under military siege,” he warned scientists attending the symposium.… The conc... (p. 4)
Tweens can explore science and magic at the Moore Public Library in Tacoma, Wash. http://www.tacomapubliclibrary.org
The Orlando Science Center in Florida hosts a “Neanderthal Ball.” Cocktail dress with caveman couture. http://www.osc.org
Entry deadline for teen whiz kid competition, the 2010 Intel Science Talent Search. http://www.societyforscience.org/sts (p. 4)
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Reports on the science of sleep. | Go
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Download | SubscribeDespite its utter mundanity, sleep resists simple scientific explanation. It appears to recuperate the body and refresh the mind, but exactly how isn’t at all clear. The brain appears to be as active in some of the throes of somnolence as it is in sustaining wakefulness.
By inquiring into all that happens in the brain and body during sleep, researchers aim to paint a more complete picture of why pe... (p. 16)
The forecast for Earth is in, and it’s not good. So writes Cullen, a climatologist formerly of the Weather Channel, in her new book subtitled Heat Waves, Extreme Storms, and Other Scenes from a Climate-Changed Planet. If trends continue, she says, by the middle of this century — a mere 40 years from now — no place on Earth will experience the same weather that it does today.
In the first part of this provocative book, Cullen recounts the near century-long history of weather prediction and how that science serves as the foundation for modern climate projections. Climate simulations, ... (p. 30)
Music on the mind
Common experience confirms that music serves language (“A mind for music,” SN: 8/14/10, p. 17). A person unfamiliar with, say, the musical South Pacific has only to listen to its songs a few times to sing the lyrics from memory. Another who tries to memorize the lyrics by just hearing them recited a few times will not succeed nearly as well. Now, why?
H. Charles Romesburg, Logan, Utah
Thanks for the special issue on music. Does music soothe the savage breast? I can’t say, but I’m pretty sure it has played a large role in keeping me (a lifelong musici... (p. 30)
WORLD TV VIA SATELLITES SET AT $170,000,000 — Fifty improved courier-type communications satellites would provide world-wide telephone and television facilities for a mere $170,000,000: $100,000,000 for the satellites and $70,000,000 for the ground stations. These are the figures the American Telephone and Telegraph Company estimated for the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C. Without the luxury of television facilities, the telephone system alone would cost only $115,000,000. AT&T also estimated the cost of an economy system to link America, Europe and Hawaii with 3... (p. 4)
October 28 – 30
National Science Teachers Association holds its Kansas City area conference on science education. Go to www.nsta.org/conferences/2010kan
Slated launch date for shuttle Discovery’s final spaceflight. See www.nasa.gov/missions
Nomination deadline for the 15th Annual Carnegie Science Awards. Go to www.carnegiesciencecenter.org (p. 4)