SN Prime | March 4, 2013 | Vol. 3, No. 9
Chicken Little is right. The sky is falling.
The million-plus people living in Chelyabinsk, Russia, got that message on February 15, when a space rock some 17 meters across detonated over their homes. People rushed to the windows in wonderment as a blaze of light arced through the sky; seconds later many of them got a face full of glass shards. It was the most damaging cosmic collision since 1908, when an even bigger asteroid chunk blew up over Siberia. (In an era before YouTube and dashboard cameras, it was weeks before tales trickled out of reindeer...
It has taken longer than previously credited for the kind of people now on earth to rise to become what we know as modern man. Evidence now is that man and his cultures extend beyond two million years into the past. Radioactive dating has given new time determinations for human ancestors and evolution in the dim anthropological past. The latest “clock” or dating method measures the amount of the chemical element argon in rocks to determine their age…. The date of the earliest skeletal remains, generally conceded “human,” those of Zinjanthropus discovered in Olduvai Gorge, Tanganyika,... (p. 4)
A biopsychologist examines how the brain shapes behavior by learning from the consequences of actions.
Prometheus, 2012, 383 p., $21 (p. 30)
Learn how humans have managed water throughout history and how shortages have driven conflict and social change.
Harvard Univ., 2012, 347 p., $25.95 (p. 30)
This abridged version of the human search for knowledge covers major discoveries in medicine, astronomy and other fields.
Yale Univ., 2012, 263 p., $25 (p. 30)
The head of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office describes the planet’s risk of being smacked by a comet or asteroid and what can be done to prevent such a fate.
Princeton Univ., 2012, 172 p., $24.95 (p. 30)
Review key inventions of the 19th and 20th centuries, from bicycles to the Underwood typewriter.
Firefly, 2012, 224 p., $29.95 (p. 30)
Scrutinizing baseball’s streaks
My family owned the Oakland A’s, formerly the Kansas City Athletics, from 1960 to 1980. During this period, our team won three consecutive World Series (1972 – 74) and five consecutive division titles (1971 – 75). I personally witnessed that one player would be on a streak and his attitude appeared to raise his teammates’ spirits “Hitting streaks may be contagious,” (SN: 1/26/13, p. 13). I also saw the opposite: If a player was having a bad day, this also seemed to be contagious.
Nancy H. Finley, Dublin, Calif.
On the other hand, you... (p. 31)
Learn about the 1989 “discovery” of cold fusion, later disproved, at a screening of the documentary film The Believers at Fermilab, near Chicago. A discussion with physicists and the directors follows. See bit.ly/SFbelievers
March 16 – 23
Try science activities, help clean up the coast and get teaching ideas at the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering. See bit.ly/SFfestSD (p. 4)
Read Rachel Ehrenberg’s column “In Hollywood, buzz beats star power when it comes to predicting box office take.”
MIND & BRAIN
See a video showing a test of a baby’s motor control (right) in “Newborn babies walk the walk.”
See video of the meteor that struck Russia on February 15 in “Meteor explodes over Russia.”
EARTH IN ACTION
Alexandra Witze examines the perils of giving science-based advice in “Italian earthquake verdict exposes rifts between science and society.” (p. 4)