What's Left to Name
January 2, 1999 | Volume 155 | Number 1
Cover: The flower now called Yermo is so distinctive that taxonomists gave it its own genus. Yet it was not known to science until 1991, after a botanist noticed it while riding his dirt bike along a proposed pipeline route in Wyoming. Some taxonomists worry that little effort is going into identifying the still unknown plants in the United States and Canada. (Photo: Charmaine Delmatier)
News of the Week:
Year-2000 Chip Danger Looms Large
Water comes clean with new purity test
With less than a year left to avert failures, computer experts and engineers are finding that year-2000 computer chip and software problems may be much more severe than anticipated.
A sensitive, antibody-based technique rapidly assesses bacterial contamination in ultrapure water used by drug and computer-chip manufacturers.
Good and bad news for migrating monarchs
Chemical tags in monarch wings are giving scientists a way to trace butterflies from their wintering sites in Mexico back to their birthplaces across eastern North America.
Math discoveries catch kids unawares
Unconscious problem-solving insights among grade-schoolers often set the stage for later academic advances.
Earth's temperature shot skyward in 1998
Global temperatures in 1998 were the highest in 140 years of meteorological record-keeping.
Sand piles harden as water makes links
Inside a pile of wet sand, water molecules may slowly build bridges that cause grains to stick more tightly together with time.
Plans change for NEAR visit to an asteroid
Entering orbit later this month about from 1,000 kilometers from the asteroid 433 Eros and eventually coming to within a few kilometers of its surface, the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous spacecraft will determine the composition, shape, and density of Eros to an unprecedented accuracy.
Douching associated with pregnancy risk
Women who douche frequently and then become pregnant appear more likely to have a lowbirth-weight baby than women who don't douche.
Nicotine addiction curbed by new drug
An anti-epilepsy drug called gamma vinyl-GABA blocks the craving for nicotine in rats addicted to nicotine.
Drug dulls shingles, diabetes pain
Gabapentina drug used to control convulsions in epilepsyreduces nerve pain associated with diabetes and shingles.
A new twist on mirror-image molecules
Researchers developed a method for calculating how much individual atoms and their electrons contribute to the optical properties of certain molecules.
Metal grains dye fabrics in muted hues
Bonding tiny particles of gold and other metals to cloth fibers tints fabrics with a range of colors.
Thin probe measures pH of heart
Threaded through a vein to the heart, a small, newly developed pH sensor continuously measures the acidity or alkalinity of heart tissues and blood.
Sitting right on top of an eruption
Instruments stationed along the Pacific seafloor captured the first close-up observations of a subsea eruption.
Life gets extreme in seafloor chimneys
Volcanic chimneys pulled up from the seafloor harbor some of the hardiest microbes known.
Green tea belittles cancer
A constituent of green tea seems to thwart a cancer by halting the enlargement of its cells.
Soy compounds help preserve bone
Soy proteins may help prevent the bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis and fractures in the elderly.
Unknown Plants under Our Noses
How much backyard botany remains to be discovered?
Even though the United States and Canada have been scoured by plant hunters, some taxonomists estimate that hundreds of novelties still await discovery.
Agents of Cooperation
Orchestrating the actions of mobile snippets of smart software
Researchers are exploring how to enhance the usefulness of computer programs called intelligent agents by making them autonomous, mobile, and capable of learning.
Letters: A Selection from Letters to the Editor
Fossil Art Contest: Name Nature's Masterpieces