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  • Reviews & Previews

    My Brief History

    If all physicists could explain their work as well as Stephen Hawking explained black holes in his 1988 best seller A Brief History of Time, science writers would have to find other work. The British theorist’s new book proves that he is nearly as adept at writing about himself.

    Still going strong at age 71 despite amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Hawking can write only three words a...

    10/25/2013 - 14:00 Cosmology
  • Reviews & Previews

    Humans’ living creations put on display

    Some might say Freckles the goat was a freak. Others would say she was a modern wonder. She was genetically engineered by a Canadian company to produce milk that could be spun into spider silk. The superstrong fibers were intended for high-tech uses like bulletproof vests or artificial tendons, but in 2009 the company went bankrupt. A taxidermied Freckles now greets visitors to a tiny...

    10/23/2013 - 09:00 Science & Society, Animals
  • Reviews & Previews

    Our Final Invention

    Computers already make all sorts of decisions for you. With little or no human guidance, they deduce what books you would like to buy, trade your stocks and distribute electrical power. They do all this quickly and efficiently using a simple form of artificial intelligence. Now, imagine if computers controlled even more aspects of life and could truly think for themselves.

    ...

    10/22/2013 - 16:00 Human Evolution, Technology
  • The –est

    Oldest pitch-drop experiment

    Grass grows quicker. Paint dries faster. Yet there’s something irresistible about watching the glacial flow of pitch.

    And now a long-forgotten experiment with pitch has come to light, probably the oldest known of its kind. In a small display case at Aberystwyth University in Wales sits a glass funnel filled with a heap of ultra-viscous pitch, dated April 23, 1914. That’s 13 years older...

    10/22/2013 - 08:00 Physics
  • It's Alive

    The colorful lives of squid

    Your calamari, it turns out, may have come from a temporary transvestite with rainbows in its armpits.

    Well, not armpits, but spots just below where the fins flare out. “Finpits,” cell biologist Daniel DeMartini nicknamed them. He and his colleagues have documented unusual color-change displays in female California market squid, popular in restaurants.

    Squids, octopuses and...

    10/21/2013 - 09:15 Animals