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  • Reviews & Previews

    Our Mathematical Universe

    Math is everywhere: medicine, sports, banking, gambling, National Security Agency espionage.

    And then there’s science, which has adopted math as the preferred method of description for life, nonlife and the entire physical universe. Math does a decent enough job at this to inspire wonder among physicists about why it works so well. The answer isn’t obvious, but Tegmark thinks he...

    03/19/2014 - 10:55 Numbers
  • Mystery Solved

    How string quartets stay together

    String quartet players continuously adjust the timing of their notes to stay in sync. But exactly how players do it has been unclear. New data tracking millisecond-scale corrections suggests that some ensembles are more autocratic — following one leader —while other musical groups are more democratic, making corrections equally. Researchers had two well-established quartets play Joseph Haydn’s...

    03/17/2014 - 08:00 Psychology
  • Reviews & Previews

    Do your bit for bumblebees

    Bumblebee populations are in decline, but scientists don’t have enough data on which bee species live where to target conservation efforts. People throughout North America, armed with smartphones and cameras, can now help find the bumblebees.

    The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and its partners have launched the Bumble Bee Watch website to track sightings. When you see a bee...

    03/15/2014 - 11:23 Ecology
  • Reviews & Previews

    The Monkey's Voyage

    By 26 million years ago, the ancestors of today’s New World monkeys had arrived in South America. How those primates reached the continent is something of a conundrum. The leading explanation has the animals floating across the Atlantic Ocean from Africa aboard a giant raft of vegetation.

    The scenario may sound preposterous. But de Queiroz, an evolutionary biologist, uses fossil,...

    03/14/2014 - 14:50 Evolution
  • Say What?

    Osmotroph

    View the video

    An organism that eats by osmosis, relying on nutrients diffusing into its body from a higher concentration in its environment.

    About 550 million years ago, ambitious aquatic fronds began growing taller and tapped into more nutrient-rich water than found at the seafloor surface. Researchers simulated fluid flow over early multicellular osmo-trophs, which may be early...

    03/13/2014 - 10:29 Microbes, Plants