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  • How Bizarre

    Soft robots go swimming

    View the video

    A new robotic fish can wiggle and writhe like the real thing. With a squishy silicone body and a bellyful of electronics, the little swimmer flips and turns nearly as fast as living fish do. To make the robot so nimble, MIT engineers sandwiched a firm plastic sheet between hollow channels embedded in each side of the tail. Spurts of gas inflate the channels on one side,...

    04/08/2014 - 15:03 Technology, Animals
  • It's Alive

    See-through shrimp flex invisible muscle

    Much of the body of a Pederson’s transparent shrimp looks like watery nothing, but it’s a superhero sort of nothing. The shrimp is transparent enough to read through, but it’s not some frail, filmy thing. It’s packed with invisible muscle.

    Searching for Ancylomenes pedersoni shrimp has a touch of the summer-camp prank about it, being a hunt for something that’s mostly invisible. On a...

    04/08/2014 - 11:02 Animals
  • Reviews & Previews

    Surgery museum holds wonders for the brave

    You would expect a place called the International Museum of Surgical Science to display a lot of sharp-edged instruments — and does it ever. From ancient blades used to cut holes in a patient’s skull (a still-mysterious procedure called trepanation) to the modern devices used to remove blockages from blood vessels, this Chicago museum provides a fascinating historical tour of surgical...

    04/07/2014 - 08:30 Biomedicine, Science & Society
  • Millions of working mamas

    Millions of mamas — and even grandmamas — go to work every day in the United States. One-third to one-half of the working women are mothers and grandmothers. About nine million mothers with children under 18 years of age this year will work…. About six times as many mothers will work this year as worked two decades ago. Almost five million more mothers will work in 1964 than worked in 1950, if...

    04/05/2014 - 09:00 Science & Society
  • Letters to the Editor

    Feedback

    Ancient genes persist

    Stone Age interbreeding with Neandertals appears to have left its mark in humans’ genes. In “Neandertal hot spots highlighted in modern humans’ DNA” (SN: 3/8/14, p. 12), Bruce Bower reported that variants in genes relating to skin and hair traits, as well as some autoimmune disorders, come courtesy of these ancient hominids.

    “I found your article fascinating,...

    04/04/2014 - 15:30 Genetics, Microbes, Physics
  • Editor's Note

    Science can save lives, but only if society lets it

    Society faces lots of problems that science can’t yet fix, from the troubling rise in asthma to the lack of a cheap energy source that doesn’t harm the environment. But there are also plenty of cases in which scientists know enough to avert tragedy. Whether society acts on that knowledge is a separate issue.

    The resurgence of whooping cough offers one example. A new type of pertussis...

    04/04/2014 - 15:00 Earth, Health
  • Feature

    Whooping cough bounces back

    Whooping cough has turned up in North America after decades of near absence, and we have only ourselves to blame.

    In the last several years, the highly contagious microbe that causes whooping cough has spawned a string of outbreaks, adeptly piercing the shield of vaccination that once afforded solid protection against it. The last time whooping cough was this pervasive in the United...

    04/04/2014 - 14:00 Health
  • Feature

    Buying time when quakes hit

    At 2:46 p.m. on March 11, 2011, an earthquake-detection station on Japan’s northeast coast began rocking back and forth, rattled by a powerful seismic wave racing from deep offshore. Just 5.4 seconds later, the Japan Meteorological Agency issued a notice that a magnitude 4.3 quake had begun.

    As the seconds ticked by, however, and more stations picked up the rippling wave, the tremor...

    04/04/2014 - 12:00 Earth
  • Science Visualized

    Seismic signals chronicle deadly landslide

    At 10:37 a.m. local time on March 22, as much as 5 million cubic meters of sediment slid down a hillside outside Oso, Wash., killing dozens and damming a stretch of the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River. The debris scraping and bouncing downhill generated seismic waves like those unleashed during an earthquake.

    The pattern of these ground vibrations, recorded at regional seismic...

    04/04/2014 - 08:30 Earth
  • Reviews & Previews

    The Thing With Feathers

    Bird nerds get an unfair rap as socially awkward. But in his second book, the affable author, Noah Strycker, all but lassos readers with his binocular strap to bring people nose to beak with the plumed creatures he knows so well.

    An ornithologist and editor at Birding magazine, Strycker has a knack for describing random avian encounters: “The first time I walked through the Adélie...

    04/03/2014 - 16:43 Animals