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  • Reviews & Previews

    War's ecological effects laid bare in 'A Window on Eternity'

    Starting in the late 1970s, Mozambique spent more than a decade embroiled in a brutal civil war that left millions dead or displaced. The effects of the human conflict echoed through the natural world. Soldiers encamped in Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park, an area rich in flora and fauna, hunted elephants, zebras, Cape buffalo and other animals for food. Populations of the big mammals...

    04/20/2014 - 12:00 Ecology
  • Science Visualized

    Distant swirling galaxy dwarfed by violent star killer

    Sixty million light-years from Earth in the Fornax constellation, two neighboring galaxies have very different histories. The smaller galaxy, NGC 1317 (right), is an unremarkable spiral, not much different from the Milky Way. Its neighbor galaxy NGC 1316 has a more sordid past: It’s a cannibal.

    In this mosaic of images from the 2.2-meter telescope at La Silla Observatory in Chile, dark...

    04/20/2014 - 09:00 Astronomy
  • Letters to the Editor

    Feedback

    Options for treating addiction

    Addiction is often seen as a chronic disease, but some long-term studies suggest it can be viewed as a temporary coping problem instead. Bruce Bower presented this alternative view in “The addiction paradox” (SN: 3/22/14, p. 16).

    “A nice job by Bruce Bower, as usual. I don’t think it helps when researchers dichotomize conditions as behavioral or biological...

    04/19/2014 - 14:00 Climate, Health, Animals
  • Reviews & Previews

    'You Are Here' maps course for directionally challenged

    These days, it can be almost impossible to get lost. The creation of affordable smartphones has put personal homing beacons into over a billion pockets and pocketbooks, enabling even the most directionally challenged to locate the nearest Starbucks or find their way around a traffic accident. Yet the technology that enables easy navigation was centuries — even millennia — in the making. Boston...

    04/19/2014 - 09:00 Technology
  • Animated movies made by computer

    A 17-minute animated movie has been produced, using a cathode ray tube and a movie camera, both controlled automatically by an electronic computer…. The film took two months of research and programming, four hours of computer time, and 2,000 hours of film processing, [at] a cost of about $600 per minute…. The picture is formed on a grid … 184 spots long by 252 spots high. Each spot can be any...

    04/18/2014 - 15:30 Technology
  • Editor's Note

    New tools reveal new truths about fungi, flies, antibiotics

    In the newsroom, any story about a new scientific method faces an uphill battle. Editors are likely to reject such a story; writers themselves often downplay these stories because they’ve learned that the answer is usually “no.” To those of us who follow science, how scientists do what they do becomes important, and thus worth writing about, only once a new method reveals a novel truth about...

    04/18/2014 - 15:30 Genetics
  • Feature

    Unsolved drugs

    Penicillin attacks with a calculated strike, splitting open cell walls. Kanamycin sends a bacterium’s protein assembly line into mayhem. Ciprofloxacin dices a microbe’s DNA into a genetic hash. Like trained snipers, each of these common antibiotics seems to dispatch bacteria with a simple tactic: Target a high-profile molecule crucial to survival and, with a single, clean shot, defeat the...

    04/18/2014 - 15:00 Biomedicine, Health
  • Feature

    The name of the fungus

    To a visitor walking down, down, down the white cinder block stairwell and through metal doors into the basement, Building 010A takes on the hushed, mile-long-beige-corridor feel of some secret government installation in a blockbuster movie.

    It’s not open to sightseers, but it’s far from secret. No jut-jawed military escort leads the way; biologist Shannon Dominick wears a striped...

    04/18/2014 - 13:55 Fungi
  • Reviews & Previews

    To do: Exhibits to explore this May in D.C. and New York

    The Future Is Here Festival

    May 16–18

    Cosmologist Brian Greene and actor Patrick Stewart are among the headliners at this event, themed “science meets science fiction.”

    Ronald Reagan Building, Washington, D.C.

    World Science Festival

    May 28–June 1

    This celebration of science will feature 50 events, including talks, performances and live demonstrations.

    ...

    04/17/2014 - 18:23 Technology, Science & Society, Animals
  • The –est

    Laser kicks molecules into fastest ever spin

    The powerful kick of a laser has spun molecules faster than they’ve ever been spun before: 10 trillion rotations per second, or 600 trillion RPM. A car with tires turning at that spin rate would travel the distance to the nearest star in half an hour. “There’s definitely nothing macroscopic that can spin that fast,” says Valery Milner, a molecular physicist at the University of British...

    04/17/2014 - 09:48 Physics