Reviews & Previews
Incredible things happen routinely. People win the lottery — twice. Golfers hit holes-in-one several days in a row. Basketball players appear to get a “hot hand” (SN: 2/12/11, p. 26; SN Online: 10/29/13).
Do these chance events validate superstition or suggest a hidden influence in our world — a higher power, perhaps? Absolutely not, argues Imperial College London statistician...
Gazing at the vast sky on a dark, clear night is humbling. But what if your eyes could see infrared light? The view might look something like NASA’s new interactive map of the galaxy. GLIMPSE360 is a night-sky atlas assembled from over 2 million images taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope.
Because interstellar clouds block visible light, the infrared maps allow you to peer through...
Sometimes called the unicorn of the sea, the male narwhal’s tusk is actually a tooth, and it grows directly through the whale’s upper lip instead of pushing the lip aside. It’s an exuberantly large version of a canine tooth that grows in a spiral; the only tooth known to do so. Otherwise narwhals are practically toothless, with only vestigial stubs that stop growing during...
Reviews & Previews
Roughly 50 kilometers east of Baton Rouge, La., lasers ricochet off mirrors that dangle at the ends of a 4-kilometer-long, L-shaped vacuum tube. A nearly identical facility sits almost 3,000 kilometers away in Washington state. The research stations — part of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO — are designed to sense gravitational waves, minuscule ripples...
Reviews & Previews
A hundred years ago, astronomers knew of just one galaxy: our own. Today they know the universe hosts billions. What’s more, the visible stuff of galaxies is dwarfed by dark matter, and each galaxy is racing away from the others due to an even more mysterious entity: dark energy. Dark Universe, developed by the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium in New York City,...
For the sake of science, Olav Oftedal has milked bats, bears and a lot of other mammals. But a naked mole-rat was something new.
“The thin, hairless skin is so translucent that you can see the milk accumulating in the mammary glands,” says Oftedal, of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Md. For once he could tell exactly which glands were full.
Letters to the Editor
Clocking the universe’s expansion05/02/2014 - 15:30 Cosmology, Health, Climate
Conflicting estimates of the Hubble constant — a measure of the speed of the universe’s expansion — have sparked debate among cosmologists. The discrepancy in data from the Planck satellite with data from other methods may be just a mistake, or it may require adjusting the cosmological model of the universe, as Tom Siegfried explained in “Cosmic question mark...
Farming didn’t originate in Europe. It was an import. But over thousands of years, it steadily took hold and transformed the landscape of the continent. Along with it came a transformation of Europe’s population.
Since the 1970s, genetics has been used to shed light on the spread of agriculture from the Middle East, as well as to look into the ancestry of modern Europeans. But only in...
Carles Lalueza-Fox nearly missed an opportunity to paint the genetic portrait of a 7,000-year-old Spaniard.
In 2006, spelunkers stumbled across the ancient remains of two men in a cave in Spain’s Cantabrian mountain range. Lalueza-Fox, an evolutionary geneticist at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, got a call inviting him to examine the skeletons’ DNA.
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On an unusually hot summer day in Wales, Sanjay Vijendran and colleagues aimed a rocket sled at an elephant-sized ice cube.
The sled rested on a raised metal track and carried what looked like a cartoon bundle of TNT to propel the contraption at the speed of sound. In front of it, a second sled held a bullet-shaped canister packed with scientific instruments.