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  • Say What?

    Vocal fry

    A sizzling or rattling sound to speech. Also known as the pulse register phonation or glottal fry, vocal fry is a quality of the lowest registers of the human voice.

    The effect is produced when the vocal folds in the throat are pressed toward each other and relaxed, creating a popping, creaky sound. The noise can be a result of voice pathology, or simply an affectation. Once you learn to...

    07/03/2014 - 10:45 Psychology
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field’ is a biography of brilliance

    Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field: How Two Men Revolutionized PhysicsNancy Forbes and Basil MahonPrometheus Books, $25.95

    On April 3, 1846, Charles Wheatstone was about to present the Friday evening lecture at London’s Royal Institution. He had been invited by Michael Faraday, who had long been conducting research there on electrical and magnetic phenomena.


    06/29/2014 - 16:00 Physics
  • Science Stats

    Westerners sleep more than people from Eastern nations

    People in Western nations tend to sleep more: seven to eight hours per night on average, compared with less than seven hours in many Eastern nations. A new study suggests that differences in the timing of the natural light-dark cycle are not to blame, but rather differing schedules for work and study. People in Singapore stayed up later on work days but rose around the same time as people in...

    06/29/2014 - 10:00 Psychology
  • Reviews & Previews

    Animal sex lives exposed in 'Nature's Nether Regions'

    Nature’s Nether RegionsMenno SchilthuizenViking, $28.95

    If you want to enjoy eating lightly cooked calamari, skip down two paragraphs. And avoid page 20 of evolutionary biologist Schilthuizen’s charming and potentially mind-boggling new book on what he calls the “science of the genitals.”

    An underappreciated quirk of squid genitals, he explains, provides a bit of truth behind...

    06/28/2014 - 16:00 Evolution
  • Screentime

    To ID birds, try facial recognition

    Birding just got easier. No need to page through guidebooks looking for the mystery bird you just spotted — all you need is an iPhone and the new Birdsnap app, or a digital camera and computer. Snap a picture in the app or upload an image to the Birdsnap website, click on the bird’s eye and tail, then enter the location and date where the bird was found. Sophisticated algorithms detect parts...

    06/28/2014 - 10:00 Animals
  • Letters to the Editor


    Debates on black hole deaths

    Scientists disagree about what would happen to a hypothetical astronaut who floats past a black hole’s point of no return —whether the unlucky traveler would be flash-fried or stretched into oblivion. Andrew Grant chronicled the event horizon debate in “The mysterious boundary” (SN: 5/31/14, p. 16).

    On Facebook, we asked readers to speculate about the...

    06/27/2014 - 15:30 Astronomy, Animals, Paleontology
  • Editor's Note

    A new view of dinosaurs, a clearer view of lunar origins

    Dinosaurs have undergone any number of scientific makeovers in the last few decades. When I was young, they were depicted as lumbering, over-sized lizards, “cold-blooded” and drab. That simplistic image was eventually replaced with a more vibrant one. The velociraptor à la Jurassic Park was agile, quick, birdlike — and quite possibly festooned in feathers. Bright colors (though maybe not...

    06/27/2014 - 15:30 Evolution, Animals, Astronomy
  • Feature

    Online causes may attract more clicks than commitments

    The Save Darfur Cause on Facebook had all the makings of a slam dunk cyber success. More than a million people joined the social media site’s digital movement a few years ago to save the people of Sudan’s Darfur region from mass slaughter.    

    There was a hitch in Facebook’s humanitarian giddy-up, though: The vast majority of people who enlisted in the Save Darfur Cause recruited no one...

    06/27/2014 - 14:04 Psychology, Networks, Science & Society
  • It's Alive

    Ant lions hunt despite sealed lips

    View the video

    Ant lions are ferocious predators, but some of them don’t have a mouth.

    At least not in the usual sense. Over evolutionary time, the slit at the front of the mouth cavity has sealed shut in the armored larvae of ant lions that hunt in sand.

    Only young sand-dwelling ant lions are mouthless. As adult insects, the 2,000 or so named species in the ant lion family,...

    06/27/2014 - 10:13 Animals, Evolution
  • Science Visualized

    NASA unveils space suit fit for Mars

    See suit details

    Though its styling suggests 1980s sci-fi, NASA’s newly revealed Z-2 space suit is the astronaut apparel of the future. It is the second mock-up of a suit that NASA hopes will eventually protect explorers walking on Mars or drilling into an asteroid. “Space suit design is predicated on where you’re going and what you’re doing,” says Amy Ross, a space suit...
    06/27/2014 - 07:26 Astronomy