Newly released maps reveal that U.S. air quality has markedly improved over the last decade. The evidence comes from measurements of nitrogen dioxide (NO2 ), a pollutant emitted by vehicles and coal power plants. Yet as the United States cleans up, rapidly industrializing cities in Asia, the Middle East and Africa are spewing more and more of the yellow-brown gas.
NO2 may not have the...
Overall, people in the United States cite too many responsibilities, work and money as leading causes of stress. But health concerns, one’s own or a family member’s, are also stressful. Sixty percent of people who described themselves as in “poor health condition” also reported “a great deal of stress,” according to a survey of more than 2,500 adults.
Reviews & Previews
The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark MatterKatherine FreesePrinceton Univ., $29.95
If the components of the universe were poured into a “cosmic cocktail,” scientists could easily predict how the drink would look and taste, yet they would have no idea what’s in it. Such is the state of cosmology today: While scientists can confidently explain the universe’s history and structure,...
The Science Life
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A mathematician once posed a deceptively simple question. Can a single 2-D conveyor belt be stretched around a set of wheels such that the belt is taut and touches every wheel without crossing itself?
MIT computer scientist Erik Demaine pondered the problem. For just a few wheels, the solution is easy: Arrange four into a square, wrap the belt around the outside, and...
Reviews & Previews
Some of the most potent medicine doesn’t come in a paper cup or a little pill. Instead, it pours from a cheap set of headphones. As chronicled in Alive Inside, music has the power to awaken long-dormant memories and emotions in people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other disorders.
In the documentary, filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett follows the work of social worker Dan Cohen as he...
I recently received a press release about an upcoming Science Channel special titled Man vs. the Universe. One episode will focus on the threat of asteroids impacting Earth and the various scenarios proposed to defend ourselves. The episode ends, the release says, with a segment about “the craziest NASA mission ever proposed.” The aim is to capture an asteroid in deep space with a giant bag...
Letters to the Editor
Understanding the slacktivists08/08/2014 - 15:30 Psychology, Animals
Online causes may often garner clicks but not cash because people offer nominal shows of support to impress others without making substantial contributions of time or money. Bruce Bower discussed the psychology behind this “slacktivism” in “Token gestures” (SN: 7/12/14, p. 22).
The phenomenon of actionless activism was not news to online readers, and...
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Somewhere above the clouds, way up into the deep space of the inner solar system, there’s an asteroid tumbling near Earth with NASA’s name on it.
Within the next decade or so, the space agency wants to snag the space rock and haul it to the moon. And they’ve hatched two fantastical plans to do it. One would snare an asteroid with a gigantic inflatable bag; the other...
For the first time this century, one of the world’s most famous bird specimens has come out of storage for public display.
Martha, the last known passenger pigeon, is posed on a branch amid a small collection of mementos of doom — some lovely, some poignant and some ironic — at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. September 1, 2014, marks the 100th...
Seeded Clouds 'Explode' — Cloud seeding experiments with silver iodide, resulting in “explosions” that release tremendous energies, indicate that weathermen may do more than predict weather in the future…. The explosion is first upward, then sideward. The horizontal spread is likely to prove the “most significant” for practical weather modification, two scientists reported. The...