X-rays were the iPhone 7 of the 1890s. Months after X-rays were discovered in late 1895, German physicist Walter Koenig put the latest in tech gadgetry to the test by scanning 14 objects, including the mummified remains of an ancient Egyptian child. Koenig’s image of the child’s knees represented the first radiographic investigation of a mummy.
At the time, details on the mummy itself...
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How to Make a SpaceshipJulian GuthriePenguin Press, $28
On the 47th anniversary of Sputnik’s launch, former Navy pilot Brian Binnie flew a rocket-powered ship past the brink of outer space.
Named SpaceShipOne, the ship cruised up 112 kilometers, then plunged back to Earth, wings flared like a shuttlecock to slow its descent. SpaceShipOne’s October 4, 2004, flight, the second...
Like many abandoned mines, the Eureka uranium mine in northern Spain is a maze of long, dank tunnels. Water seeping down the walls carries dissolved substances that percolated through rocks overhead. As the water evaporates into the tunnels’ cool air, some of those dissolved ingredients combine to make new substances in solid form.
“The mine is a crystallization factory of weird minerals...
That heap of hay in a tree is not a typical animal commune. Huge group nests of sociable weaver birds across southern Africa are about as close as nature gets to building condos.
Ant nests, beaver lodges and many other marvels of animal architecture enclose shared space. But small, sparrowlike Philetairus socius push together beakful after beakful of grass to create a haystack of...
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The Wasp That Brainwashed the CaterpillarMatt SimonPenguin Books, $20
Writer Matt Simon begins his new book with a bleak outlook on life: “In the animal kingdom, life sucks and then you die.” But thanks to evolution — which Simon calls “the most majestic problem-solving force on planet Earth” — some critters have peculiar adaptations that make life suck a little less (though...