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Zoom in on a soap bubble just before it bursts and brilliant, complex patterns emerge. Shimmery rainbows appear in thicker portions of the soap film, while clusters of dark spots appear in the thinnest regions.
The thickness of the soap film determines the color seen. Light rays that reflect off of the top and bottom of the film combine to amplify particular...
The Earth is always moving beneath our feet. What seems permanent, still and solid is in fact constantly creeping. It’s easy to forget that as we race through our busy days, measuring time with digital clocks rather than the achingly slow beat of rock.
In "Evidence falls into place for once and future supercontinents", contributing correspondent Alexandra Witze explores the long-term...
Letters to the Editor
Prehistoric tweet01/11/2017 - 12:15 Paleontology, Particle Physics, Health
Researchers uncovered the fossilized voice box, called a syrinx, of an ancient bird that lived 68 million to 66 million years ago. The bird may have sounded like a honking duck, Meghan Rosen reported in “Ancient avian voice box unearthed” (SN: 11/12/16, p. 7).
Online reader David Spector wondered if researchers could 3-D print the syrinx to replicate the ancient bird’s...
Look at any map of the Atlantic Ocean, and you might feel the urge to slide South America and Africa together. The two continents just beg to nestle next to each other, with Brazil’s bulge locking into West Africa’s dimple. That visible clue, along with several others, prompted Alfred Wegener to propose over a century ago that the continents had once been joined in a single enormous landmass....
Everybody wants more juice from their batteries. Smartphones and laptops always need recharging. Electric car drivers must carefully plan their routes to avoid being stranded far from a charging station. Anyone who struggles with a tangle of chargers every night would prefer a battery that can last for weeks or months.
For researchers who specialize in batteries, though, the drive for a...
Reviews & Previews
Time TravelJames GleickPantheon, $26.95
It’s kind of daring to write a science book about something that — you must remind your readers — doesn’t exist. That’s James Gleick’s task in Time Travel, an engaging and entertaining look at science that will always remain fiction.
It’s lucidly written, a breeze to read and erudite in assessing a vast range of literary and popular media...
Reviews & Previews
Furry LogicMatin Durrani and Liz KalaugherBloomsbury, $27
Warning: Furry Logic is not, as the title might suggest, a detailed exploration of mammals’ reasoning skills. Instead, it’s a fun, informative chronicle of how myriad animals take advantage of the laws of physics.
Science writers Matin Durrani and Liz Kalaugher cite a trove of recent (and often surprising) research findings...
Tricking some bug into drowning takes finesse, especially for a hungry meat eater with no brain, eyes or moving parts. Yet California pitcher plants are very good at it.
Growing where deposits of the mineral serpentine would kill most other plants, Darlingtonia californica survives in low-nutrient soil by being “very meat dependent,” says David Armitage of the University of Notre Dame in...
Tenth moon of Saturn
The first natural satellite in the solar system to be discovered since artificial satellites were launched has been found circling Saturn. Dr. Audouin Dollfus of the Observatory of Physical Astronomy at Meudon, France, spotted Saturn’s tenth satellite on three photographs taken in mid-December when the planet’s rings were seen edge-on from earth. — Science News,...
What Were They Thinking?
New research is stirring the pot about an ancient Egyptian burial practice.
Many ancient peoples, including Egyptians, buried some of their dead in ceramic pots or urns. Researchers have long thought these pot burials, which often recycled containers used for domestic purposes, were a common, make-do burial for poor children.
But at least in ancient Egypt, the practice was not...