Reviews & Previews
The 20th century will go down in history — it pretty much already has — as the century of the physicist. Physicists’ revolutionizing of the scientific world view with relativity and quantum mechanics might have been enough to warrant that conclusion. Future historians may emphasize even more, though, the role of physicists in war and government. Two such physicists, one born at the century’s...
There are few simple answers in science. Even seemingly straightforward questions, when probed by people in search of proof, lead to more questions. Those questions lead to nuances, layers of complexity and, more often than we might expect, conclusions that contradict initial intuition.02/22/2017 - 12:47 Science & Society
In the 1990s, researchers asking “How do we fight oxygen-hungry cancer cells?” offered an obvious...
Letters to the Editor
Saved by the Bell02/22/2017 - 12:43 Quantum Physics, Earth, Technology
Physicists used light from stars to perform a cosmic Bell test, which verified that quantum particles were indeed “spooky,” Emily Conover reported in “Quantum effect passes space test” (SN: 1/21/17, p. 12).
Reader George Mitchell took issue with Conover’s description of entangled photons before they are measured as having multiple polarizations at once. “We don’t...
Like many living things, a cancer cell cannot survive without oxygen. When young and tiny, a malignancy nestles inside a bed of blood vessels that keep it fed. As the mass grows, however, its demand for oxygen outpaces supply. Pockets within the tumor become deprived and send emergency signals for new vessel growth, a process called angiogenesis. In the 1990s, a popular cancer-...
Platinum, one of the rarest and most expensive metals on Earth, may soon find itself out of a job. Known for its allure in engagement rings, platinum is also treasured for its ability to jump-start chemical reactions. It’s an excellent catalyst, able to turn standoffish molecules into fast friends. But Earth’s supply of the metal is limited, so scientists are trying to coax materials that aren...
A big coconut crab snaps its outsized left claw as hard as a lion can bite, new measurements suggest. So what does a land crab the size of a small house cat do with all that pinch power?
For starters, it protests having its claw-force measured, says Shin-ichiro Oka of the Okinawa Churashima Foundation in Motobu, Japan. “The coconut crab is very shy,” he says. It doesn’t attack people...
Computers that hear
Computer engineers have dreamed of a machine that would translate speech into something that a vacuum tube or transistor could understand. Now at last, some promising hardware is being developed.... It is still a long way from the kind of science fiction computer that can understand sentences or long speeches. — Science News, March 4, 1967Update
A tsunami’s immense wall of water may not be stoppable. But there may be a way to take the ferocious force of nature down a few notches, using a pair of counterwaves.
If released at the right moment, a type of sound wave known as an acoustic-gravity wave could subdue a tsunami, applied mathematician Usama Kadri of Cardiff University in Wales reports January 23 in Heliyon. These acoustic-...
News in Brief
WASHINGTON — Diagnosing Ebola earlier is becoming almost as easy as taking a home pregnancy test.
Scientists are developing antibodies for a test that can sniff out the deadly virus more quickly and efficiently than current tests, researchers reported February 6 at the American Society for Microbiology Biothreats meeting.
Detecting Ebola’s genetic material in patients’ blood...
WASHINGTON — It has been used by an assassin wielding a poisoned umbrella and sent in a suspicious letter to a president.
Ricin, the potent toxin and bioterrorism agent, has no antidote and can cause death within days. But a cocktail of antibodies could one day offer victims at least a slim window for treatment.
A new study presented February 7 at the American Society for...