Reviews & Previews
InferiorAngela SainiBeacon Press, $25.95
Early in Inferior, science writer Angela Saini recalls a man cornering her after a signing for her book Geek Nation, on science in India. “Where are all the women scientists?” he asked, then answered his own question. “Women just aren’t as good at science as men are. They’ve been shown to be less intelligent.”
Saini fought back with a...
Cube-shaped ice is rare, at least at the microscopic level of the ice crystal. Now researchers have coaxed typically hexagonal 3-D ice crystals to form the most cubic ice ever created in the lab.
Cubed ice crystals — which may exist naturally in cold, high-altitude clouds — could help improve scientists’ understanding of clouds and how they interact with Earth’s atmosphere and sunlight,...
For over 13 years, the Cassini spacecraft has orbited Saturn, beaming back dazzling images from the ringed planet and its diverse moons. On September 15, the mission will go out in style by dive-bombing the planet. In “Death Dive to Saturn,” the TV series NOVA looks back at Cassini’s successes and takes us behind the scenes for the spacecraft’s final months.
Featuring interviews with...
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Scientists have created the largest map of dark matter yet, part of a slew of new measurements that help pin down the universe’s dark contents. Covering about a thirtieth of the sky, the map (above) charts the density of both normal matter — the stuff that’s visible — and dark matter, an unidentified but far more abundant substance that pervades the cosmos.
Reviews & Previews
Darwin’s Backyard James T. CostaW.W. Norton & Co., $27.95
The story of how Charles Darwin’s trip around the world on the HMS Beagle inspired his ideas about evolution is well-known. Less familiar, however, may be the decades of detailed research that he conducted after that 1830s voyage. As biologist James Costa chronicles in Darwin’s Backyard, many of those studies took place...
Waste makes haste08/24/2017 - 09:00 Technology
Getting rid of bodily wastes during long space flights is a problem…. A bizarre possible solution … involves whipping the wastes in with some other ingredients to produce the most unusual rocket fuel…. The four ingredients — carbon, ammonium, nitrate and aluminum — and the waste material are just blended together, and they’re ready to go…. [The material] would...
There’s a lot of waiting in science. Collecting and interpreting evidence demands skill and commitment, creativity and curiosity — and time. Though Saturn has been known since ancient times, Galileo first observed it with a telescope in 1610. He saw the rings, but didn’t identify them as such. Not until the 1650s did Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens report a flat ring...
Letters to the Editor
Locked up08/23/2017 - 16:00 Astronomy, Microbiology, Physics
Simulations suggest that heat from an infant Earth, the sun and the moon could have vaporized the moon’s metals into a thick atmosphere, Lisa Grossman reported in “Metallic air may have swaddled moon” (SN: 8/5/17, p. 7). One way to test the idea would be to look for a ring of extra sodium in rocks around the moon’s twilight zone, where sodium snow would have accumulated. This...
Take a bow, Cassini. It’s been a marathon performance: 20 years in space, more than 200 orbits around Saturn, and hundreds of thousands of images of the giant planet, its splashy rings and its many moons. On September 15, the veteran spacecraft will use its last burst of fuel to plunge into the sixth planet from the sun. Scientists and space enthusiasts around the world will watch it go with...
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Predatory sea worms just aren’t as spiny as they used to be.
These arrow worms, which make up the phylum Chaetognatha, snatch prey with Wolverine-like claws protruding from around their mouths. Researchers now report that a newly identified species of ancient arrow worm was especially heavily armed. Dubbed Capinatator praetermissus, the predator had about 50 curved...