In Theaetetus, Plato likened memory to a wax tablet, which would adopt the image of whatever was impressed upon it. Aristotle is said to have called memory “the scribe of the soul.” Others have viewed memory as a stomach, storehouse or switchboard, while acknowledging that it sometimes seems like a leaky bucket.01/24/2018 - 13:35 Science & Society, History of Science, Neuroscience
St. Augustine and Robert Hooke also thought deeply about memory. But...
Letters to the Editor
Pedal to the universal metal01/24/2018 - 13:34 Cosmology, Archaeology, Astronomy
Some cosmologists hope to explain the universe’s accelerating expansion by fully accounting for the universe’s lumpiness, Emily Conover reported in “Simulating the universe using Einstein’s theory of gravity may solve cosmic puzzles” (SN: 11/25/17, p. 22).
The universe’s accelerating expansion “is apparently based on the observation of objects that are...
People tend to think of memories as deeply personal, ephemeral possessions — snippets of emotions, words, colors and smells stitched into our unique neural tapestries as life goes on. But a strange series of experiments conducted decades ago offered a different, more tangible perspective. The mind-bending results have gained unexpected support from recent studies.
In 1959, James Vernon...
Consider everything your smartphone has done for you today. Counted your steps? Deposited a check? Transcribed notes? Navigated you somewhere new?
Smartphones make for such versatile pocket assistants because they’re equipped with a suite of sensors, including some we may never think — or even know — about, sensing, for example, light, humidity, pressure and temperature.
A teenage girl climbed into an underground cave around 13,000 years ago. Edging through the ink-dark chamber, she accidentally plunged to her death at the bottom of a deep pit.
Rising seas eventually inundated the cave, located on Central America’s Yucatán Peninsula. But that didn’t stop scuba divers from finding and retrieving much of the girl’s skeleton in 2007.
“First Face of...
IUDs: approval of a renaissance
In 1929, the German scientist Ernst Grafenberg inserted silver rings into the uteri of 2,000 women, and reported a pregnancy rate of only 1.6 percent. Despite this history, the use of intrauterine devices, or IUDs, was not generally accepted.… A report made public last week by the FDA’s Advisory Committee on Obstetrics and Gynecology concludes that...
It was one of the flashiest mysteries in the news about a decade ago — honeybee workers were vanishing fast for no clear reason. To this day, that puzzle has never been entirely solved, researchers acknowledge.
And maybe it never will be. Colony collapse disorder, or CCD, as the sudden mass honeybee losses were called, has faded in recent years as mysteriously as it began. It’s possible...
News in Brief
OXON HILL, Md. — Future spacecraft could navigate by the light of dead stars.
Using only the timing of radiation bursts from pulsating stellar corpses, an experiment on the International Space Station was able to pinpoint its location in space in a first-ever demonstration. The technique operates like a stellar version of GPS, researchers with the Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and...
OXON HILL, Md. — Observations of a trio of dead stars have confirmed that a foundation of Einstein’s gravitational theory holds even for ultradense objects with strong gravitational fields.
The complex orbital dance of the three former stars conforms to a rule known as the strong equivalence principle, researchers reported January 10 at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society....
One person infected with strep bacteria might get a painful sore throat; another might face a life-threatening blood infection. Now, scientists are trying to pin down why.
Variation between individuals’ immune systems may not be entirely to blame. Instead, extra genes picked up by some pathogens can cause different strains to have wildly different effects on the immune system, even in...