Power within 30 years
Controlled thermonuclear fusion is moving so well that full-scale development could begin within five years, says Dr. David J. Rose....It might take 20 to 30 years beyond that before fusion could move into the power grid, though, he predicts. — Science News, February 17, 1968Update
Governments and private-sector start-ups are still trying to wrangle...
Letters to the Editor
Dying light02/07/2018 - 15:30 Astronomy, Physics, Science & Society
Supernova iPTF14hls has erupted continually since its discovery in 2014, fluctuating in brightness at least five times. It may have had two other outbursts in the past, Lisa Grossman reported in “This star cheated death, exploding again and again” (SN: 12/9/17, p. 8).
Reddit user Bobgushmore wondered if the exploding star might actually be a supernova impostor similar to...
I know a lot of adults who don’t like to cook, but I’ve never met a child who doesn’t enjoy playing with a toy kitchen — or one who doesn’t want to help chop vegetables for dinner. Other versions of practical play: A cousin, at the age of just 4 or 5, asked for only one thing for Christmas — a snow brush. And on a beach trip last year, I witnessed a duo of 2-year-olds squealing with...02/07/2018 - 15:30 Science & Society, Psychology, Anthropology
Like sailors and spelunkers, physicists know the power of a sturdy knot.
Some physicists have tied their hopes for a new generation of data storage to minuscule knotlike structures called skyrmions, which can form in magnetic materials. Incredibly tiny and tough to undo, magnetic skyrmions could help feed humankind’s hunger for ever-smaller electronics.
On traditional hard drives,...
Youngsters have probably been playing their way into cultural competence for at least tens of thousands of years. So why are signs of children largely absent from the archaeological record?
A cartoon that Biblical scholar Kristine Garroway taped up in her college dorm helps to explain kids’ invisibility at ancient sites: Two men in business suits stare intently at an unidentifiable round...
Young children travel to fantasy worlds every day, packing just imaginations and a toy or two.
Some preschoolers scurry across ocean floors carrying toy versions of cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants. Other kids trek to distant universes with miniature replicas of Star Wars robots R2-D2 and C-3PO. Throngs of youngsters fly on broomsticks and cast magic spells with Harry Potter and...
Reviews & Previews
Death: A Graveside CompanionJoanna Ebenstein (ed.)Thames & Hudson, $40
Death: A Graveside Companion makes for an unusual coffee-table book, with its coppery etched Grim Reaper on the cover. Yet you may be surprised by how much fun it is to pore through the book’s lavish artwork of skulls, cadavers and fanciful imaginings of the afterlife.
There is, after all, a reason for...
Reviews & Previews
Machines That ThinkToby WalshPrometheus Books, $16
Movies and other media are full of mixed messages about the risks and rewards of building machines with minds of their own. For every manipulative automaton like Ex Machina’s Ava (SN: 5/16/15, p. 26), there’s a helpful Star Wars droid. And while some tech titans such as Elon Musk warn of the threats artificial intelligence presents...
Weather changes, but thanks to a new high-tech textile, someday you may not have to switch out your outfit.
Materials scientists and engineers at Stanford University have developed a multilayered textile that traps body heat on one side and passively radiates heat away from the body when flipped inside out. The material kept artificial skin within a comfortable range of 32° to 36°...
Frequent fliers, take note. Scientists have figured out how cells quickly pack long chromosomes into compact, organized bundles — a key step before cells divide. The new finding unifies two competing ideas about the process: whether it involves winding chromosomes into a spiral staircase or into a set of loops. It turns out cells use two different ring-shaped proteins called condensins to do...