Reviews & Previews
Genetics in the MadhouseTheodore M. PorterPrinceton Univ., $35
England’s King George III descended into mental chaos, or what at the time was called madness, in 1789. Physicians could not say whether he would recover or if a replacement should assume the throne. That political crisis jump-started the study of human heredity.
Using archival records, science historian Theodore M...
Reviews & Previews
Spying on WhalesNick PyensonViking, $27
Just before humans evolved, whales and dolphins were, pound for pound, the brainiest creatures on Earth. Another cetacean superlative: Today’s biggest whales are heftier than the largest dinosaurs that ever lived. The evolutionary trends that produced big, brainy marine animals are just a few of the fascinating tales told in Spying on Whales...
Next in speedy trains
Future trains, in [Hisanojo] Ozawa’s opinion, will all be powered by rockets and run over rollers instead of rails…. His next model will be equipped with three rocket engines and will aim for a speed of 1,180 kilometers an hour, or 0.996 Mach. — Science News, July 6, 1968.Update
A rocket-boosted model train from Ozawa, who designed aircraft for the...
This wasn’t 15-year-old Connor McMahon’s first time in the hospital. But the 107° fever he’d been running for three days had his dad frightened. The teen was hallucinating, talking gibberish and spouting curses.
“I thought he was going to die,” says Connor’s father, Don McMahon, who stayed close as his son received and recovered from an experimental treatment for leukemia. “It was really...
Letters to the Editor
What lies beneath06/27/2018 - 07:15 Genetics, Earth, Animals
Liquid pumped into the ground to generate geothermal power may have triggered a large earthquake that shook part of South Korea last November, Carolyn Gramling reported in “Pumping water underground for power may have triggered South Korean quake” (SN: 5/26/18, p. 8).
Reader Elizabeth McDowell asked if there may be a link between geothermal power generation at a...
Medical innovations can be risky, as this issue’s cover story on new CAR-T cell therapies for cancer reveals. The treatments, which tailor a patient’s own immune system cells to attack cancer, can be astonishingly successful. But CAR-T therapy can also be an untamed beast, unleashing a ferocious immune response that indiscriminately attacks the body. The challenge scientists face now...06/27/2018 - 07:00 Health, Cancer, History of Science
Around 13,000 years ago, Earth was emerging from its last great ice age. The vast frozen sheets that had covered much of North America, Europe and Asia for thousands of years were retreating. Giant mammals — steppe bison, woolly mammoths and saber-toothed cats — grazed or hunted across tundra and grasslands. A Paleo-Indian group of hunter-gatherers who eventually gave rise to the Clovis people...
Reviews & Previews
ArousedRandi Hutter EpsteinW.W. Norton & Co., $26.95
The first scientific experiment on hormones took an approach that sounds unscientific: lopping off roosters’ testicles. It was 1848, and Dr. Arnold Berthold castrated two of his backyard roosters. The cocks’ red combs faded and shrank, and the birds stopped chasing hens.
Then things got really weird. The doctor castrated...
When Voyager 1 revealed lightning on Jupiter in 1979, something about the flashes didn’t make sense. From a distance, it seemed like the radio waves from the massive planet’s lightning bolts didn’t reach the high frequency emitted by lightning on Earth.
But the Juno spacecraft, which has been orbiting much closer to Jupiter’s surface for the last two years, has helped solve the mystery...
Suicide research is undergoing a timing shift, and not a moment too soon. A new breed of studies that track daily — and even hourly — changes in suicidal thinking is providing intriguing, although still preliminary, insights into how to identify those on the verge of trying to kill themselves.
Monitoring ways in which suicidal thoughts wax and wane over brief time periods, it turns out,...