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  • News

    Nanotubes get into gear for new roll

    From Minneapolis, at a meeting of the American Physical Society

    Rolling, rolling, rolling. Keep those nanotubes rolling.

    Carbon nanotubes are slender, hollow, cylindrical molecules of pure carbon. Extraordinarily strong and flexible, with intriguing electronic properties, the microscopic tubes offer scientists pure fascination (SN: 8/21/99, p. 127).

    Now, Michael R. Falvo and...

    09/27/2002 - 16:47 Physics
  • News

    Devilish polygons speak of past stress

    From Minneapolis, at a meeting of the American Physical Society

    The colorful names remain, such as Devil's Postpile and Giant's Causeway. Long abandoned, however, are fearsome notions that supernatural beings made these spectacular rock formations in California, Northern Ireland, and elsewhere.

    These close-packed, orderly arrays of rock columns, some of them hundreds of meters...

    09/27/2002 - 16:42 Physics
  • News

    Dinosaurs, party of six, meat eating

    Traditionally, big meat eaters like Tyrannosaurus rex and Giganotosauris have been viewed as solitary eat-and-run types. Now, the discovery of a dino dinner party may reform the image of the carnivorous lifestyle.

    Scientists found bones from six members of a new species of giant meat-eating dinosaur squished into the mud of a fossil bed in Patagonia. Over 40 feet long with knifelike, 4-...

    09/27/2002 - 16:38 Paleontology
  • News

    Fossil gets a leg up on snake family tree

    A newly described fossil snake with legs may have climbed higher into the snake family tree than previously thought.

    The 95-million-year-old fossil snake, dubbed Haasiophis terrasanctus, is a relative of another legged fossil snake—Pachyrhachis problematicus—that some scientists think may be the earliest link between snakes and extinct marine lizards, like mosasaurs (SN: 4/...

    09/27/2002 - 16:01 Paleontology
  • News

    Random packing of spheres

    The familiar arrangement evident in piles of neatly stacked oranges at a supermarket represents the tightest possible packing of identical spheres (SN: 8/15/98, p. 103: http://www.sciencenews.org/sn_arc98/8_15_98/fob7.htm). The ordered spheres occupy 74 percent of the total space available. The fraction of space typically filled by randomly packed spheres—whether peas poured into a bag or...

    09/27/2002 - 15:24 Numbers
  • News

    Orbiting in a figure-eight loop

    Like toy cars chasing each other on a looped racetrack, three stars can theoretically trace out a figure-eight orbit in space. This newly discovered, mathematically surprising motion arises from the force of gravity acting on three bodies of equal mass whose movements are timed so that each body in turn passes between the other two.

    Mathematicians Richard Montgomery of the University of...

    09/27/2002 - 15:21 Numbers
  • News

    Fading to black doesn't empower fish

    Field studies of three-spined stickleback fish dash a textbook example of an evolutionary principle, claims an evolutionary biology team. Males of Gasterosteus aculeatus typically turn red on their bellies and blue-green on top when breeding—unless they live in Washington's Chehalis River watershed. There, males turn jet-black.

    That quirk achieved textbook status as the only documented...

    09/27/2002 - 15:17
  • News

    Hey, we're richer than we thought!

    The latest inventory of life in the United States has turned up an extra 100,000 species. The nation has at least 200,000 animals, plants, and fungi, according to Precious Heritage (2000, Stein et al., Oxford University Press). That impressive total doesn't include any of the national wealth of algae and other protists, bacteria, or viruses.

    Relentless burrowing for data in...

    09/27/2002 - 15:12
  • News

    Titanic iceberg sets sail from Antarctica

    In the biggest icebreaking event in a century, an iceberg roughly the size of Connecticut has split off (red arrows) from Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf and may soon drift into the Ross Sea, scientists at the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced March 22.

    Satellite photos show that the iceberg is 295 kilometers long and 37 km wide. That may be a record, says...

    09/27/2002 - 14:34 Earth
  • News

    Reviewers see red over recent Mars programs

    NASA's most recent missions to Mars failed because they were underfunded, managed by inexperienced people, and insufficiently tested.

    That was the scathing message of a report recently delivered to the space agency and made public this week. The mantra of "faster, better, cheaper" promoted by NASA Administrator Dan Goldin in the early 1990s remains worthy, A. Thomas Young,...

    09/27/2002 - 13:04 Planetary Science