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  • People

    Postcards from Voyager

    To catch the faint signal of a spacecraft leaving the solar system, you have to listen very carefully. At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., that’s Suzanne Dodd’s job.

    Dodd (below) is project manager for NASA’s twin Voyager probes, launched in 1977 to explore Jupiter and Saturn. Voyager 2 did that and more, as the first probe to fly by Uranus, in 1986, and Neptune, in...

    06/28/2013 - 18:52 Astronomy
  • Nobelist's Cancer Theory

    The key to finding the cause and treatment of cancer is the balance between two newly found substances in the body, Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi, the 1937 nobelist in medicine, has suggested. The substances are promine, which causes sudden cell growth, and retine, a similar chemical that holds back growth…. He predicted in Science, 140: 1391, 1963, that the new theory will “open a wide...

    06/28/2013 - 10:11 Cancer
  • Reviews & Previews

    Billion-Dollar Fish

    From imitation crab to McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, Alaska pollock is ubiquitous. American fishermen haul in more than a billion dollars’ worth of the flaky white fish annually. Yet just a century ago, Americans had no interest in pollock. Bailey, a fisheries biologist, documents the fish’s rise in popularity over the last 60 years, interweaving the scientific, political and...

    06/28/2013 - 10:08 Conservation
  • Reviews & Previews

    Brilliant Blunders

    Even brilliant scientists have bad days. Consider chemist Linus Pauling, who described the alpha helix structure of proteins in 1951. When he attempted to do the same for DNA, however, he botched it — badly. Among other problems, he flubbed the basic chemistry, proposing a structure for deoxyribonucleic acid that wasn’t an acid.

    When asked about Pauling’s faulty DNA model, one of...

    06/28/2013 - 10:04 History of Science
  • Letters to the Editor

    Letters to the editor

    Fructose fever I was fascinated by the article “Sweet confusion” (SN: 6/1/13, p. 22) about the ambiguous health effects of high fructose corn syrup. I was surprised, however, to find little mention of taste, flavor and satiety. I can clearly recall from my childhood the satisfaction from a bottle of Coca-Cola. The transition in America in the 1970s from sucrose to corn syrup as a sweetener in...

    06/28/2013 - 09:59
  • News

    Math targets cities' essence

    The notion that cities are all alike borders on blasphemy. Residents of the world’s great metropolises, from New York to London to Tokyo, speak of their homes as of a first love or old friend. But decades of analyses hint that cities, mathematically speaking, might actually all be the same. Now for the first time, those observations have been tidily and elegantly drawn together into a formula...

    06/28/2013 - 09:33 Science & Society
  • Feature

    Cicadas' odd life cycle poses evolutionary conundrums

    After 17 years underground, throngs of ruby-eyed cicadas clawed up through the soil this year to partake in a once-in-a-lifetime, synchronized mating frenzy. Except it wasn’t one big insect orgy: It was three.

    The insects that unearthed themselves to breed in 2013 belong to three distinct species. You need only flip them over to see some differences, written in the varieties of...

    06/28/2013 - 09:20 Animals
  • Feature

    When the atom went quantum

    Before Niels Bohr, atoms baffled science’s brightest brains.

    For millennia, atoms had been phantoms, widely suspected to exist but remaining stubbornly invisible — though not indivisible, as their name (Greek for “uncuttable”) originally implied. By the start of the 20th century, physicists knew that atoms had electrically charged parts; the favorite model envisioned blobs...

    06/28/2013 - 09:00 Particle Physics
  • News in Brief

    Satellite captures Earth's greenery

    A new instrument onboard the NASA–NOAA Suomi satellite has been capturing exquisitely detailed views of seasonal and environmental shifts in plant cover. Light sensors on the satellite identify vegetation by detecting differences in reflected amounts of visible light, which plants absorb for photosynthesis, and near-infrared light, which plants don’t absorb. Subtle changes in greenness can...

    06/21/2013 - 15:50 Earth
  • News

    Human brain mapped in 3-D with high resolution

    A new 3-D map of the brain is the best thing since sliced cold cuts, at least to some neuroscientists.

    “It’s a remarkable tour-de-force to reconstruct an entire human brain with such accuracy,” says David Van Essen, a neuroscientist at Washington University in St. Louis.

    Using a high-tech deli slicer and about 100,000 computer processors, researchers shaved a human brain...

    06/20/2013 - 14:01 Body & Brain