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  • Editor's Note

    Medical breakthroughs come with a human cost

    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
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Aroused’ recounts the fascinating history of hormones

    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...

    06/25/2018 - 16:10 Biomedicine, Health, History of Science, Science & Society
  • Editor's Note

    So what do you know about Emmy Noether?

    Emmy Noether may be the most influential mathematician you’ve never heard of.

    In 1918, she solved a puzzle in Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. To do that, she created a mathematical theorem that changed forever how scientists study the universe, one that remains a guiding star for theoretical physics.

    Not only was she a scientific pioneer, Noether was by all...

    06/12/2018 - 07:15 History of Science, Science & Society, Physics
  • 50 years ago, NASA astronauts prepared to return to space

    Apollo milestone at last

    The spacecraft fire that killed three Apollo astronauts and rocked the space agency a year and a half ago is still being felt.… Last week, after a series of delays … a major milestone was finally reached: the first manned tests of an Apollo spacecraft to include all the new equipment and safeguards incorporated since the fire. — Science News, June 8, 1968....

    06/07/2018 - 07:00 Technology, History of Science
  • Reviews & Previews

    The history of heredity makes for a fascinating, and chilling, read

    She Has Her Mother’s LaughCarl ZimmerDutton, $30

    The Elephant Man, novelist Pearl S. Buck and Phoebus, god of the sun, all find their way into science writer Carl Zimmer’s latest book. In She Has Her Mother’s Laugh, Zimmer uses famous moments in history — and Greek mythology — to explain genetics and how researchers have come to understand heredity and try to manipulate it.

    ...

    05/29/2018 - 09:00 Genetics, History of Science, Science & Society
  • Context

    Pluto’s demotion ignores astronomical history

    If Dr. Seuss had been an astronomer, Horton the Elephant (who heard a Who) would have said “a planet’s a planet, no matter how small.”

    Even Pluto.

    But don’t quote Dr. Seuss to the International Astronomical Union. In 2006, the IAU declared Pluto a planet not. 

    IAU Resolution B5 (not to be confused with Le Petit Prince’s asteroid B 612) declared that in order to be considered...

    05/25/2018 - 13:08 Astronomy, History of Science, Planetary Science
  • Context

    In honor of his centennial, the Top 10 Feynman quotations

    As Richard Feynman once said, “a man cannot live beyond the grave,” and so surely Feynman could not speak from the grave, either. Except that actually, he did.

    For years after his death in 1988, books appeared with collections of Feynman’s articles, talks and other miscellaneous writings. Together with his two autobiographical books and his famous lectures on physics, those works offer...

    05/11/2018 - 06:00 History of Science
  • Context

    A celebration of curiosity for Feynman’s 100th birthday

    Richard Feynman was a curious character.

    He advertised as much in the subtitle of his autobiography, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character. Everybody knew that, in many respects, Feynman was an oddball.

    But he was curious in every other sense of the word as well. His curiosity about nature, about how the world works, led to a Nobel Prize in physics...

    05/08/2018 - 06:00 History of Science
  • Reviews & Previews

    Fossils sparked Charles Darwin’s imagination

    Darwin’s FossilsAdrian ListerSmithsonian Books, $19.95

    Charles Darwin famously derived his theory of evolution from observations he made of species and their geographic distributions during his five-year voyage around the world on the H.M.S. Beagle. But in the introduction of On the Origin of Species, the naturalist also cites another influence: the thousands of fossils that he...

    04/08/2018 - 08:00 Evolution, History of Science, Paleontology
  • Reviews & Previews

    Why the Nobel Prize might need a makeover

    Losing the Nobel PrizeBrian KeatingW.W. Norton & Co., $27.95

    Dust may seem insignificant, but in science, it can cost you a Nobel Prize.

    That’s what happened to Brian Keating, a major contributor to the BICEP2 team that claimed in 2014 to have found the first definitive evidence of cosmic inflation (SN: 4/5/14, p. 6), a period of extremely rapid expansion just after the...

    04/02/2018 - 09:00 Cosmology, History of Science, Astronomy