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  • Context

    Before his early death, Riemann freed geometry from Euclidean prejudices

    Bernhard Riemann was a man with a hypothesis.

    He was confident that it was true, probably. But he didn’t prove it. And attempts over the last century and a half by others to prove it have failed.

    A new claim by the esteemed mathematician Michael Atiyah that Riemann’s hypothesis has now been proved may also be exaggerated. But sadly Riemann’s early death was not. He died at age 39....

    09/28/2018 - 07:00 History of Science, Numbers
  • 50 years ago, a flu pandemic spurred vaccine research

    Girding against a new strain

    Flu comes in many kinds, and the current vaccine … has little effect against a newcomer that has afflicted at least 400,000 persons in Hong Kong. The Asian city was the source of the 1957 epidemic in the United States. Fears that it may provide a springboard for another one have caused the Public Health Service to ask eight pharmaceutical companies to...

    09/21/2018 - 09:00 Health, Immune Science, History of Science
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Accessory to War’ probes the uneasy alliance between space science and the military

    Accessory to WarNeil deGrasse Tyson and Avis LangW.W. Norton & Co., $30

    Late-night comedians skewered Vice President Mike Pence in August when he announced preliminary plans for a new branch of the U.S. military dubbed the “Space Force.” Jimmy Kimmel likened the idea to a Michael Bay action movie, while Jimmy Fallon quipped that the Space Force’s chain of command would go “E.T...

    09/04/2018 - 10:00 Astronomy, Technology, History of Science, Science & Society
  • Context

    5 decades after his death, George Gamow’s contributions to science survive

    Half a century ago, if you asked any teenage science fan to name the best popular science writers, you’d get two names: Isaac Asimov and George Gamow.

    Asimov was prominent not only for his nonfiction science books, but also for his science fiction. Gamow was known not only for writing popular science, but was also a prominent scientist who had made important contributions both to physics...

    08/28/2018 - 06:30 History of Science
  • Reviews & Previews

    The study of human heredity got its start in insane asylums

    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...

    07/01/2018 - 08:00 Genetics, History of Science, Mental Health, Numbers
  • 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