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  • Science & the Public

    Forget Pi Day. We should be celebrating Tau Day

    As a physics reporter and lover of mathematics, I won’t be celebrating Pi Day this year. That’s because pi is wrong.

    I don’t mean that the value is incorrect. Pi, known by the symbol π, is the number you get when you divide a circle’s circumference by its diameter: 3.14159… and so on without end. But, as some mathematicians have argued, the mathematical constant was poorly chosen, and...

    03/14/2018 - 11:30 Numbers
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers intrigued by Mars' far-out birth

    Martian mysteries

    Mars may have formed out where the asteroid belt is now, far from its planetary neighbors, Thomas Sumner reported in “New proposal reimagines Mars’ origin” (SN: 5/27/17, p. 14).

    Readers online were fascinated by Mars’ origin story. “There seemed to be evidence of actual seas on early Mars,” stargene wrote. “How can this be finessed into the idea of Mars living out...

    07/06/2017 - 12:30 Planetary Science, Genetics, Particle Physics
  • Scicurious

    Women in sports are often underrepresented in science

    On April 19, 1966, Roberta Gibb became the first woman to (unofficially) finish the Boston marathon. Women were officially allowed to enter the race in 1971, and Boston medaled its first female winner in 1972 — the year that also saw the passage of Title IX — the amendment that prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs or any program receiving federal funding.  This year, 13,...

    05/25/2016 - 07:00 Physiology, Health, Science & Society
  • Context

    Top 10 scientific mysteries for the 21st century

    The last few centuries have been pretty good for science. In the 17th century, Isaac Newton solved the ancient controversy over the nature of forces and motion with his three laws. In the 18th, Ben Franklin figured out a lot about electricity. In the 19th, Darwin explained the diversity of species, Maxwell revealed the physics of light, Mendeleyev defined the families of chemical elements. In...

    01/28/2015 - 08:00 Quantum Physics, Numbers, Cosmology
  • Reviews & Previews

    Mastering the art of self-control

    Columbia University psychologist Walter Mischel made his scientific mark by tempting children with marshmallows. For nearly 50 years, Mischel has studied whether kids would eat, say, one marshmallow right away or wait 20 minutes to receive two marshmallows. Kids who waited for double the goodies grew up to do better in school, get better jobs, maintain better physical health and feel...
    11/03/2014 - 10:00 Psychology, Science & Society
  • Feature

    Ancient famine-fighting genes can't explain obesity

    The obesity crisis has given prehistoric dining a stardom not known since Fred Flintstone introduced the Bronto Burger. Last year, “Paleo diet” topped the list of most-Googled weight loss searches, as modern Stone Age dieters sought the advice of bestsellers like The Paleo Solution or The Primal Blueprint, which encourages followers to “honor your primal genes.”

    The assumption is that...

    09/05/2014 - 14:00 Genetics, Health
  • News

    Response to bacterial infection depends on time of day

    A run-in with Salmonella may be worse at dawn than at dusk, at least for mice.

    Mice fed the nasty bacteria, a common cause of food poisoning, in the morning came down with a more severe infection than mice fed at night, researchers report May 27 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    “This is the first study that has infected mammals with a...

    05/28/2013 - 11:41 Genes & Cells, Body & Brain
  • News

    Tracing pollution links to asthma, allergy

    SAN ANTONIO — Bad actors in air pollution may contribute to asthma and allergy by subverting protective cells in the body that tone down immune reactions, researchers report. The pollution components also seem to rev up overactive immune warriors — already linked to allergies — that need no such prompting.

    The airborne culprits are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, the...

    02/25/2013 - 12:16 Body & Brain
  • People

    Comic strip science

    “I am so awesome.” [Smug grin.]

    So goes the final frame in a humorous comic called “Birds are Gross,” in which artist and field naturalist Rosemary Mosco highlights the virtues of the turkey vulture. The bird, speaking throughout (“I am a turkey vulture. Yes indeed.”), reaches this conclusion after announcing its proclivities for things like projectile vomiting...

    07/27/2012 - 13:35
  • Science & the Public

    So long Weekly Reader . . .

    I read with sadness this week that Weekly Reader is about to disappear.

    Earlier this year, Scholastic Classroom Magazines purchased the publication, one that had been an iconic source of news (throughout my elementary-school years, anyway). The buyer already had 28 subject-specific publications. It will now begin “combining the features of Weekly Reader into the Scholastic classroom...

    07/26/2012 - 00:12 Humans & Society