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  • Wild Things

    Some elephants get the point

    Not all animals understand what a human means when he points at something. Dogs get it, as do several other domesticated animals. Now we can add African elephants to that list.

    The pointing test, known as the “object-choice” task, is one of the ways that scientists investigate whether animals, including humans, understand social cues. The set-up is simple: A reward, often food, is placed...

    10/10/2013 - 12:28 Animals
  • Science & the Public

    Terrorist-resistant ‘source’ of moly-99 hits the U.S.

    Molybdenum-99 is the radioactive feedstock for the most widely used diagnostic nuclear-medicine isotope. On December 6, the first commercial batch of moly-99 that had been produced using a terrorist-resistant process arrived in the United States from a reactor in South Africa.

    Instead of using highly enriched — i.e. weapons-grade  — uranium, or HEU, the new process relies on low-...

    12/07/2010 - 13:00 Technology, Humans & Society, Biomedicine
  • Reviews & Previews

    Adventures Among Ants: A Global Safari With a Cast of Trillions by Mark W. Moffett

    A biologist and photographer (who earned his Ph.D. under E.O. Wilson) captures the hidden worlds of ants.

    University of California Press, 2010, 280 p., $29.95.
    05/07/2010 - 13:05
  • News

    Chimps may be aware of others’ deaths

    View a video

    Pansy the chimpanzee died surrounded by friends and family who cared for her as best they could and reacted to her demise with silent somberness. Pansy’s story, as well as those of two mothers unable to let go of their deceased infants, raises the possibility that chimpanzees know when a companion has died and realize that he or she will never return, two new...
    04/26/2010 - 14:57 Animals, Life & Evolution
  • Reviews & Previews

    Book Review: The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces by Frank Wilczek

    For a safari-like adventure into the world of physics, follow Wilczek’s lead. Quirky but knowledgeable, he explores the essence of the matter that makes up the universe — combining the enthusiasm of someone like Jeff Corwin with the thoughtfulness of a David Attenborough.“I invite you to expand your view of reality,” Wilczek writes. “I invite you to expand the way you think.”Over the past few...

    12/22/2008 - 10:43
  • Reviews & Previews

    Central Park in the Dark: More Mysteries of Urban Wildlife

    Marie Winn’s tale of adventures in Central Park begins with darkness. She explores the cultural and literary associations between night and death, and the backstory of why humans are afraid of the dark. But, for her, curiosity and logic override fear — these days more crime occurs in the park during the day. So Winn sets off and running on a nighttime safari through the 800...

    08/29/2008 - 13:07
  • Science Surfing

    Wildlife Finder

    For a sofa safari, type in a location somewhere on the planet (by city, country, or even zip code) and see what kinds of natural habitat lie nearby. Created by the World Wildlife Federation, this Web site generates a list of mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles reported in that type of habitat and links them to Google's image search. Or fans of particular species, be they bald eagles or...

    08/17/2005 - 13:42
  • Feature

    Genes on Display

    A Time magazine cover featuring geneticists Francis Collins and J. Craig Venter. The box for an adult videocasette, entitled "Designer Genes," showing a buxom blonde in a revealing lab coat. A comic book called "The New Mutants." One of James Watson's original wire-and-metal models of the double-helical DNA structure, which he and Francis Crick discovered. This odd assortment of objects,...

    11/15/2004 - 12:52 Humans & Society
  • Feature

    Figuring Out Fibroids

    There was a lot that Cynthia Morton didn't know about uterine fibroids when she began studying them in 1989. She didn't know, for instance, that she already had or would soon develop one. That revelation came during her pregnancy in 1991, when a fibroid showed up on an ultrasound test she had received to monitor the pregnancy. For Morton, a geneticist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston...

    09/07/2004 - 13:00 Biomedicine
  • Math Trek

    Five-Suit Decks, Traffic-Jam Puzzles, and Other Treats

    Tired of playing the same old card games with the same old cards? One option is to expand the deck to include five suits instead of just four.

    Normally, a standard deck's 52 cards are divided equally among four suits: spades, clubs, diamonds, and hearts. These suits come into play in a host of card games. In poker, for example, a player holds five cards and seeks...

    12/03/2002 - 12:26 Numbers