Look at any map of the Atlantic Ocean, and you might feel the urge to slide South America and Africa together. The two continents just beg to nestle next to each other, with Brazil’s bulge locking into West Africa’s dimple. That visible clue, along with several others, prompted Alfred Wegener to propose over a century ago that the continents had once been joined in a single enormous landmass....
Everybody wants more power from their batteries. Smartphones and laptops always need recharging. Electric car drivers must carefully plan their routes to avoid being stranded far from a charging station. Anyone who struggles with a tangle of chargers every night would prefer a battery that can last for weeks or months.
For researchers who specialize in batteries, though, the drive for a...
Reviews & Previews
Time TravelJames GleickPantheon, $26.95
It’s kind of daring to write a science book about something that — you must remind your readers — doesn’t exist. That’s James Gleick’s task in Time Travel, an engaging and entertaining look at science that will always remain fiction.
It’s lucidly written, a breeze to read and erudite in assessing a vast range of literary and popular media...
Reviews & Previews
Furry LogicMatin Durrani and Liz KalaugherBloomsbury, $27
Warning: Furry Logic is not, as the title might suggest, a detailed exploration of mammals’ reasoning skills. Instead, it’s a fun, informative chronicle of how myriad animals take advantage of the laws of physics.
Science writers Matin Durrani and Liz Kalaugher cite a trove of recent (and often surprising) research findings...
Tricking some bug into drowning takes finesse, especially for a hungry meat eater with no brain, eyes or moving parts. Yet California pitcher plants are very good at it.
Growing where deposits of the mineral serpentine would kill most other plants, Darlingtonia californica survives in low-nutrient soil by being “very meat dependent,” says David Armitage of the University of Notre Dame in...
50 Years Ago
Tenth moon of Saturn
The first natural satellite in the solar system to be discovered since artificial satellites were launched has been found circling Saturn. Dr. Audouin Dollfus of the Observatory of Physical Astronomy at Meudon, France, spotted Saturn’s tenth satellite on three photographs taken in mid-December when the planet’s rings were seen edge-on from earth. — Science News,...
What Were They Thinking?
New research is stirring the pot about an ancient Egyptian burial practice.
Many ancient peoples, including Egyptians, buried some of their dead in ceramic pots or urns. Researchers have long thought these pot burials, which often recycled containers used for domestic purposes, were a common, make-do burial for poor children.
But at least in ancient Egypt, the practice was not...
Hollywood space flicks typically feature one type of hero: astronauts who defy the odds to soar into space and back again. But now a group of behind-the-scenes heroes from the early days of the U.S. space program are getting their due. Black female mathematicians performed essential calculations to safely send astronauts to and from Earth’s surface — in defiance of flagrant...
SAN FRANCISCO — One climate doomsday scenario can be downgraded, new research suggests.
Decades of atmospheric measurements from a site in northern Alaska show that rapidly rising temperatures there have not significantly increased methane emissions from the neighboring permafrost-covered landscape, researchers reported December 15 at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting.
News in Brief
An antimatter atom abides by the same rules as its matter look-alike. Scientists studying antihydrogen have found that the energy needed to bump the atoms into an excited, or high-energy, state is the same as for normal hydrogen atoms.
Scientists at the European particle physics lab CERN in Geneva created antihydrogen atoms by combining antiprotons and positrons, the electron’s...