One of the planet’s deadliest viruses makes an annual pass through the United States with little fanfare. It rarely generates flashy headlines or news footage of health workers in hazmat suits. There’s no sudden panic when a sick person shows up coughing and feverish in an emergency room. Yet before next spring, this season’s lethal germ will probably have infected millions of Americans,...
Reviews & Previews
Many books about science are meant to be pleasure reading. Such books attempt to convey the wonder and fascination and excitement of science, and ideally some of the substance as well. After all, good popular science writing is not only engaging and entertaining, but also informative. But even very informative popular books are not designed to be fully educational about the science in...
The Science Life
Robert Klapper has examined scores of damaged and diseased human knees, hips and shoulders. But a visit to the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum introduced the orthopedic surgeon to the suffering of an extinct cat — and a scientific mystery. In 2000, Klapper took a break from his patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles to visit the nearby tar pits, where myriad mammals and other...
No other science engages human curiosity like astronomy. From antiquity onward, attempts to comprehend the architecture of the cosmos have commanded a substantial fraction of humankind’s mental budget for intellectual endeavor. Only in the last century, though, have astronomers grasped the structure of the cosmos accurately. Just a hundred years ago, a great debate raged about the fuzzy...
Haumea can do the hula-hoop. The egg-shaped dwarf planet is the first object beyond Neptune to be spotted sporting a ring of particles.
“It now appears that rings can be common in the outer solar system,” says Jose-Luis Ortiz of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia in Granada, Spain.
On January 21, Ortiz and colleagues used 12 telescopes at 10 observatories to peer into the...
Reviews & Previews
The River of ConsciousnessOliver SacksKnopf, $27
The experience of reading the essays that make up The River of Consciousness is very much like peering into an ever-changing stream. Pebbles shift as the water courses by, revealing unexpected facets below.
The essays, by neurologist Oliver Sacks and arranged into an anthology two weeks before his death in 2015, meander through such...
View the video
A new robot has the mobility of R2-D2 and the manners of C-3PO.
This knee-high, self-driving bot abides by social protocols as it weaves through foot traffic: keep right, pass left, respect others’ personal space. The machine, presented at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in Vancouver on September 25, paves the way for robots...
Neonicotinoid pesticides are turning up in honey on every continent with honeybees.
The first global honey survey testing for these controversial nicotine-derived pesticides shows just how widely honeybees are exposed to the chemicals, which have been shown to affect the health of bees and other insects. Three out of four honey samples tested contained measurable levels of at least one...
DNA of people who lived around 34,000 years ago reveals an especially lively social scene that may have been a key to humans’ evolutionary success.
Much like hunter-gatherers today, ancient Eurasians married outside their home groups and formed webs of friends and in-laws vital for eventually building cities and civilizations, a new study suggests.
Long-gone hunter-gatherers lived...
The earthy moon
Space scientists have been intrigued for years with the possibility of finding usable oxygen on the moon — not in the lunar atmosphere, since there essentially is none, but in the rocks. As long ago as 1962 … [NASA researchers] predicted vast lunar processing plants turning out 4,000 pounds of liquid oxygen per month, both for breathing and as an oxidizer for rocket fuel...