Reviews & Previews
The Second Kind of ImpossiblePaul J. SteinhardtSimon & Schuster, $2702/19/2019 - 08:00 Physics
When Paul Steinhardt made a discovery that he had been working toward for more than 20 years, he did not cry “Eureka!” On that winter morning in the lab in 2009, he writes, he and a colleague “were dead silent, because no words were necessary.”
Steinhardt had just found a natural quasicrystal, a solid...
Fierce and swift, steel blue in color and called the world’s most perfect flying machine, the peregrine falcon is heading toward extinction in North America. The reason: DDT. Perilously high levels of the pesticide and related chemicals have been found in the eggs, fat and tissues of the birds…. [The falcons] are not picking up the DDT directly, but get it by eating other birds which...02/14/2019 - 07:00 Animals, Conservation, Toxicology
Pondering a tablet screen displaying a town scene, a pre-K student tilts her head to the side and taps her lip thoughtfully.
“What are we trying to find?” asks the plush, red and blue robot called Tega that’s perched on the desk beside the girl. The bot resembles a teddy bear–sized Furby.
“We are trying to find lavender-colored stuff,” the girl explains. Lavender is a new...
Letters to the Editor
Defining intelligence02/10/2019 - 07:15 Artificial Intelligence, Astronomy, Animals
Artificial intelligence followed fauna, diagnosed disease, mapped the moon and more in 2018, Maria Temming reported in “Artificial intelligence is mastering a wider variety of jobs than ever before” (SN: 12/22/18 & 1/5/19, p. 25).
Online reader greg found the term “artificial intelligence” misleading. “In reality what we call AI are merely classification...
For centuries, scientists have strived to figure out the workings of the human brain, but that blob of matter tucked inside a bony shell long resisted efforts to divine its secrets.02/10/2019 - 07:00 Neuroscience, Mental Health, Biomedicine
Techniques invented in the early 1900s, including angiography and electroencephalography, made it possible to examine some characteristics of the brain without invading the skull. But it wasn’t until the...
Like seismic sensors planted in quiet ground, hundreds of tiny electrodes rested in the outer layer of the 44-year-old woman’s brain. These sensors, each slightly larger than a sesame seed, had been implanted under her skull to listen for the first rumblings of epileptic seizures.
The electrodes gave researchers unprecedented access to the patient’s brain. With the woman’s permission,...
News in Brief
For those of us who cringe at the sight of needles, there may someday be a less daunting alternative to getting a shot: swallowing a pill-sized device that delivers medication by painlessly pricking the inside of the stomach.
A prototype of the device, described in the Feb. 8 Science, administers insulin. But similar ingestible capsules could also replace skin injections of antibodies...
Sea level rise over the next century won’t get a feared boost from Antarctic ice cliffs crumbling into the ocean like dominoes, a new study suggests.
The finding, published February 7 in Nature, is based on a new statistical analysis showing that such a rapid collapse of marine ice cliffs in Antarctica was extremely unlikely to have happened in the past, even during some of Earth’s...
For kids, getting strep throat again and again is a pain. It’s also a problem little understood by scientists. Now a study that analyzed kids’ tonsils hints at why such repeat infections may happen.
Children with recurrent strep infections had smaller immune structures crucial to the development of antibodies in their tonsils than kids who hadn’t had repeated infections, researchers...