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  • Context

    Top 10 papers from Physical Review’s first 125 years

    No anniversary list is ever complete. Just last month, for instance, my Top 10 scientific anniversaries of 2018 omitted the publication two centuries ago of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It should have at least received honorable mention.

    Perhaps more egregious, though, was overlooking the 125th anniversary of the physics journal Physical Review. Since 1893, the Physical Review has...

    02/08/2018 - 11:00 History of Science
  • Feature

    When it’s playtime, many kids prefer reality over fantasy

    Young children travel to fantasy worlds every day, packing just imaginations and a toy or two.

    Some preschoolers scurry across ocean floors carrying toy versions of cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants. Other kids trek to distant universes with miniature replicas of Star Wars robots R2-D2 and C-3PO. Throngs of youngsters fly on broomsticks and cast magic spells with Harry Potter and...

    02/06/2018 - 11:45 Psychology, Anthropology, Archaeology
  • Feature

    Ancient kids’ toys have been hiding in the archaeological record

    Youngsters have probably been playing their way into cultural competence for at least tens of thousands of years. So why are signs of children largely absent from the archaeological record?

    A cartoon that Biblical scholar Kristine Garroway taped up in her college dorm helps to explain kids’ invisibility at ancient sites: Two men in business suits stare intently at an unidentifiable round...

    02/06/2018 - 11:45 Anthropology, Archaeology
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Death: A Graveside Companion’ offers an outlet for your morbid curiosity

    Death: A Graveside CompanionJoanna Ebenstein (ed.)Thames & Hudson, $40

    Death: A Graveside Companion makes for an unusual coffee-table book, with its coppery etched Grim Reaper on the cover. Yet you may be surprised by how much fun it is to pore through the book’s lavish artwork of skulls, cadavers and fanciful imaginings of the afterlife.

    There is, after all, a reason for...

    02/04/2018 - 08:00 Science & Society, History of Science, Anthropology
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Machines That Think’ predicts the future of artificial intelligence

    Machines That ThinkToby WalshPrometheus Books, $16

    Movies and other media are full of mixed messages about the risks and rewards of building machines with minds of their own. For every manipulative automaton like Ex Machina’s Ava (SN: 5/16/15, p. 26), there’s a helpful Star Wars droid. And while some tech titans such as Elon Musk warn of the threats artificial intelligence presents...

    02/02/2018 - 15:20 Artificial Intelligence, Computing, Science & Society
  • Teaser

    New textile weathers temperature shift

    Weather changes, but thanks to a new high-tech textile, someday you may not have to switch out your outfit.

    Materials scientists and engineers at Stanford University have developed a multilayered textile that traps body heat on one side and passively radiates heat away from the body when flipped inside out. The material kept artificial skin within a comfortable range of 32° to 36°...

    02/02/2018 - 11:27 Materials, Technology, Chemistry
  • Science Visualized

    Here’s how cells rapidly stuff two meters of DNA into microscopic capsules

    Frequent fliers, take note. Scientists have figured out how cells quickly pack long chromosomes into compact, organized bundles — a key step before cells divide. The new finding unifies two competing ideas about the process: whether it involves winding chromosomes into a spiral staircase or into a set of loops. It turns out cells use two different ring-shaped proteins called condensins to do...

    01/29/2018 - 16:30 Cells, Genetics
  • The Science Life

    Here’s why so many saiga antelope mysteriously died in 2015

    Spring calving season for the saiga antelope of central Kazakhstan is a delight for the researchers who keep tabs on the critically endangered animals. During the day, thousands of newborn saigas lie quiet, hidden within a sea of waving grass. Mothers return twice daily to feed them. “If you come at dawn and dusk, it’s magical,” says E.J. Milner-Gulland, a conservation biologist at the...

    01/29/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Conservation, Microbes
  • News

    Life may have been possible in Earth’s earliest, most hellish eon

    Maybe Earth’s early years weren’t so hellish after all.

    Asteroid strikes repeatedly bombarded the planet during its first eon, but the heat released by those hits wasn’t as sterilizing as once thought, new research suggests. Simulations indicate that after the first few hundred million years of bombardment, the heat from the impacts had dissipated enough that 10 to 75 percent of the top...

    01/26/2018 - 07:00 Earth, Evolution
  • News

    An ancient jaw pushes humans’ African departure back in time

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    A fossil jaw unearthed in Israel is speaking up about when humans departed Africa. The jaw’s message, at least to its finders: That ancient exodus started much earlier than many researchers had assumed.

    Misliya Cave on Israel’s Mount Carmel has yielded what its discoverers regard as a partial Homo sapiens jaw with an estimated age of between around 177,000 and 194,...

    01/25/2018 - 14:00 Anthropology, Archaeology, Archaeology