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  • Rudi Mandl
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  • Context

    The amateur who helped Einstein see the light

    Generally speaking, general relativity is not the sort of physics that offers much fodder for amateurs. Its mathematical intricacies were too much even for Einstein at first. He struggled for years to find the equations that showed how general relativity could describe gravity, finally succeeding in 1915.

    But a couple of decades later, an eccentric amateur noticed a consequence of...

    10/01/2015 - 06:00 History of Science
  • Frame of Mind

    Calling neuroscience pointless misses the point

    Despite the adage, there actually is such a thing as bad publicity, a fact that brain scientists have lately discovered. A couple of high-profile opinion pieces in the New York Times have questioned the usefulness of neuroscience, claiming, as columnist David Brooks did in June, that studying brain activity will never reveal the mind. Or that neuroscience is a pesky distraction from solving...

    08/26/2013 - 09:26
  • Reviews & Previews

    Book Review: The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement by David Brooks

    In his new book, New York Times columnist Brooks describes human nature as shaped by a search for mates and other relationships, guided by unconscious feelings about oneself and others that develop early in life. Fair enough. That idea has plenty of scientific supporters and dates back more than a century, even if it ignores how conscious deliberations fit into the mix.


    04/08/2011 - 09:48
  • News

    Intel Science Talent Search spotlights America's whiz kids

    Ten of the nation’s most innovative scientists convened in Washington this week to receive their version of Olympic Gold — temporarily putting aside their homework to do so. Erika DeBenedictis, 18, of Albuquerque won first place in the Intel Science Talent Search, a prestigious competition for high school seniors, at a gala held the evening of March 16. DeBenedictis earned a $100,000...
    03/17/2010 - 01:34 Science & Society
  • Reviews & Previews

    Book Review: The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe by Theodore Gray

    A Popular Science columnist has transformed the prosaic periodic table into a drop-dead gorgeous coffee-table book. Each of the first 100 elements gets a stunning spread with a brief bio, including weight, density, uses, emission spectrum and crystal structure, when known. But such details don’t explain why readers will flip through this large-format book. It’s for the pictures. Elements have...

    12/18/2009 - 12:14
  • Reviews & Previews

    Book Review: The Medicine Cabinet of Curiosities by Nicholas Bakalar

    This is a book for people who want to impress others at cocktail parties. Brimming with odd tidbits of knowledge about the human body and health, it provides a wealth of “did you know?” conversation starters.In the book’s introduction, New York Times columnist Bakalar describes Medicine Cabinet as a “random collection, put together with no more direction than that offered by the author’s...

    10/09/2009 - 11:06
  • Reviews & Previews

    Homage to a Pied Puzzler

    A collection of math problems and stories pays tribute to math popularizer and Scientific American columnist Martin Gardner.AK Peters, 2009, 285 p., $49.

    09/11/2009 - 12:09
  • Reviews & Previews

    Book Review: Science Under Siege: Defending Science, Exposing Pseudoscience edited by Kendrick Frazier

    Scientific literacy has taken a hit. Facts are absent or distorted by spin doctors, leaving people to flounder when interpreting complex issues, writers argue in this new collection of essays. Edited by former Science News editor Kendrick Frazier (now editor of Skeptical Inquirer), these engaging, insightful and often surprising essays by researchers and journalists describe what science is...

    08/27/2009 - 15:56
  • Comment

    Debates over definition of planet continue and inspire

    Planetary science is in the midst of a revolution. As recently as the early 1990s, “the planets” consisted of just nine famous objects in our solar system that every school kid learned to recognize by name and appearance. But then, advances in astronomical technology unleashed an explosion of new planetary discoveries on two fronts.

    One of these fronts involved a bewildering variety of...

    11/21/2008 - 13:04 Atom & Cosmos
  • Science & the Public

    Second-Tier Presidential Debates

    Many of us enjoy watching the debates between presidential contenders — or their running mates — in hopes of getting a better picture of their views on the issues that interest us most. Unfortunately, the general debates tend to focus on broad issues where our interests can often be quite narrow. A pair of upcoming debates between presidential advisers promises to offer...

    09/30/2008 - 13:18 Humans & Society