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  • Joaquín Rodríguez-López
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  • Feature

    Joaquín Rodríguez-López designs batteries for a sustainable energy future

    Joaquín Rodríguez-López, 35ElectrochemistryUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Joaquín Rodríguez-López was jolted into the world of electrochemistry. When he realized in college that he could hook up a machine to some wires and transform chemicals into energy, he was “completely sold,” he says.

    Today, he’s tackling one big obstacle to expanding affordable renewable energy on...

    09/26/2018 - 08:29 Chemistry
  • Feature

    Why won’t this debate about an ancient cold snap die?

    Around 13,000 years ago, Earth was emerging from its last great ice age. The vast frozen sheets that had covered much of North America, Europe and Asia for thousands of years were retreating. Giant mammals — steppe bison, woolly mammoths and saber-toothed cats — grazed or hunted across tundra and grasslands. A Paleo-Indian group of hunter-gatherers who eventually gave rise to the Clovis people...

    06/26/2018 - 14:00 Climate, Earth, Paleontology
  • Reviews & Previews

    Physics greats of the 20th century mixed science and public service

    The 20th century will go down in history — it pretty much already has — as the century of the physicist. Physicists’ revolutionizing of the scientific world view with relativity and quantum mechanics might have been enough to warrant that conclusion. Future historians may emphasize even more, though, the role of physicists in war and government. Two such physicists, one born at the century’s...

    02/23/2017 - 06:00 History of Science, Science & Society, Physics
  • Museums

    Sea life stars in museum’s glass menagerie

    From 1863 to 1890, Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka made more than 10,000 sea creatures out of glass. There were anemones with tapered tentacles and pearled undersides, translucent jellyfish trailing the most delicate threads and feather stars more than worthy of their name despite their rigid composition. The intricate invertebrates, crafted by the father-son team at their studio in Dresden,...

    08/07/2016 - 08:00 History of Science, Animals, Oceans
  • Feature

    Will we know extraterrestrial life when we see it?

    View the video

    In a 1967 episode of Star Trek, Captain Kirk and crew investigated the mysterious murders of miners on the planet Janus VI. The killer, it turned out, was a rock monster called the Horta. But the Enterprise’s sensors hadn’t registered any signs of life in the creature. The Horta was a silicon-based life-form, rather than carbon-based like living things on Earth.


    04/18/2016 - 12:00 Astrobiology, Cells, Microbiology
  • Feature

    Wanted: Crime-solving bacteria and body odor

    Forensic biologist Silvana Tridico was puzzled by pubic hair.

    Specifically, pubic hair samples donated by two volunteers.

    She had just finished analyzing the bacteria stuck to the hair of seven people. If each hair sample carried unique mixes of bacteria, Tridico reasoned, investigators might have a new tool to help identify crime suspects. Hair bacteria, like fingerprints, could...

    08/26/2015 - 14:32 Chemistry, Microbiology, Technology
  • Wild Things

    Fish-eating spiders are the stuff of nightmares

    The little spiders I find hiding in the corners of a room or hanging out among the plants outside my front door are usually fascinating little creatures — and nothing to be frightened of. Those spiders are usually insectivores and not interested in anything with a backbone, let alone a full-grown human.

    But insect eaters aren’t the only kinds of spiders out in the wild. There’s a whole...

    06/20/2014 - 15:04 Animals
  • News

    Home births more risky than hospital deliveries

    The risks attached to giving birth in the home, even with a midwife present, are greater than in the hospital, an analysis of U.S. birth records suggests. Babies born at home are 10 times more likely to lack a pulse and be unresponsive when they are five minutes old.

    Despite the increase, the overall risk of such a dire condition was low regardless of birth location, researchers report...

    09/20/2013 - 12:30 Biomedicine, Science & Society
  • People

    Baseball’s resident physicist

    Picture sitting at a baseball park, leisurely watching a game. Your mind wanders, torn between a box of Cracker Jack and the conversation drifting down from the row behind you. Suddenly the crack of a bat snaps you to attention, and you scan the field for the ball. Physicist Alan Nathan would say your attention is piqued because well-hit balls make a different noise than weak pop-ups do.

    03/07/2013 - 13:31 Humans & Society
  • News

    Bat-killing fungus is a European import

    The same fungal species wiping out hibernating American bats also strikes their European kin — although it doesn’t kill them. But that’s not because the European strain of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome is less virulent, a new study finds.

    “The European version is even nastier than the North American one,” says Craig Willis, a wildlife biologist at the...

    04/09/2012 - 17:45 Life & Evolution, Earth & Environment