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  • Feature

    Online causes may attract more clicks than commitments

    The Save Darfur Cause on Facebook had all the makings of a slam dunk cyber success. More than a million people joined the social media site’s digital movement a few years ago to save the people of Sudan’s Darfur region from mass slaughter.    

    There was a hitch in Facebook’s humanitarian giddy-up, though: The vast majority of people who enlisted in the Save Darfur Cause recruited no one...

    06/27/2014 - 14:04 Psychology, Networks, Science & Society
  • Feature

    The long and winding Colorado

    Standing on a mesa high above the town of Rifle, Colo., Andres Aslan is having a hard time staying quiet. The lanky geologist from nearby Colorado Mesa University normally speaks in a low-key professorial drone. But here, looking down at a sprawling river valley blazing with autumnal cottonwoods, his enthusiasm cranks up his volume. “This could be it,” says Aslan, gesticulating wildly. “This...

    01/10/2014 - 14:00 Earth, Planetary Science
  • Feature

    The 3-D Printing Revolution

    Joshua Pearce takes unusual satisfaction in strolling through Walmart. The shelves laden with toys, household items, tools and clothing inspire in him a certain smugness, a pride in American entrepreneurship. But it’s not because Pearce admires the chain as an empire built by a self-made man. Pearce swells with pride at Walmart because the store is full of mass-manufactured objects that he...

    02/20/2013 - 23:31 Technology, Computing
  • Feature

    Breaking it Down

    Suppose there was a fourth little pig. This one was a physicist. Unlike his brother the engineer, who built a house out of tried-and-true bricks, the physicist pig chose a building material by doing calculations based on fundamental principles. He settled on a substance made from silicon and oxygen, an abundant material with high bond strength and the aesthetic bonus of transparency. It was...

    01/29/2010 - 14:02
  • Math Trek

    Unknotting knot theory

    Sometimes, a simple, even childish question turns out to be connected to the deepest secrets of the universe. Here’s one: How many different ways can you tie your shoelaces?Mathematicians have been puzzling over that question for a century or two, and the main thing they’ve discovered is that the question is really, really hard. In the last decade, though, they’ve developed some powerful new...

    10/31/2008 - 16:19 Numbers
  • Math Trek

    A Mathemusical Potpourri

    Are you curious about the sound of pi? What sort of tune is the Dow Jones Industrial Average singing today? How does redwood DNA translate into an environmental symphony?

    Music professor Jonathan N. Middleton and a team of students from the mathematics and computer science departments at Eastern Washington University have created a computer program and Web site that allows you to find...

    09/15/2005 - 12:24 Numbers
  • Feature

    Comeback Bird

    During the last week of April, an e-mail zinging through the bird-watcher community spilled the beans on one of the biggest and best-kept secrets in ornithology. It proclaimed that North America's famed ivory-billed woodpecker was not extinct after all, but Terry Rich of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wasn't excited. He had heard that story too many times before. Since the last widely...

    06/06/2005 - 09:54 Animals
  • Feature

    Infrasonic Symphony

    "Let me start off with a riddle," says NASA scientist Allan J. Zuckerwar. In his office in Hampton, Va., he rattles off items as dissimilar as rhinoceroses, supersonic aircraft, and hurricanes. "Now, what do they have in common?" The answer, Zuckerwar explains, is that each one generates silent infrasound—long sound waves at a frequency below 20 hertz. People can't hear anything below that...

    01/03/2004 - 14:55 Earth
  • Feature

    Electronic Jetsam

    Twice each day at more than 1,100 sites around the world, scientists simultaneously loft weather balloons to collect data about Earth's atmosphere. During each balloon's ascent, which lasts a couple of hours or so, instruments garner information about air temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed, and wind direction. Meteorologists feed all of these data into their computer...

    01/27/2003 - 13:58 Earth
  • Feature

    Earth Science

    04/24/1993 - 00:00