Vol. 180 No. #12

More Stories from the December 3, 2011 issue

  1. Life

    Gut bacteria linked to MS

    Gut bacteria appear to play a role in initiating multiple sclerosis in mice.

    By
  2. Life

    Cause confirmed in bat scourge

    White-nose syndrome has devastated bat population in eastern North America.

    By
  3. Space

    Chronicles of Lutetia

    The surprising composition and terrain of an asteroid may provide a variety of lessons about the solar system.

    By
  4. Life

    Python’s heart-restoring elixir works in mice

    A chemical brew used by snakes to build cardiac muscle could have medical applications.

    By
  5. Life

    Axing molecular zombies may slow aging

    Killing off dormant cells slows the decline of mice genetically engineered to grow old fast.

    By
  6. Space

    Mars’ history is a fluid situation

    Recent data from two spacecraft suggest the planet was mostly dry and cold, with a wet, warm subsurface.

    By
  7. Psychology

    ‘Gorilla man’ goes unheard

    Paying attention to what others say can make listeners totally unaware of unexpected sounds.

    By
  8. Psychology

    Skateboarders rock physics

    Skateboarding develops intuition about slope speeds unavailable to most people.

    By
  9. Life

    Giant beavers had hidden vocal talents

    With air passageways in its skull like no other animal known, an extinct outsized rodent may have made sound all its own.

    By
  10. Paleontology

    DNA suggests North American mammoth species interbred

    Supposedly separate types may really have been one.

    By
  11. Health & Medicine

    Sleep doesn’t help old folks remember

    Reduced quality of slumber with age erases memory benefits of snoozing.

    By
  12. Health & Medicine

    Exceptional memory linked to bulked-up parts of brain

    People with total recall of their life’s events have enlargement in a region also associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

    By
  13. Health & Medicine

    Highlights from the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting

    Stress and motherhood, tandem MRIs, the memory benefits of resveratrol and more from the organization's meeting November 12-16 in Washington, D.C.

    By
  14. SN Online

    LIFE Schooling fish stay together by focusing on neighbors rather than the group. See “School rules.” Gustavo Hormiga Spiders known for their web architecture can trace their lineage to one crafty ancestor that lived 200 million years ago. See “The origin of orbs.” BODY & BRAIN Scientists have pinpointed what makes hearing nails on a […]

    By
  15. Science Future for December 3, 2011

    December 5 Discuss scientist Ellen Prager’s book Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime in Portland. Go to www.omsi.edu/sciencepubportland December 15 Explore the Maryland Science Center with baby at Infant Wonders. See www.mdsci.org December 17–23 Learn more about trains at the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio. See www.cosi.org

    By
  16. Science Past from the issue of December 2, 1961

    ELECTRONIC COIN TOSSING — An electronic method of tossing coins that determines “heads” or “tails” 200,000 times a second has been devised at the U.S. Navy Electronics Laboratory, San Diego, Calif. The new machine is not a gambling device but is being used to develop automatic signal detection methods for future Navy radar. It promises […]

    By
  17. The First Scientist: Anaximander and His Legacy by Carlo Rovelli

    A physicist introduces Anaximander, who in the sixth century B.C. paved the way for astronomy, physics, geography, meteorology and biology. Westholme Publishing, 2011, 209 p., $24.95

    By
  18. Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms by Eugenia Bone

    A mouthwatering love letter to fungi from a food writer explores mushrooms as culinary delicacies, biofuels, hallu­cinogens and more. Rodale Books, 2011, 384 p., $25.99

    By
  19. Models.Behaving.Badly: Why Confusing Illusion with Reality Can Lead to Disaster, on Wall Street and in Life by Emanuel Derman

    A physicist and Wall Street strategist examines why people rely on models, economic or otherwise — and why that can be a bad idea. Free Press, 2011,231 p., $26

    By
  20. Relics: Travels in Nature’s Time Machine by Piotr Naskrecki

    Explore the world of modern species with ancient lineages in this collection of striking photographs. Univ. of Chicago Press, 2011, 342 p., $45

    By
  21. BOOK REVIEW: Inflight Science: A Guide to the World from Your Airplane Window by Brian Clegg

    Surveys suggest that fear of flying is one of the most common phobias. White-knuckled passengers frantically ask themselves: Why are the wings of the plane flexing? What if someone tries to open a door while we’re in flight? What’s keeping this plane up in the air, anyway? The nerve-calming answers to these questions and many […]

    By
  22. BOOK REVIEW: Global Warming and Political Intimidation by Raymond S. Bradley, and The Inquisition of Climate Science by James Lawrence Powell

    Buy Global Warming and Political Intimidation Buy The Inquisition of Climate Science As research on climate change has gained momentum in the last decade, scientists have increasingly found themselves in the political hot seat. Two new books give a view from inside science at how politics is affecting research. Bradley, a climate scientist, offers a […]

    By
  23. Caterpillars by Marilyn Singer

    A colorful look at cater­pillars — sometimes woolly, sometimes spotted, occasionally sporting fake faces — shows how they transform into delicate, winged insects. EarlyLight Books, 2011, 40 p., $14.95, ages 4–7

    By
  24. Catch the Wind, Harness the Sun: 22 Super-Charged Projects for Kids by Michael J. Caduto

    Do try these at home: Writing with the sun, powering a battery with a bicycle and creating mini-windmills are projects that help kids learn about renewable energy. Storey Publishing, 2011, 223 p., $16.95, ages 8–13

    By
  25. What’s So Hot About Volcanoes (What’s So Cool About Geology) by Wendell A. Duffield

    A volcanologist transports readers to Hawaii, Chile and Japan to show how volcanoes form, why they erupt and how scientists are trying to predict eruptions. Mountain Press, 2011, 89 p., $16, young adult

    By
  26. You Just Can’t Help It!: Your Guide to the Wild and Wacky World of Human Behavior by Jeff Szpirglas

    A teacher gives insight into human behavior by explaining the science behind involuntary reactions such as wrinkling the nose at a disgusting smell or laughing. Maple Tree, 2011, 64 p., $10.95, ages 9–12

    By
  27. Worst-Case Scenario Ultimate Adventure #2: Mars! by Hena Khan and David Borgenicht

    Kids must use their science know-how to navigate a mission to Mars in this choose-your-adventure book, picking up facts about space along the way. Chronicle Books, 2011, 204 p., $12.99, ages 8–12

    By
  28. Eye-Popping 3-D Bugs: Phantogram Bugs You Can Practically Touch! by Barry Rothstein and Betsy Rothstein

    Scientific facts about creepy crawlies boost this book’s real thrill —the phantogram images that make beetles, wasps and spiders pop off the page. Chronicle Books, 2011, 61 p., $19.99, ages 3 and up

    By
  29. Digging for Troy: From Homer to Hisarlik by Jill Rubalcaba and Eric H. Cline

    What starts off as a retelling of the epic tale of the Odyssey turns into a story about archaeologists’ hunt for Homer’s Troy in modern-day Turkey. Charlesbridge, 2011, 71 p., $17.95, ages 9–12

    By
  30. Come See the Earth Turn by Lori Mortensen

    Learn how Léon Foucault, a sickly child and poor student, grew up to design a simple experiment that demonstrated for the first time that the Earth rotates. Random House, 2010, 32 p., $17.99, ages 7–9

    By
  31. Stuff That Scares Your Pants Off!: The Science Scoop on more than 30 Terrifying Phenomena! by Glenn Murphy

    Statistics and scientific facts reassure kids that scary things —whether they be spiders, the dark or aliens — aren’t such a threat after all. Roaring Brook Press, 2011, 192 p., $14.99, ages 8–12

    By
  32. BOOK REVIEW: The Geek Dad Book for Aspiring Mad Scientists: The Coolest Experiments and Projects for Science Fairs and Family Fun by Ken Denmead

    For those desperately seeking science fair ideas, help has arrived. Armed with a sense of humor, this third installment of the Geek Dad series breaks down the scientific process into manageable concepts for aspiring young scientists (and their parents, too). The projects span a range of difficulties, so there’s something for all ages from elementary […]

    By
  33. Plants

    Flirty Plants

    The term “bar fight” does not actually appear in Saila Varis’ recent paper in the journal Trees or in her Ph.D. dissertation on the Scots pine. But she’s a good sport about discussing whether her research suggests that tree pollen grains have their own versions of nose-punching brawls over female favor. Pollen tubes, a plant’s […]

    By
  34. New Takes on Historic Quakes

    In the autumn of 1811, the United States was barely 35 years old. The fledgling nation included only 17 states, all east of the Mississippi River, but it boasted a lot of new territory thanks to the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Neither the buyers nor the sellers knew that the recent addition’s basement contained a […]

    By
  35. Venus Unveiled

    Like many siblings, Venus and Earth bear a familial resemblance. Venus is similar to Earth in size, composition and gravitational pull. But some peculiar quirks, from sulfuric acid clouds to swirling polar vortices, make Venus a twisted sister indeed. Venus Express has mapped heat patterns on the planet’s Idunn Mons peak, depicted here. Red is […]

    By
  36. Letters

    Clocking neutrinos In response to “Hints of a flaw in special relativity” (SN: 10/22/11, p. 18): When supernova 1987a was detected in the Large Magellenic Cloud (a distance of roughly 168,000 light-years) an influx of neutrinos was detected simultaneously (or nearly so) in Japan, the United States and Russia. Had these neutrinos traveled at the […]

    By
  37. Nemesis: Searching for the sun’s deadly companion star

    Read the full article (PDF) | Vote on future topic | Search archives September 1, 1984 | Vol. 126 | No. 9 Nemesis: Searching for the sun’s deadly companion star If the sun is not a member of a binary or multiple star system, it is among the minority of stars. Yet if the sun has a […]

    By
  38. A Strange Wilderness: The Lives of the Great Mathematicians

    Learn about mathematicians from Archimedes to Alexander Grothendieck, who learned math in a Nazi concentration camp. Sterling, 2011, 284 p., $24.95

    By