Vol. 179 No. #3

More Stories from the January 29, 2011 issue

  1. Chemistry

    Twisted rules of chemistry explained

    A theorist uses quantum mechanics to explain why Möbius molecules have different numbers of electrons than standard rings.

    By
  2. Space

    Space rock surprise

    Meteorite analysis suggests it may be possible to make amino acids in the absence of water, boosting the chances of finding life elsewhere in the universe.

    By
  3. Humans

    Periodic table gets some flex

    IUPAC committee replaces fuzzy atomic weights with more accurate ranges

    By
  4. Health & Medicine

    Childhood epilepsy that lasts into adulthood triples mortality

    The added risk occurs in patients whose seizures persist, a 40-year study in Finland shows.

    By
  5. Life

    Robins reject red glowing grub

    Parasitic worms induce a color change in their caterpillar victims that's literally repulsive to predators.

    By
  6. Health & Medicine

    How the brain shops

    Using implanted electrodes, researchers find individual neurons associated with attaching value to objects.

    By
  7. Health & Medicine

    Second chicken pox shot boosts coverage

    Giving a follow-up vaccination increases coverage to more than 98 percent of kids who receive it, a study finds.

    By
  8. Paleontology

    Oceans may have poisoned early animals

    High sulfur and low oxygen produced a deadly brew nearly 500 million years ago that apparently stalled a burst of evolutionary change.

    By
  9. Chemistry

    Building big molecules bottom-up

    Using templates, chemists make ring structures on the scale of biological machinery.

    By
  10. Paleontology

    An ammonite’s last supper

    A detailed X-ray image of a fossil reveals an ancient marine creature’s diet.

    By
  11. Health & Medicine

    Possible relief for irritable bowel

    Those taking an antibiotic whose effects are localized to the intestines fared better than patients getting a placebo pill, two trials find.

    By
  12. Life

    Spider sex play has its pluses

    In the tricky world of arachnid mating, messing around with not-quite-mature females yields later benefits.

    By
  13. Space

    Superhot solar mystery may be solved

    Jets of hot gas heat the sun’s nebulous outer atmosphere to millions of degrees, well above the temperature on the surface, a new study suggests.

    By
  14. Psychology

    Lonely teardrops

    Women’s tears appear to contain an odorless substance that, when sniffed, lowers men’s sexual arousal.

    By
  15. Science & Society

    Methane from BP spill goes missing

    Latest sampling suggests either that microbes have already devoured the most abundant hydrocarbon produced by the leak — or that researchers have simply lost track of it.

    By
  16. Life

    Aspens bust, diseased mice boom

    As trees decline, populations of rodents that carry the deadly sin nombre virus are on the rise.

    By
  17. Humans

    Ancient farmers swiftly spread westward

    A sudden influx of Neolithic farmers in southern Europe led to agricultural practices still in play today.

    By
  18. Science Past from the issue of January 28, 1961

    SEE ATOMIC WASTE USE IN SALT WATER CONVERSION — Radioactive waste products from atomic plants may soon be a source of energy for converting salt water to fresh water. This use could help solve the problem of disposing of highly radioactive material, and also help combat the growing water shortage in the United States…. The […]

    By
  19. Mysteries of the Komodo Dragon: The Biggest, Deadliest Lizard Gives Up Its Secrets by Marty Crump

    For kids 9 to 11 who like all the gory details, this children’s book doesn’t shy away from showing dragons at their fiercest. MYSTERIES OF THE KOMODO DRAGON: THE BIGGEST, DEADLIEST LIZARD GIVES UP ITS SECRETS BY MARTY CRUMP Boyds Mills Press, 2010, 40 p., $18.95.

    By
  20. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Sherry Turkle

    A psychologist explores the ramifications of constant online connectivity for real-world human connections. MYSTERIES OF THE KOMODO DRAGON: THE BIGGEST, DEADLIEST LIZARD GIVES UP ITS SECRETS BY MARTY CRUMP Basic Books, 2011, 360 p., $28.95.

    By
  21. Discoveries of the Census of Marine Life: Making Ocean Life Count by Paul V.R. Snelgrove

    Stunning photographs illustrate this compendium of new scientific knowledge gleaned from the largest-ever cataloging of ocean life. DISCOVERIES OF THE CENSUS OF MARINE LIFE: MAKING OCEAN LIFE COUNT BY PAUL V.R. SNELGROVE Cambridge Univ. Press, 2011, 270 p., $45.

    By
  22. Chasing the Sun: The Epic Story of the Star That Gives Us Life by Richard Cohen

    Traveling to nearly 20 countries, the author traces efforts to understand Earth’s nearest star, from ancient Egyptian sun myths to a modern-day Antarctic observatory. CHASING THE SUN: THE EPIC STORY OF THE STAR THAT GIVES US LIFE BY RICHARD COHEN Random House, 2010, 574 p., $35.

    By
  23. Neuroscience

    The Tell-Tale Brain

    By
  24. Book Review: Massive: The Missing Particle That Sparked the Greatest Hunt in Science by Ian Sample

    The only thing more elusive than the Higgs boson, the so-called “God particle” that physicists built a $10 billion device to capture, is Peter Higgs himself. MASSIVE: THE MISSING PARTICLE THAT SPARKED THE GREATEST HUNT IN SCIENCE BY IAN SAMPLE The Scottish physicist first imagined 47 years ago that a new particle was needed to […]

    By
  25. Neuroscience exposes pernicious effects of poverty

    At the 2010 Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego, a group of scientists held a session on how poverty changes the brain. Neuroscientist Helen Neville of the University of Oregon in Eugene joined the discussion and described some of her group’s studies on the brains of 3- to 5-year-old children who grow up poor. […]

    By
  26. Meet the Growbots

    Boldly going where most computer scientists fear to tread, Rajesh Rao watches intently as 1-year-olds lock eyes with their mothers in a developmental psychology lab at the University of Washington in Seattle. Time after time, tiny upturned heads tilt in whatever direction the caretakers look. Naturally, Rao thinks of robots. The Japanese-built robot is learning […]

    By
  27. Making Nuanced Memories

    Mice aren’t known for their skill with complicated memory tricks, but they can usually recall their last meal. Once they happen upon food in a laboratory maze, they are pretty good at remembering the location from one trial to the next. In one recent study, though, half the mice got too confused to find their […]

    By
  28. Worming Your Way to Better Health

    Back in the bad old Stone Age, humans had to put up with all sorts of creepy crawlies. Parasites ran amok in people’s innards, freeloading on nutrient supplies. The parasites took a toll, but over the millennia, those that killed off their meal ticket too quickly didn’t make it. The survivors of this evolutionary shakeout […]

    By
  29. Letters

    Prescient Editor in Chief? I got behind on magazine reading over the summer; now that colder weather is here I’m catching up, randomly. I read the Nov. 6 issue one day, with the Life article on microbes that walk on their pili (“Sure, but can they chew gum too?” SN: 11/6/10, p. 8); the next […]

    By
  30. Science Future for January 29, 2011

    February 11 – 13 Explore geology at the 60th Annual Agate and Mineral Show at Portland, Oregon’s science museum. See www.omsi.edu February 13 Boston’s Museum of Science officially reopens its planetarium with a show about exoplanets. Go to www.mos.org February 14 Savor a “miracle fruit” berry that deceives taste buds, in a butterfly rain forest […]

    By
  31. Hidden Harmonies: The Lives and Times of the Pythagorean Theorem by Robert and Ellen Kaplan

    Inspired by their Harvard-based math program, two educators delve into the history and uses of the Pythagorean theorem. HIDDEN HARMONIES: THE LIVES AND TIMES OF THE PYTHAGOREAN THEOREM BY ROBERT AND ELLEN KAPLAN Bloomsbury Press, 2011, 304 p., $25.

    By