Vol. 185 No. 12
Download PDF Modal Example Archive Issues Modal Example

Reviews & Previews

Science Visualized


A new twist on a twist

Nature abounds with perfect helices. They show up in animal horns and seashells, in DNA and the young tendrils of plants. But helix formation can get complicated: In some cases, the direction of rotation can reverse as a helix grows.



More Stories from the June 14, 2014 issue

  1. Astronomy

    Exoplanet spin measured for first time

    Astronomers measure the spin of a planet outside our solar system, and its days are short: just over eight hours.

  2. Genetics

    Organism with artificial DNA alphabet makes its debut

    Using DNA molecules other than A, C, G and T, scientists have created the first living organism with an expanded genetic alphabet.

  3. Animals

    Everyday electronics may upset birds’ compass

    Weak electromagnetic waves, coming from normal university activities, interfere with European robins’ migratory orientation.

  4. Psychology

    Farming practices have shaped thinking styles

    The different levels of cooperation required to grow rice and wheat have sown psychological differences within China and possibly between East Asia and the West.

  5. Neuroscience

    Birth of new brain cells might erase babies’ memories

    The growth of new neurons in early childhood may explain why adults can’t remember being infants.

  6. Astronomy

    Milky Way’s magnetic field mapped

    The Planck telescope sees the galaxy’s magnetic field in polarized light bouncing off interstellar dust grains.

  7. Climate

    Antarctic glacier melt is unstoppable

    The inevitable collapse of Antarctic’s western glaciers could raise global sea level by more than 4 meters in coming centuries.

  8. Quantum Physics

    Next-gen quantum teleportation in just 2 photons

    Researchers teleport quantum information between two photons instead of the standard three.

  9. Neuroscience

    Playing football linked to brain changes

    Division I college football players have smaller hippocampi, especially if they’ve had concussions.

  10. Earth

    Tiny earthquakes may follow groundwater loss

    Draining California’s aquifers may stress San Andreas Fault, triggering earthquakes and forcing mountains to rise.

  11. Astronomy

    Milky Way’s far side reveals some secrets

    Variable stars provide first direct measurements of distance to the far side of the Milky Way.

  12. Anthropology

    Teen’s skeleton ties New World settlers to Native Americans

    Underwater cave discovery in Mexico shows genetic range of New World’s ancient Asian colonists.

  13. Materials Science

    Recyclable superplastics made with old chemistry

    A new durable plastic and a self-healing gel are the first high-performance polymers that are easily recycled.

  14. Particle Physics

    Proposed experiment would create matter from light

    Photon collider would convert light into electrons and positrons.

  15. Animals

    Lizards may scale back head bobbing to avoid predators

    Brown anoles may scale back mating signals to avoid being eaten.

  16. Climate

    Environmental change may spur growth of ‘rock snot’

    A controversial new theory suggests alga that forms rock snot isn’t an invader, but a low-key species native to many rivers.

  17. Science & Society

    Cancer research scores big at Intel ISEF

    An innovative statistical analysis of cancer-promoting genes earned a 15-year-old the top prize — and $75,000 — at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2014.

  18. Astronomy

    Young, hot exoplanet takes title for longest year

    Newly discovered exoplanet sits a whopping 2,000 times farther from its star than Earth does from the sun.

  19. Science & Society

    Outgoing congressman Rush Holt calls scientists to action

    The New Jersey physicist has decided not to run for re-election but is a proponent of scientists in office.

  20. Animals

    Indian frogs kick up their heels

    Some new species impress a potential mate with a dance.

  21. Animals


    Tiny footlike protrusions that enable a cell to invade neighboring tissues.

  22. Science & Society

    To do: Summer science exhibits across the country

    Here's a roundup of museum exhibits to explore in the United States.

  23. Planetary Science

    Do-it-yourself solar system

    If you've always wanted to build your own solar system, roll up your sleeves — SuperPlanetCrash is an online solar system simulator, set up as a game.

  24. Quantum Physics

    The least physics you need is a lot in ‘Quantum Mechanics’

    Leonard Susskind and Art Friedman walk readers through the basics needed to understand the quantum realm.