Vol. 179 No. #10

More Stories from the May 7, 2011 issue

  1. Humans

    Brain’s mirror system loves the robot

    Experiments that shed light on how the "monkey see, monkey do" part works may suggest why we feel sad for Wall-E.

  2. Health & Medicine

    Breast milk may harbor cancer clues

    Analysis could provide a noninvasive means for testing risk in women, an early-stage study shows.

  3. Health & Medicine

    Beer, bugs, DNA linked to stomach cancer

    Guzzlers who have a particular genetic variant and an unnoticed bacterial infection are at high risk, a European study finds.

  4. Psychology

    Shocking experiment shows talk is cheap

    Though most people swear they'd never hurt anybody for money, most are also quick to shock a new acquaintance for a few quid when actually given the chance, a British study finds.

  5. Math

    Cells take on traveling salesman problem

    With neither minds nor maps- chemical-sensing immune players do well with decades-old mathematical problem, a computer simulation reveals.

  6. Physics

    Screwy symmetry revealed

    Math trick that reverses spirals and other shapes that twist and turn should provide new ways to understand and design materials.

  7. Life

    Penguin declines may come down to krill

    Lack of food appears to be hurting birds on the Antarctic Peninsula.

  8. Chemistry

    Plants and predators pick same poison

    Zygaena caterpillars and their herbaceous hosts independently evolved an identical recipe for cyanide.

  9. Space

    XENON100 fails to find dark matter

    A hundred days of solitude for an experiment designed to rendezvous with the universe's missing mass put new limits on the elusive material's properties.

  10. Life

    Antarctic lake hides bizarre ecosystem

    Bacterial colonies form cones similar to fossilized examples of Earth’s early life.

  11. Life

    New light on moths gone soot-colored

    Researchers trace the mutation that led to the dramatic darkening of an insect's wings during England's industrial revolution to a region rich in genes that control color patterns.

  12. Physics

    How bicycles keep the rubber on the road

    An international collaboration tries to explain the surprising stability of two-wheeled travel.

  13. Physics

    Time travel nixed in metamaterial world

    A desktop universe captures essential properties of the real thing.

  14. Life

    Gone fishing, orangutan-style

    Apes that catch fish in ponds and eat them raise the possibility that ancient hominids did the same.

  15. Earth

    Seismologists rumble over quake clusters

    Japan tremor may be part of a second grouping of great quakes since 1900, some scientists say.

  16. Humans

    Possibly pivotal human ancestor debated

    An ancient species that may have sparked the rise of humankind gets a new appraisal.

  17. Science Future for May 7, 2011

    May 21–22 Shoot off rockets and hear astronomers sing in Raleigh, N.C. Go to naturalsciences.org May 26 Application deadline for the Commerce Department’s i6 Green Challenge for energy entrepreneurs. For info, go to www.eda.gov/i6 June 15–18 Around Boston, cheer on young inventors, tackle design tasks and marvel at cool technologies. See eurekafest2011.org

  18. SN Online

    ATOM & COSMOSReflected heat may explain the strange slowdown of two spacecraft. Read “Pioneer puzzle pinned on thermodynamics.” DELETED SCENES BLOGAfter 30 years, the space shuttle fleet comes to rest. See “NASA picks shuttles’ retirement homes” to find out where. BODY & BRAINFat breakdown by friendly bacteria may lead to unfriendly buildup in the arteries. […]

  19. Bad Science by Linda Zimmermann

    A brief history of science blunders through the ages, including radium cures and phrenology, the reading of head bumps. Eagle Press, 2011, 224 p., $14.95.

  20. Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life beyond Our Solar System by Ray Jayawardhana

    Engaging stories of astronomers and their quest to find Earthlike planets orbiting distant suns, and even signs of life. Princeton Univ. Press, 2011, 255 p., $24.95.           

  21. The Geek Dad’s Guide to Weekend Fun: Cool Hacks, Cutting-Edge Games, and More Awesome Projects for the Whole Family by Ken Denmead

    All the entertainment a geek family could want is packed into this how-to book, from backyard zip lines to homemade robots. Gotham Books, 2011, 227 p., $18.

  22. Success with Science: The Winners’ Guide to High School Research by Shiv Gaglani, ed.

    In this guide to high school research, five Harvard students and past competition winners give tips on project ideas, finding mentors and more. Research Corp. for Science Advancement, 2011, 180 p., $19.95.       

  23. Book Review: The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts by Neal Bascomb

    With seconds on the clock, a nervous high school senior named Kevin lines up the shot. He presses a button, and half a dozen balls fly through the air. The D’Penguineers win; the crowd goes wild. In his latest book, Bascomb makes the case that high school robotics competitions can be every bit as cool […]

  24. Book Review: Science Fair Season: Twelve Kids, a Robot Named Scorch . . . and What It Takes to Win by Judy Dutton

    Ask most teenagers to name a path to fame and fortune, and basketball or Justin Bieber will likely come up. But for a select few, there’s one clear answer: science fair. Millions of dollars in prize money, TV interviews and trips to the White House await today’s winners, and Dutton gives a glimpse behind the […]

  25. Mind the gap: Genetic knowledge and medical power

    Since the completion of the Human Genome Project a decade ago, much excitement has swirled around the possibility that determining a person’s genetic makeup could help doctors personalize the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease. But James P. Evans, a physician and geneticist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says the promises […]

  26. Atomic Anatomy

    Ernest Rutherford grew up in the 19th century. He created the 20th. Ernest Rutherford won a Nobel Prize for research on the nature of radioactivity. Bain collection/Library of Congress MOSTLY EMPTY Rutherford revealed that almost all of an atom’s mass is concentrated in a very small and dense nucleus (orange), shown here roughly 1,000 times […]

  27. Crushing Cancer’s Defenses

    Twirling globs of white blood cells circle a tumor like a Greek army ready to lay siege. These cells are used to winning — they take down baddies such as viruses and bacteria on a daily basis. But cancer cells are not an ordinary enemy. Like Troy, they set up hefty barricades against attack, often […]

  28. Moved by Light

    Welcome to Quantumville. Population: uncertain. Walk down Main Street, lined with blurry cars simultaneously moving and remaining still. See the house with the curtains drawn? The television in the living room is both on and off at the same time. In this neighborhood, everyday objects do seemingly contradictory things. Janel Kiley DAMPING THE WOBBLE | […]

  29. Yawn

    Scratching relieves an itch, sneezing clears out the nose and drinking relieves thirst. And yawning … does something. Joos Mind/Getty Images COOLING YAWN Before a yawn, rats’ brain temperatures rose. Post-yawn, temperatures dropped. Yawning and stretching (and stretching alone) also showed cooling effects. E. Feliciano; Source: M.L. Shoup-Knox et al/Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience 2010 Researchers […]

  30. Letters

    Promising new Alzheimer’s model “Memories can’t wait” (SN: 3/12/11, p. 24) was a well-written analysis of the problems facing those of us working in the field of geriatric psychology. The new research model based on inflammation is very promising. From a cost-benefit standpoint, early diagnosis and preventive treatment of potential Alzheimer’s patients will be essential […]

  31. Science Past from the issue of May 6, 1961

    PATENTS OF THE WEEK — “Inventions for the home of tomorrow” were the theme of several inventions just patented. Two improved methods for rocking the cradle electrically have been invented. The main advantage of the “motor driven cradle” … is that it can be made inexpensively. It also has a timer and an adjustment that […]

  32. Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 by Michio Kaku

    A physicist interviews over 300 scientists and lays out a mostly rosy vision of research advances that he predicts will shape the world by 2100. Doubleday, 2011, 389 p., $28.95.