Vol. 178 No. #11

More Stories from the November 20, 2010 issue

  1. Physics

    Holy moley

    Adding more decimal places to Avogadro constant could produce a better definition of the kilogram.

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  2. Life

    Gene therapy for depression

    Researchers were able to reduce pathological behaviors in mice by delivering genetic material to a particular brain region.

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  3. Math

    Marathoning made easy

    Or at least endurable, by calculating and then keeping to a physiologically sustainable pace.

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  4. Physics

    Sailing toward the island of stability

    The creation of six new superheavy isotopes has encouraged researchers who hope to find long-lived elements of even greater mass.

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  5. Health & Medicine

    Anticancer protein might combat HIV

    The tumor suppressor p21 shows up in abundance in some people who are impervious to developing AIDS despite being infected, a study shows.

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  6. Health & Medicine

    Pet frogs can transmit salmonella

    A CDC investigation adds a common aquarium species to the list of amphibians that can carry and spread bacteria.

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  7. Chemistry

    Breathe better with bitter

    Taste receptors in the lungs open airways in response to acrid gases.

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  8. Tech

    Robots can use coffee as a picker-upper

    A gripper made of a bag of loose grains has advantages over grasping devices that use individual digits.

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  9. Humans

    Weighing risks, convicts display blind spots

    Prisoners often don’t appreciate likely gains or losses in making decisions, a finding with possible policy implications.

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  10. Health & Medicine

    Pancreatic cancer years in the making

    A decade elapses from the first cancer-related mutation to tumor formation, and several more years pass until the disease spreads to other organs, a new study finds. The work raises the possibility that a usually deadly malignancy can be treated before it’s too late.

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  11. Life

    1000 Genomes pilot a hit with geneticists

    The first stage of a project to probe human genetic diversity has found millions of new variations.

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  12. Health & Medicine

    The fingers don’t lie

    The brain has at least two copy editors, typing experiments show.

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  13. Humans

    Deep African roots for toolmaking method

    A method for trimming stone-tool edges appeared 75,000 years ago in southern Africa, archaeologists contend, long before previous evidence of the practice.

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  14. Space

    Revealing the galaxy’s dark side

    Observations of the Milky Way’s center detect gamma rays characteristic of the universe’s missing mass.

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  15. Tech

    Trading places

    As the pace of financial transactions accelerates, researchers look forward to a time when the only limiting factor is the speed of light.

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  16. Earth

    Arctic lake yields climate record

    A Siberian drilling project goes to great lengths to capture an ancient climate record in a 3.6 million-year-old crater.

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  17. Planetary Science

    New rock type found on moon

    Odd spots on the lunar farside could be ancient material that originated deep inside the moon.

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  18. Earth

    Fossil fangs not so fierce

    Anomalocaris, that fearsome predator of ancient seas, may have to return its title. A new analysis suggests that the monstrous shrimplike creature, which lived more than 500 million years ago, couldn’t handle crunchy food. Researchers modeled the stresses that Anomalocaris jaws would have undergone while feeding on snacks as hard as lobster tails. The team […]

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  19. Science Future for November 20, 2010

    November 20 New York’s American Museum of Natural History opens its interactive brain exhibit. Go to www.amnh.org/exhibitions/brain December 2 San Francisco’s Exploratorium considers sugar, from its bodily functions to art. With cocktails. See www.exploratorium.edu December 2–3 Howard Hughes Medical Institute airs live classroom webcasts on infectious diseases. See www.holidaylectures.org

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  20. Virtual Words by Jonathon Keats

    Twenty-eight essays trace the births and lives (sometimes short) of blog, qubit and other science- and technology-inspired words. VIRTUAL WORDS BY JONATHON KEATS Oxford Univ., 2010, 177 p., $19.95.

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  21. Atlas of Science by Katy Börner

    A large-format book highlights attractive and informative illustrations of a variety of science topics, and creators of the images describe how they were made. ATLAS OF SCIENCE BY KATY BöRNER MIT, 2010, 254 p., $29.95.

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  22. Super Species by Garry Hamilton

    In this cautionary tale, a journalist profiles 20 of the invasive organisms that may one day dominate the planet. SUPER SPECIES BY GARRY HAMILTON Firefly, 2010, 271 p., $35.

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  23. The Field Guide to Natural Phenomena by Keith Heidorn and Ian Whitelaw

    An illustrated tour of everyday events and amazing spectacles, from mirages and meteors to ball lightning. THE FIELD GUIDE TO NATURAL PHENOMENA BY KEITH HEIDORN AND IAN WHITELAW Firefly, 2010, 223 p., $24.95.

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  24. Absolutely Small: How Quantum Theory Explains Our Everyday World by Michael D. Fayer

    In clear and mostly math-free language, a chemist describes quantum theory in everyday life, relating such tidbits as why blueberries are blue and how a photon can be in two places at once. ABSOLUTELY SMALL: HOW QUANTUM THEORY EXPLAINS OUR EVERYDAY WORLD BY MICHAEL D. FAYER AMACOM, 2010, 383 p., $24.

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  25. Present at the Creation: The Story of CERN and the Large Hadron Collider by Amir D. Aczel

    The story of the Large Hadron Collider — the biggest and most powerful machine ever built — is told in part from its control room, where scientists are working to re-create the moments immediately after the Big Bang. PRESENT AT THE CREATION: THE STORY OF CERN AND THE LARGE HADRON COLLIDER BY AMIR D. ACZEL […]

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  26. ThermoPoetics: Energy in Victorian Literature and Science by Barri J. Gold

    For the literary-minded physics aficionado, this book examines literature’s role in shaping and wrestling with emerging ideas of energy and thermodynamics in the Victorian age. THERMOPOETICS: ENERGY IN VICTORIAN LITERATURE AND SCIENCE BY BARRI J. GOLD MIT, 2010, 343 p., $30.

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  27. The Instant Physicist: An Illustrated Guide by Richard A. Muller

    In this collection of physics-related curiosities, every page flip reveals a basic principle of physics and a humorous cartoon by Joey Manfre. Examples include why wine is radioactive and how much plutonium it takes to build a bomb (enough to fill a coffee mug). THE INSTANT PHYSICIST: AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE BY RICHARD A. MULLER W.W. […]

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  28. The Shape of Inner Space: String Theory and the Geometry of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions by Shing-Tung Yau and Steve Nadis

    Taking another angle on the string theory genre, a Harvard mathematician and a science writer join up to explore the geometry of curled-up universes too small to see. THE SHAPE OF INNER SPACE: STRING THEORY AND THE GEOMETRY OF THE UNIVERSE’S HIDDEN DIMENSIONS BY SHING-TUNG YAU AND STEVE NADIS Basic Books, 2010, 377 p., $30.

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  29. Physics of the Human Body by Richard P. McCall

    Looking at the body as a physics laboratory lends a fresh perspective, from how the properties of light affect eyesight to the fluid dynamics of the circulatory system. A good resource for doctors or the general reader. PHYSICS OF THE HUMAN BODY BY RICHARD P. MCCALL Johns Hopkins Univ., 2010, 301 p., $45.

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  30. Book Review: The Mind’s Eye by Oliver Sacks

    True story: A novelist gets up one morning and snatches the newspaper off his doorstep only to find the words appear to be written in some unintelligible script, perhaps Cyrillic. He suspects a practical joke but soon realizes he has lost the ability to read. The novelist finds he can still write, but can’t proofread […]

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  31. Book Review: Eels: An Exploration, from New Zealand to the Sargasso, of the World’s Most Mysterious Fish by James Prosek

    What many people in the West view as vile, slimy creatures are, according to Prosek, the world’s most mysterious fish. (Yes, despite often being mistaken for snakes, eels are fish.) They can live for a century, they spend most of their lives in fresh water but must return to sea to spawn, and they can […]

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  32. Book Review: The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III: Multiple Universes, Mutual Assured Destruction, and the Meltdown of a Nuclear Family by Peter Byrne

    In histories of quantum physics, Hugh Everett III’s name appears frequently, but without much about the life of the man behind the name. He did not pursue a career in academic physics, opting instead to work as an analyst for secret military projects, and he died young, in 1982 at age 51. THE MANY WORLDS […]

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  33. A skeptic of quantum theory explains his misgivings

    In a 1905 paper, Albert Einstein proposed that light could travel in the form of particles later called photons. It was one of the pioneering papers in the research that led to quantum mechanics, the mathematical framework for describing matter and energy on a fundamental level. But in his later years, Einstein expressed grave dissatisfaction […]

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  34. Quantum weirdness

    Quantum weirdness Some key concepts in quantum mechanics lead to rather startling results. In the quantum world, objects can be in two states at once and the outcomes of experiments can change depending on when, how and how often scientists make their measurements. Double-slit experiment An electron can be either a wave or a particle […]

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  35. 75 years of entanglement

    Though it has been confirmed numerous times since 1935, entanglement is as spooky as ever. 1935: Physicists Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen publish a paper in Physical Review asking “Can quantum-mechanical description of physical reality be considered complete?” Their answer: no. The same year, in the journal Naturwissenschaften, Erwin Schrödinger coins the term […]

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  36. Past SN Quantum coverage

    The Light Game. The Science News-Letter. May 12, 1928, p. 294. “Ray O. Light” summarizes the particle-wave dispute over the nature of reality as if it were a football game. “Uncertainty Principle” Enters Science. The Science News-Letter. April 27, 1929, p. 257. An introduction to Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. Einstein Finds Past Events Not Knowable […]

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  37. Quantum Physics

    Clash of the Quantum Titans

    After decades of debate, disputes over the mathematical rules governing reality remain unresolved.

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  38. Quantum Physics

    Everyday Entanglement

    Physicists are taking quantum weirdness out of the lab.

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  39. Quantum Physics

    Like fate of cat, quantum debate is still unresolved

    Entanglement is now one of the hottest research fields in physics. It is pursued not only for insights into the nature of reality, but also for developing new technologies.

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  40. Science Past from the issue of November 19, 1960

    MERCURY CAPSULE FAILS — Failure of the test shot of the Mercury space capsule and its pilot escape system will not “necessarily” delay putting a man in space, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration reported. NASA has scheduled a manned rocket launch for 1961. The Mercury spacecraft, designed to take an astronaut safely into outer […]

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  41. The Price of Altruism by Oren Harman

    A biography of George Price follows the eccentric and reclusive scientist in his quest to explain altruism in a Darwinian world. THE PRICE OF ALTRUISM BY OREN HARMAN W.W. Norton & Co., 2010, 451 p., $27.95.

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