Vol. 180 No. #9

More Stories from the October 22, 2011 issue

  1. Chemistry

    If that’s a TV, this must be the den

    In some situations, the brain identifies a location based on a checklist of objects.

  2. Chemistry

    Explosive goes boom, but not too soon

    Leavening a volatile new material with good old TNT yields a substance that’s safer to handle and easily reverted into a highly potent form.

  3. Life

    In the dark, cave fish follows its own rhythm

    Scientists unwind an odd biological clock to better understand how organisms set daily cycles.

  4. Humans

    Fossil finds offer close look at a contested ancestor

    Nearly 2 million-year-old fossils offer glimpses of a species that may, or may not, have been crucial for human evolution.

  5. Life

    Thirsty frogs make do with dew

    An Australian species exploits condensation to get a drink by chilling down outside and then hopping into its warm, humid lair.

  6. Life

    Cats engineered for disease resistance

    Genetically modified felines created in an effort to fight feline immunodeficiency virus.

  7. Earth

    Nature’s crystal palace

    Slow-growing crystals formed over thousands of years in Mexico cave.

  8. Space

    Planet search finds lots of little guys

    The latest collection of extrasolar bodies to be revealed is rich in worlds not much bigger than Earth.

  9. Psychology

    Same face, different person

    Photos of a stranger’s mug can look like many unfamiliar people to an observer, complicating facial recognition research.

  10. Earth

    Pacific volcanoes share split personality

    The dual chemistry of island chains reflects variations in the distribution of ancient material bubbling up from deep within the Earth.

  11. Health & Medicine

    Brain may sabotage efforts to lose weight

    The brains of obese people act hungry whether their bodies are or not.

  12. Chemistry

    Science gets the deets on DEET

    New research demonstrates how insect repellent may mix up mosquitoes’ smelling machinery.

  13. Life

    Genes & Cells

    How nanotubes trigger a cell’s gag reflex, the skulking 1918 flu and more in this week’s news.

  14. Life

    XMRV tie to chronic fatigue debunked

    A virus that was tied to the mysterious syndrome by 2009 research appears to have been a laboratory contaminant.

  15. Physics

    Neutrinos seen to fly faster than light

    Though few physicists expect it to withstand scrutiny, confirmation of the observation would shake physics to its core.

  16. Life

    2011 medicine Nobel goes to immunology researchers

    The prize in physiology or medicine recognizes scientists for their work on the body's innate and adaptive defenses against invading pathogens.

  17. Space

    Cosmic acceleration discovery wins physics Nobel

    Three astrophysicists are honored for revealing the universe's accelerating expansion.

  18. Humans

    Surf zone study earns young scientist first place

    Top winners selected from 30 finalists who traveled to Washington, D.C., to compete in the inaugural Broadcom MASTERS program for middle school students.

  19. Chemistry

    Unusual crystal patterns win chemistry Nobel

    First rejected as impossible, the discovery that atoms can pack in subtly varied patterns forced revisions of fundamental concepts.

  20. SN Online

    BODY & BRAIN ‘Normal’ B12 levels may not be enough for the brain. Read “B12 shortage linked to cognitive problems.” LIFE A penguin can find its kin even in a sea of black and white. See “Penguins may sniff out relatives.” ATOM & COSMOS A NASA probe has found bizarre landforms on the planet nearest […]

  21. Science Future for October 22, 2011

    October 31 Last day for artists to apply for a residency at the CERN particle physics lab near Geneva. Learn more at www.aec.at/prix/collide/ November 4 Chicago’s Field Museum opens its “Restoring Earth” exhibit. See www.fieldmuseum.org November 6 The National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., explores MIT labs as hot spots of invention. See […]

  22. Science Past from the issue of October 21, 1961

    ‘ALARM CLOCK’ BRINGS SNAKES TO SURFACE — A built-in “alarm clock” apparently helps a brightly-banded little desert snake come to the surface at night after he has buried himself to escape the day’s heat…. It had been noted that these snakes, which remain buried in the sand most of the time, appear to come to […]

  23. Disease Maps: Epidemics on the Ground by Tom Koch

    This unconventional history charts the rise of epidemiology by examining how maps have been used to follow the spread of disease. Univ. of Chicago Press, 2011, 330 p., $45

  24. The Dolphin in the Mirror: Exploring Dolphin Minds and Saving Dolphin Lives by Diana Reiss

    A dolphin researcher describes studies of the animals’ intelligence and makes a case for their protection. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011, 276 p., $27

  25. The Prince of Evolution: Peter Kropotkin’s Adventures in Science and Politics by Lee Alan Dugatkin

    A biologist tells the tale of Peter Kropotkin, a Russian prince whose adventures and studies of evolution and society made him an international celebrity. CreateSpace, 2011, 121 p., $12.99

  26. Cosmic Numbers: The Numbers That Define Our Universe by James D. Stein

    The stories behind numbers — their discoveries and relationships to one another — come to life in this tale of universal constants. Basic Books, 2011, 228 p., $25.99

  27. BOOK REVIEW: Empire of the Beetle: How Human Folly and a Tiny Bug Are Killing North America’s Great Forests (David Suzuki Foundation Series) by Andrew Nikiforuk

    It’s amazing that a small sackful of bark beetles, each no larger than a grain of rice, can in a matter of days kill a tree more than a century old. Yet maybe it’s not surprising, considering that these voracious pests descend upon forests in swarms that can easily weigh more than a pod of […]

  28. BOOK REVIEW: A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos by Dava Sobel

    Daring to defy a centuries-old belief, Polish cleric and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus spun the Earth on its axis and cast it as just one of several planets shuffling around the sun. Published in 1543, Copernicus’ tome On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres earned a spot on the church’s list of prohibited books in 1616, […]

  29. Astronomy

    A Shadowed Past

    Suspended in the sky, the moon has stared unblinking at the Earth for billions of years. But new work suggests the placid sphere’s two faces may belie a violent childhood — one that involved the death of a small celestial companion. The moon may also be lying about when it was born, by millions of […]

  30. Physics

    The Ultimate Clock

    Time is an ancient and contrary mystery. Augustine of Hippo, writing his Confessions in a North African monastery, asked “Who can even in thought comprehend it, so as to utter a word about it? But what in discourse do we mention more familiarly and knowingly, than time?” In what’s called an “optical lattice clock,” thousands […]

  31. Health & Medicine

    Reviving A Tired Heart

    A generation ago, the battle to survive a heart attack was usually won or lost in the emergency room. Medical advances have now enabled more patients to win that fight and go home from the hospital — but millions of them will face another threat in the years to come. 1. Muscle from bone A […]

  32. Letters

    Lumpy lunar illusion Are you folks aware of a phenomenon based on the universal expectation that objects are illuminated by light coming from above? Several startling optical illusions are based on this quirk of the mind. For example, the sharp moon map in “Orbiter delivers sharp moon map” (SN: 7/30/11, p. 12) makes the moon […]

  33. Mathematicians think of everything as rubber

    How the rubbery world of topology may help describe the universe.

  34. Becoming Dr. Q: My Journey from Migrant Farm Worker to Brain Surgeon by Alfredo Qui±ones-Hinojosa with Mim Eichler Rivas

    An autobiography charts one man’s voyage from migrant worker to brain surgeon. Univ. of California Press, 2011, 317 p., $27.50