Vol. 178 No. #8
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More Stories from the October 9, 2010 issue

  1. Chemistry

    Light-harvesting complexes do it themselves

    A new technique could yield solar cells with no repair or assembly required.

  2. Earth

    Not in this toad’s backyard

    Yellow crazy ants meet a hungry obstacle as they spread into cacao plantations.

  3. Astronomy

    Mars organics get new lease on life

    More than three decades after the Viking mission failed to find compounds necessary for carbon-based life, a new analysis suggests they could actually be present at detectable levels in the planet’s soil.

  4. Paleontology

    The hunchback of central Spain

    An exquisitely preserved dinosaur from central Spain has a hump on its back and suggestions of featherlike appendages on its arms. The primitive carnivore lived about 125 million years ago and may push back the first known instance of feathers on the dinosaur family tree.

  5. Health & Medicine

    Defining normal in the brain

    A new growth curve paves way for scans to be used to spot early signs of autism, schizophrenia or other disorders.

  6. Chemistry

    Cockroach brains, coming to a pharmacy near you

    Insect tissue extracts show antibacterial activity in lab experiments.

  7. Space

    Asteroids miss with astronomers

    Close brushes with small objects like the ones that swept past Earth on Wednesday are actually fairly common.

  8. Psychology

    Video mayhem enlivens decision making

    People who play action-oriented video games show improved ability to make quick decisions based on what they see and hear.

  9. Life

    Doing their part by not doing their part

    Freeloaders can be good for a community, yeast experiments suggest.

  10. Life

    Cuckoos thrown off by climate change

    With earlier springs, the birds are duping a different mix of adoptive parents into raising their young.

  11. Life

    Environmental DNA modifications tied to obesity

    Chemical changes that affect gene activity could underlie many common conditions, a new study suggests.

  12. Environment

    Gases dominate Gulf’s subsea plumes

    Shipboard experiments in June show that natural gas dominates the Gulf oil plumes and that its components are the favorite choice of microbes.

  13. Life

    Streetlights turn young duds into studs

    Nocturnal illumination starts youthful male blue tits chirping earlier in the morning, tempting the mates of their still-snoozing elders.

  14. Earth

    Back to the moon’s future

    New crater and composition measurements from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter are helping scientists understand the moon’s history and scout for future landing sites.

  15. Psychology

    Why cell phone talkers are annoys-makers

    Overhearing half of a conversation is so aggravating at least in part because it inordinately distracts a listener from tasks at hand.

  16. Health & Medicine

    Obesity in children linked to common cold virus

    Exposure to adenovirus-36 may partly explain why kids are getting heavier, a new study suggests.

  17. Climate

    Annual Arctic ice minimum reached

    The verdict is in on this year’s Arctic sea-ice melt: third worst since satellites began keeping track of the northern polar cap in 1979. BIG MELT Sea ice on the Arctic Ocean, seen in a NASA simulation of conditions September 3, has reached its annual minimum extent, the third smallest on record. NASA-Goddard Scientific Visualization […]

  18. Science Future for October 9, 2010

    October 10 – 24 First USA Science & Engineering Festival, held in D.C. Go to www.usasciencefestival.org October 15 – 22 Third annual Imagine Science Film Festival celebrated in New York City theaters. See http://imaginesciencefilms.com October 16 New Smithsonian exhibit opens featuring a coral reef made of yarn crocheted into geometric patterns. Go to www.mnh.si.edu/exhibits/hreef

  19. How to Mellify a Corpse by Vicki León

    Eighty-eight tales tell of science and superstition in the ancient world (including Alexander the Great’s mellification, or embalming in honey). HOW TO MELLIFY A CORPSE BY VICKI LEóN Walker, 2010, 308 p., $17.

  20. 2030: Technology That Will Change the World by Rutger van Santen, Djan Khoe and Bram Vermeer

    A survey of science and engineering breakthroughs that may lead to technological leaps. 2030: TECHNOLOGY THAT WILL CHANGE THE WORLD BY RUTGER VAN SANTEN, DJAN KHOE AND BRAM VERMEER OxfordUniv. Press, 2010, 295 p., $29.95.

  21. Spider Silk by Leslie Brunetta and Catherine L. Craig

    Arachnid evolution is woven into this history of one of the strongest natural materials. SPIDER SILK BY LESLIE BRUNETTA AND CATHERINE L. CRAIG Yale Univ. Press, 2010, 229 p., $30.

  22. The 50 Most Extreme Places in Our Solar System by David Baker and Todd Ratcliff

    Tour Earth’s hottest, coldest, stormiest and stinkiest neighbors, plus the solar system’s weirdest phenomena. THE 50 MOST EXTREME PLACES IN OUR SOLAR SYSTEM BY DAVID BAKER AND TODD RATCLIFF Harvard Univ. Press, 2010, 290 p., $27.95.

  23. Book Review: The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean

    If aliens ever land on Earth, Kean writes, one of the few things humans could present that might actually be understood by the visitors is the periodic table of the elements. That observation is typical of this quirky, thoughtful and thorough book. THE DISAPPEARING SPOON BY SAM KEAN Remembered by many as a daunting chart […]

  24. Book Review: Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception by Charles Seife

    The 2000 U.S. presidential election should have been decided by a coin flip. PROOFINESS: THE DARK ARTS OF MATHEMATICAL DECEPTION BY CHARLES SEIFE Or so argues Seife, a mathematician-turned-journalist who tackles some of society’s biggest math problems in his new book. The race between George W. Bush and Al Gore was, mathematically speaking, too close […]

  25. We, robot: What real-life machines can and can’t do

    As director of the Maryland Robotics Center, Satyandra Gupta oversees 25 faculty members working on all things robotic: snake-inspired robots, robotic swarms, minirobots for medicine and robots for exploring extreme environments on land, under the sea and in outer space. In September the Center hosted its first Robotics Day; afterward, Gupta talked robots with Science […]

  26. Unnatural selection

    Amino acids are the Legos of life — tiny bricks that snap together, forming the proteins on which every function of life depends. With rare exceptions, cells choose from just 20 kinds of Legos. But this is enough for human cells to assemble the more than 1 million proteins they need to function. Ralph Voltz […]

  27. Astronomy

    Black hole silhouettes

  28. Life

    Imperfect mimics

    Reprogramming techniques may not produce exact embryonic stem cell replicas.

  29. Letters

    Musical bonding In the article “Birth of the beat” (SN: 8/14/10, p. 18), Sandra Trehub says that music’s evolutionary origins remain unknown. Evolution is the sum of many acts of natural selection, so the question is, what survival advantage did music provide? The mother teaching her infant musical skills wouldn’t be so prevalent if survival […]

  30. Science Past from October 8, 1960 issue

    DO SEA SERPENTS EXIST? — The flurry of interest in sea monsters gained new impetus in September 1959, when Dr. Anton Brunn of Denmark described captured larval eels six feet long.… [T]he unusually large size of the larvae suggested that the parents must be of huge size. The adult eels, perhaps 30 to 50 feet […]

  31. Much Ado About (Practically) Nothing: A History of the Noble Gases by David E. Fisher

    Delve deep into the far right of the periodic table with a chemist who appreciates noble gases’ many uses. MUCH ADO ABOUT (PRACTICALLY) NOTHING: A HISTORY OF THE NOBLE GASES DAVID E. FISHER Oxford Univ. Press, 2010, 264 p., $24.95.