This Week: Ancient water = ancient habitat?
In the News: Flying virus!
Coming Thursday: Roaches: A lot smarter than you thought!
Smelters refine aluminum ore, but not iron ore, with electricity. A new electrolytic process for refining iron ore could save vast amounts of greenhouse gases.
Spears helped our ancestors eat and defend themselves. Spearmaking required ingenuity, experiments and communication. Symmetrical stone tools with damage at the tip indicate that spears were being used in South Africa half a million years ago, according to a new study.
Native agriculture could be a sophisticated response to a challenging environment. What were the secrets of permaculture, companion cropping and corn farming? Could these techniques contribute to modern farming?
New Year’s approaches. A “permanent” calendar could finally answer the annual, “Uh, what day is New Year’s eve this year?” question. This calendar would place each date on a specific day every year, and simplify life for schedulers. But would a permanent calendar be accepted?
With space shuttles in museums, what is the near-term American plan to return to space? Can other countries or private companies fill the gap?
Long ago, nature devised the hinge and ball and socket for appendages like legs and wings. The screw is the latest simple machine to be discovered in nature. Why do weevils, a type of beetle, have a screw? How does it help weevils survive their 3-D world?
Could soil help? One-third of soils are degraded. In fighting desertification, erosion and nutrient loss, some soil-restoring techniques solve multiple problems.
With three nuclear reactors and three pools of spent fuel teetering on the edge of meltdown, Japanese technicians struggled to throttle the nuclear demons after the gigantic tsunami. Is Fukushima closer to Chernobyl or Three Mile Island? How will the disaster affect plans for a renaissance of nuclear power?
Military technology supports atmospheric and ocean science! 1: a robot sub smart enough to find stuff in the deep ocean 2: a metal fish glides for weeks under the ice 3: an electric sinker-bobber that never needs recharging 4: a research jet that flies miles above airliners.
A small constriction in a buried pipe shows that the Maya were using pressurized pipes before year 750. It’s more proof that when it comes to water, people get inventive! And what did the Maya do with the New World’s oldest plumbing? How about storing water, supplying drinking water, and flushing toilets?
London pioneered video surveillance in public, but it’s catching on fast. Many major cities have systems, and more are coming. What do these cameras learn? How do they interact with other sources of data? In this culture of disclosure should we even worry about privacy?
Happy Thanksgiving! We celebrate eating — and food. Hungry: Is that your “food clock” ringing? Why does a fruitfly need to smell? How does bitter taste to you? And could eating MSG make you fat?
To measure the molecules that give food taste, you need a standardized eating machine. One has finally arrived, courtesy of food technologists in France (of all places!). Meet the mechanical masticator!
With the Nevada waste dump 20 years late, deadly radwaste still piles up. Would removing the plutonium for new fuel aid proliferators or help with waste storage? The debate continues.
For the scientist or wanna-be who’s (almost) got it all: We scour the planet to find ancient wood, ancient-er ice, and a bamboo microscope. Dive into our holiday gift catalog slide-show!