American Scientist

Articles from Vol. 105, No. 5, September/October

Adventures in a Less Fretful Cosmos: A Conversation with Brian Hayes
Brian Hayes and mathematics go way back. As he notes in Foolproof, and Other Mathematical Meditations, forthcoming in September, his first job out of high school involved hand-drawing the scales on electrical instruments, such as ammeters and voltmeters....
An Unusual Shimmer
To examine the outer shells, or cuticles, of shiny beetles, scientists can view them through filters like those found in modem 3D-movie glasses, which use both left- and right-handed circularly polarized filters (as the diagram below illustrates), one...
Computers That Can Run Backwards
In the universe of computing, heat is the companion of progress- and its enemy. According to Moore's law, the number of components on a chip of a given size doubles every two years, potentially doubling its heat output at the same rate. Computer engineers...
First Person: John G. Hildebrand
What can we learn about the brain by getting up close and personal with the sense of smell of the giant sphinx moth? More than you'd think, says John G. Hildebrand, a neuroscience professor at the University of Arizona and one of Sigma Xi's Distinguished...
From the President
We'll Always Have ParisI welcome my new role as Sigma Xi's president as of July 1. I have been most fortunate to have been mentored by Past President Tee Guidotti and former interim Executive Director and CEO John Nemeth for the past year. Tee and John...
Harassment in Science
When we talk about harassment in the sciences, the focus is often on the most scandalous cases-and there are plenty of recent ones to choose from, such as the one that induced astronomer Geoffrey Marcy to retire in 2015 from the University of California,...
In It Together
In the. early 1900s, Annie Montague Alexander, an heiress with a strong interest in field work and natural observation, became so concerned about how much natural biodiversity and habitat was being lost to human encroachment that she helped to found...
In the Shadow of the Moon
In the Shadow of the MoonThe appearance of a total solar eclipse is so distinctive, its effect so dramatic, that history records several instances when eclipses shaped human events. A 6th-century eclipse persuaded factions battling south of the Black...
Letters
When Adaptation Is EasyTo the Editors:Zachary D. Blount's article "Replaying Evolution" (May-June) is most interesting. 1 think the anoles that demonstrate the repeatability of evolution all came from the same stock and the differences are easy adaptations,...
Of Atoms and Anvils
Of Atoms and Anvils HERETICS! The Wondrous (and Dangerous) Beginnings of Modern Philosophy. Steven Nadler and Ben Nadler. 184 pp. Princeton University Press, 2017. $22.95.What do the contentious treatises penned by a passel of 17th-century European philosophers...
Sigma XI Offers Research Grants to Students
Sigma Xi invites undergraduate and graduate students to apply to its Grants-in-Aid of Research (GIAR) program by October 1, 2017. The application is on Sigma Xi's website at https://www.sigmaxi.org/ programs/grants-in-aid/apply.Endowment Distributes...
Structural Support for Damaged Tissue Repair
It all began with an experience one of us (Arinzeh) had more than two decades ago. In 1991, a summer research experience at the University of California at Berkeley demonstrated how engineering could improve the lives of patients. Instead of working...
Students Can Earn Nominations to the Research Honor Society
One by one, graduate, undergraduate, and high school students are called up to be recognized before their peers and judges. These students-who investigate a variety of topics, from chemistry to physics, from environmental science to engineering-are selected...
Suburban Stalkers: The Near-Wild Lions in Our Midst
On a rainy November night in the hills of Malibu, California, a mountain lion moves silently into a pen of alpacas. It snags a long throat in its jaws, teeth bloody, the animal barely squealing, no flight, fully down. There are more alpacas, many more,...
The "Simplest Satellite" That Opened Up the Universe
October 4, 2017, marks the 60th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite. It operated for only 92 days and did not carry any specific scientific equipment, but its transmitters generated radio signals heard around the world...
The Smelly Chemistry of the Titan Arum
Usually, you'd want to stay as far away as possible from a smell described variously as being like, the odor of a "dead rat," a "moldy bath mat," or "cabbages and death." However, people recently flocked to Cambridge University Botanic Garden to sample...
Why Ecology Needs Natural History
In March 1908 a remarkable partnership was forged that would affect the practice and teaching of field biology for more than a century. Annie Montague Alexander, heiress to a Hawaiian sugar fortune, had trained in paleontology at the University of California....
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