American Scientist

Articles from Vol. 102, No. 3, May/June

A Perspective on the Migraine Mind
A few centuries ago, people who described an episode of strangely skewed vision followed by a throbbing headache might be told they had received a message from heaven, or else they had been possessed by an evil spirit. A generation ago, similar tales...
A Vast Sea of Plastic
A Vast Sea of Plastic PLASTIC AHOYI Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Patricia Newman. 48 pp. Millbrook Press, 2014. $30.60.Here's a pop quiz for the school-age scientists in your life. What substance exists in innumerable shapes and colors,...
Briefings
In this roundup, Katie Burke summarizes notable recent developments in scientific research, selected from reports compiled in the free electronic newsletter Sigma Xi SmartBrief. Online: https://www.smartbrief.com7sigmaxi/index.jspBig Bang Inflation DetectedGroundbreaking...
First Person: How Do Living Cells Perform Quality Control?
A molecular engineering lab at Cornell University made headlines this spring when the research team led by Matthew DeLisa, the William L. Lewis professor of engineering, announced they had developed a new form of antibody by inserting an antibody fragment...
From the President
Elevating Scientists, Science, and Scientific Understanding-Stepping UpSigma Xi members are joules. They are the apotheosis of scientific power and energy. They are a formidable force. Brought together as companions in zealous research, as The Scientific...
H.M.S. Beagle, 1820-1870
"She belongs to that much-abused class, the '10-gun brigs'... notwithstanding which; she has proved herself,... in all kinds of weather, an excellent sea boat."-John Lort Stokes"After having been twice driven back by heavy southwestern gales, Her Majesty's...
Letters
Getting PersonalTo the Editors:I read with great interest "Uniquely Me!" by Brian Hayes (March-April, Computing Science) on uniquely identifiable personal information. Hayes's descriptions of the lengths to which companies go to capture these data and...
Living Color
Living Color THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF COLOR: Science, Nature, History, Culture, Beauty of Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Violet. Joann Eckstut and Arielle Eckstut. 240 pp. Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers, 2013. $29.95.Perception of color is inseparable...
Meet Your Fellow Companion: Darko Cotoras
Sigma Xi's motto is the Greek "Spoudon Xynones," or "Companions in Zealous Research." With that thought in mind, we like to highlight "Fellow Companions" to learn more about their work and what the honor of induction to Sigma Xi has meant for their careers....
Meet Your Fellow Companion: Jayalakshmi Govindan
As a doctoral student, Jayalakshmi Govindan (SX 2013) is investigating how zebrafish regenerate their fin skeletons in the hopes of one day making this type of bone regeneration possible for humans.Tell us about your background.I received my master of...
On the Trail of the First Placental Mammals
In view of the nearly countless, wildly varying forms of life that surround us, it is easy to forget that all the species living on Earth today represent only the tip of the iceberg of evolutionary history. By most scientific estimates, 99 percent of...
Partnership Fuels Sigma Xi's New Pre-Collegiate Journal
At the 2014 USA Science & Engineering Festival, held April 23-27 in Washington DC, Sigma Xi was pleased to announce a signed partnership agreement with the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science, and Technology....
Science and Human Rights: A Bridge towards Human Dignity
Each of us wants our research to ultimately make our world a better place, to benefit society. An emerging field bridging science and human rights offers many opportunities for scientists, engineers, and human rights organizations to work together towards...
Sex, Lies, and Misconceptions
Sex, Lies, and Misconceptions HOW WE DO IT: The Evolution and Future of Human Reproduction. Robert Martin, xii + 308 pp. Basic Books, 2013. $27.99.One of the great paradoxes of modern biology is that scientists now have the.means to take control of human...
Taking Action, Online and in Person
A menean Scientist has a long history of Ylieaturing authors from underrepresented groups in science. We support the philosophy that the value of diversity lies in creating a scientific community that is more creative and more inclusive of all ideas.These...
Taking a Digital Dive
For years, Richard Vevers was exasperated by how few people were aware of the threats to coral reefs, vital habitats built by tiny invertebrates and the symbiotic algae that feed them. A full quarter of all marine species globally depend on tropical...
The Chemistry Behind the Color Change
Invisible inks use a variety of chemical mechanisms to perform their appearing and disappearing acts. Listed here are a few of the more common types.Cobalt ChlorideChangeable colors, such as in landscape drawings on some antique fire screens, were made...
The Fine Art of Decay
The sheer magnitude of decay in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, where I live, is thrilling and sometimes overwhelming. Life in these forests involves soggy leaves, soggy children, and that ever-present smell of decomposing vegetative matter. Children...
The Hidden Past of Invisible Ink
For many people, the words invisible ink readily conjure up images of childhood fun with lemon juice and a candle, or spy messages during wartime. And there is a good reason for this association, because secret writing has long been part of the worlds...
The Nature of Scientific Proof in the Age of Simulations
Empiricism lies at the heart of the scientific method. It seeks to understand the world through experiment and experience. This cycle of formulating and testing falsifiable hypotheses has amalgamated with a modern form of rationalism-the use of reasoning,...
The Quest for Randomness
One of my favorite Dilbert cartoons features a lizardlike creature that's billed as a "random number generator," but that only ever seems to spit out the number nine. Dilbert asks his guide, "Are you sure that's random?" The guide replies, "That's the...
The Race to Stop a Citrus Plague
The epidemic known as citrus greening is the greatest threat the U.S. citrus industry has ever encountered and a dramatic example of the disruptive effects of invasive species. The Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri), seen for the first time in Florida...
The Work of David Rosner
David Rosner uses history to help people and doesn't shy away from testifying in court to do so. He is the 2014 recipient of Sigma Xi's John P. McGovern Science and Society Award, which is given to those whose work transcends their career as a researcher....
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