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Tag Archives: Scientific American

The Triassic's Mystery Creature

0SHARESShare Dinosaurs are our ambassadors to the deep past. There’s hardly a better example of this fact than the Triassic. This stretch of time, the first chapter of the three-part Mesozoic epic, is often referred to as the Dawn of the Dinosaurs and ran from about 250 to 200 million years ago. This is despite the fact that dinosaurs were ...

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Canada's Unexpected Ostrich Mimic

0SHARESShare Where a dinosaur lived is one of the basic details we ask about the terrible lizards. Just like anything with dinosaurs, though, the reality is more complicated than we often appreciate. The site where a dinosaur’s bones are exhumed isn’t the spot that animal lived, but where it was buried. And even if we broaden our scope to the ...

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The Sea Cucumber That Became a Jellyfish [Video]

0SHARESShare H.P. Lovecraft, creator of the infamous Cthulhu mythos , said his dread tentaculate creature slumbered in a sunken city in the South Pacific Ocean. In that very spot (and in other spots around the world) may live a creature with a striking resemblance: the world’s only full-time swimming sea cucumber. Although first described from a specimen hauled from the ...

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Grandma's Little Robot

0SHARESShare Robots already perform many traditionally human tasks, from vacuuming to surgery—and they could soon help care for the sick and elderly. But until they can convincingly discern and mimic emotions, their caretaker value will be severely limited. In an effort to create “friendlier” machines, researchers are developing robotic helpers that can better read and react to social signals. In ...

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Glass Spheres Forged by Volcanic Lightning Offer Clues about Eruptions

Studying volcanic eruptions in person can be dangerous, and scientists have died trying . Volcanic lightning—yes, volcanoes make lightning!—by contrast offers a safer opportunity to examine what happens inside a volcano. But these bright bolts still occur in vicious environments, plus the thick, dense plumes of ash can obscure lightning strikes. Now, scientists have developed a way to analyze volcanic lightning ...

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Feeding a Hot, Hungry Planet

0SHARESShare We need to move beyond thinking about the environment—our land, water and air—only as a source of inputs for the food system. Instead we need to recognize that global environmental changes can diminish yields, reduce the amount of food we produce, and affect how nutritious it is and where we produce it. But just how does the experience of ...

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Does the Brain Use More Energy During Particular Activities?

The short answer is yes: certain brain regions do indeed consume more energy when engaged in particular tasks. Yet the specific regions involved and the amount of energy each consumes depend on the person’s experiences as well as each brain’s individual properties. Before we delve into the answer, it is important to understand how we measure a brain’s energy expenditure. ...

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Menstrual Cycle "on a Chip" Offers a New Window into Female Physiology

0SHARESShare The exquisite hormonal signaling that drives the female reproductive system cannot be modeled in a flat petri dish. Scrambling to address history’s long dearth of research in women’s health and physiology, scientists have now created the first “organ on a chip” model that functionally re-creates the female menstrual cycle. This 3-D system may help scientists understand some causes of ...

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Physics: New Frontiers*

0SHARESShare IntroductionBetter Than Sci-Fiby W. Wayt Gibbs Section 1: Amazing Astrophysics 1.1   The Black Hole at the Beginning of Time        by Niayesh Afshordi, Robert B. Mann, and Razieh Pourhasan 1.2   The First Starlight        by Michael D. Lemonick 1.3   Burning Rings of Fire        by Joseph Polchinski 1.4   A Brief History of Time Travel        by Tim Folger 1.5   Giant Bubbles­­ of the ...

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Science Must Clean Up Its Act

0SHARESShare As a mathematician, computer scientist, social scientist, and Director of Research for the Association for Women in Science , I’ve spent much of my life working in and studying the scientific community. I’ve created mathematical modeling tools, built robots, constructed surveys and interview protocols, designed user interfaces and paper prototyping techniques, written line after line of code, and analyzed ...

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