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Science Report Sorted by Title
A Quarterback Pass (Edition 42, No. 5)
It spins perfectly. It flies high, long and straight. But one physicist thinks its amazing it can be done at all. A report on the intricate forces that keep a football on target.
Age of the Universe (Edition 36, No. 11)
Some scientists say it's 10 billion years old; others say it's 20 billion. The problem is that different methods of measuring give different answers.
America's Cup (Edition 36, No. 1)
An historic all-women's team is currently fighting for the right to sail in the prestigious race. And their design team engineers are working just as hard to create the fastest boat.
Ancient Earthquakes (Edition 46, No. 1)
Over a period of 50 years in the 1200's BC all the great Bronze Age civilizations came toppling down and no one quite knows what set it off. One scientist thinks earthquakes might have been the culprit.
Antimatter Rockets (Edition 40, No. 12)
Antimatter sounds like science fiction nonsense, but it's real stuff, that physicists can produce. Now they're trying to see if it could be the rocket fuel of the future.
Artificial Blood (Edition 36, No. 7)
Blood is often one of the first things needed in a medical emergency, so medics wish for a safe and effective replacement they could use even when they can't find donors. A report on the search for a blood substitute.
Baby Heartbeats (Edition 38, No. 3)
A doctor has to listen to the sound of an unborn baby's heart to test its health, but the sound is so quiet that its tough to hear. Ultrasound works, but it can get expensive. Here's a new technique that might do the job better.
Background Noise (Edition 45, No. 9)
Do you think that background noise only makes it harder for us to hear? Think again! In fact, even thinking may be helped along by background noise.
Beach Physics (Edition 41, No. 2)
Usually white things are cool and dark things are hot. . . but at the beach things change. Sand can scorch your feet and grass seems cool. Why?
Big Bang (Edition 46, No. 13)
An original song for Science Report. A description of everything that was made in the Big Bang--all the particles that formed all the chemicals that formed all the planets that formed all life!
Blood Laser (Edition 45, No. 13)
This laser incorporates blood right into its machinery. Why? The light that comes out can tell a doctor in seconds whether the blood is healthy.
Blue Jean Physics (Edition 37, No. 11)
Whether you prefer your blue jeans dark and crisp or faded and comfy, here's a story about some new technology to make sure your jeans get made just the way you like them.
Booming Sands (Edition 45, No. 4)
Dunes in the desert can make awesome noises like the sounds of faraway drums and marching armies. Scientists are studying what causes these booms.
Breaking Away (Edition 42, No. 9)
People in glass houses should not throw stones. But why? What makes glass break and stones stay whole?
Bucky Ball Eye Glasses (Edition 35, No. 15)
No matter how bright a flash of light, buckyballs only let a certain amount of light through. A report on how this could be put to use in sunglasses.
Car Noises (Edition 41, No. 7)
The vroom vroom of a race car and the quiet purr of a luxury car are not accidental. Car manufacturers have entire departments devoted to getting the right acoustics out of your engine.
Cat's Purr (Edition 39, No. 4)
A cat purrs when it's happy, but humans certainly can't. (Try it, it's impossible) So how does a cat purr? and why does it bother?
Catscans of Fossils (Edition 43, No. 2)
To analyze a fossil, scientists usually saw it up into thin slices. This destroys the fossil and takes days. But a catscan can take a picture of a fossil in just ten minutes.
Cavity Blasters (Edition 36, No. 16)
Letting the dentist flash lasers in your mouth may sound scary, but it could help prevent something worse: the drill.
Chaos of the Heart (Edition 40, No. 3)
When a heart goes into fibrillation, its perfectly timed beats go haywire. Two scientists have been trying to map the bits of order in this chaos to learn how to control it.
Chaotic Voices (Edition 40, No. 6)
A raspy voice can sometimes point to disease--throat cancer or polyps or even stroke damage. To monitor such conditions, one grad student has developed a technique to test for even the barest hints of an altered voice.
Chocolate Shock Absorbers (Edition 43, No. 5)
You may some day drive your car on shock abosorbers made of chocolate--or something very much like it. Chocolate has the uncanny ability to instantly get soft and hard again when zapped with electricity.
Cleaning Water (Edition 40, No. 9)
In third world countries contaminated water kills 400 children under the age of five every hour. A new method to disinfect the water by running it under a UV lamp could help.
Cleaning with Ice (Edition 35, No. 2)
Scattered nuclear laboratories around the country have left a legacy of toxic waste to seep into the ground. Here's a way to clean up the soil, using simple ice.
Climate Clues (Edition 38, No. 7)
Like tree rings that describe the age and history of a tree, glaciers have layers and layers of ice that hold clues about the earth's climate for the past 250,000 years.
Coffee Stains (Edition 46, No. 12)
Dark on the outside, invisible on the inside, coffee stains always look the same. But the original drop was thick in the center and thin on the outside--why does it dry so weirdly?
Colliding Galaxies (Edition 46, No. 5)
Astronomy is tough--you can't just set up an experiment to run in the laboratory. Instead astrophysicists look at numerous galaxies and try to put them in chronological order. It seems big galaxies are made of smaller ones that have merged together.
Comet Nursery (Edition 38, No. 6)
Where do baby comets come from? Their home has just been found. The stork doesn't bring them . . . they start out in a huge belt of millions of comets and meteors way out beyond Pluto.
Complexity (Edition 39, No. 5)
With the millions of laws that govern nature and society it seems impossible to precisely predict the really complex things like the stock market or the weather or political races. But a group of scientists are nevertheless giving it a try.
Contraband Detection (Edition 39, No. 2)
Woe to the drug smuggler! A new technique based on atomic physics can tell what's inside a box without opening it.
Corrosion (Edition 36, No. 17)
Rust not only looks bad, it can be dangerous. On a bridge or on an airplane corroded metal can be fatal. Here's a new infrared technology that can help spot corrosion.
Crop Circle Math (Edition 46, No. 7)
No one knows who makes these fancy patterns trodden into farm land in England. But one scientist has come up with an intellectual profile of the perpetrator--he knows music, math, and has studied Euclid.
Crystals (Edition 44, No. 2)
The times they are a'changin'. Used to be everyone agreed on what a crystal was--until someone found one that didn't seem like any that had been seen before. Now scientists have agreed on a whole new definition of what makes a crystal.
Deep Earthquakes (Edition 36, No. 4)
Most earthquakes occur in the top 100 miles of the earth's crust, but some happen far below that, where the earth is so hot that rocks should simply flow past each other instead of producing the jolts that cause earthquakes. So what causes them?
Diesel Zapping (Edition 42, No. 8)
Diesel gas gets great mileage, but it's a pollutant. Pumping huge arcs of electrons into the exhaust could destroy the pollution before it gets out into the environment.
Dinosaur Deaths (Edition 40, No. 4)
If the extinction of the dinosaurs was caused by a gigantic meteor that hit the earth 65 million years ago, as many scientists believe, then there should be traces of meteor dust in the geological record. A group of oceanographers are drilling into the ocean floor to look for it.
Dinosaur Sounds (Edition 40, No. 11)
Every wonder what a dinosaur sounded like? Computer scientists are now running computer programs to determine just what sounds could have been produced by a recently uncovered duck billed dinosaur's skull.
Dollar Bill Boot Camp (Edition 40, No. 2)
Dollar bills have to go through all sorts of tests before they're allowed into circulation--to make sure they're durable, long-lasting and hard to counterfeit.
Dolphin Chaos (Edition 44, No. 3)
Dolphins have an uncanny sense of sonar, based partly on their ability to figure out exactly what type of sound signal to use to analyze their surroundings. The navy has used chaos theory to analyze how the dolphin does it.
Dolphin Physics (Edition 37, No. 2)
How do dolphins swim so fast with only minimal use of energy? Blubber!
Drifting Poles (Edition 45, No. 1)
Santa may have a hard time finding his way home this year. But who can blame him? The North Pole is constantly moving.
Drunken Speech (Edition 42, No. 3)
One scientist is working on how to detect drunkenness from listening to speech. And not just from obvious slurring--she thinks she can pick up very subtle changes.
Duck Physics (Edition 36, No. 14)
A classic springtime image is of a mother duck paddling along with her babies in tow. But it's not just family togetherness--the ducks swim in a row, because it helps them save energy.
Earth Shattering Asteroids (Edition 46, No. 6)
If a meteor plummeting to earth killed off the dinosaurs you've got to wonder what it would do to us. The worst possibility? It could generate a tsunami three miles high that would wipe out the Eastern Seaboard.
Egyptian Beer (Edition 42, No. 14)
Using an electron microscope and studying residues of bits of beer left in ancient trash heaps, one scientist has figured out just what recipe the Ancient Egyptians used to brew.
Electric Cars (Edition 45, No. 12)
Not only would electric cars help limit pollution, they might be able to generate electricity for utility companies.
Electric Eels (Edition 36, No. 12)
Deep in the jungles of South America in the murky waters of the Amazon, lives the electric eel, capable of delivering an electric jolt of up to 600 volts. How do they do it?
Elephant Seals (Edition 38, No. 16)
They're some of the deepest diving creatures in the ocean. Now they may start helping scientists explore the ocean depths as well.
Epilepsy and Chaos (Edition 36, No. 2)
Epileptic convulsions may be caused by chaotic electric signals in the brain, and physicists think they might be able to use anti-chaos controls to protect against a seizure.
Exotic Particles (Edition 45, No. 8)
Our universe is made of ordinary stuff: electrons, neutrons, protons. But these particles have some weird cousins that occasionally flash into existence for just moments. A new one was just discovered.
Explosion Proofing (Edition 38, No. 9)
You can't make a building perfectly immune to a bomb, just the way you can't make it immune to an earthquake. But you can make it sturdier. Here's how.
Finding Fake Art (Edition 46, No. 4)
Using state of the art x-ray technology, museums are able to crack down on imposter paintings and sculpture. One museum has been putting alleged Paul Revere silverwork to the test.
Finding the Fakes (Edition 38, No. 10)
Blue plastic can be made to look like turquoise so well that even an expert can be tricked. But a standard chemistry technique can look inside the stone and tell the fakes from the real McCoy.
Fireflies (Edition 41, No. 5)
Long before humans figured out how to build a lightbulb, the firefly was producing light. Here's how they do it.
Fireworks (Edition 37, No. 1)
Just in time for Independence Day: a report on how fireworks get their brilliant colors. Atoms convert the explosion energy into that dazzling display of lights.
Fishy Vision (Edition 42, No. 7)
A goldfish, while simple as a pet, holds interest to scientists. It might help doctors learn how to cure blindness.
Football Physics (Edition 38, No. 1)
Its fun, its exciting and it hurts. . . here's an explanation of why playing a game of tackle football can make you feel like you've been hit by a ton of bricks.
Fusion and Fission 101 (Edition 44, No. 5)
Can't fathom the finer facts of fusion and fission? Here's a report on what they are, how they work and why it matters.
Gamma Ray Bursters (Edition 44, No. 6)
For 30 years scientists have noticed bursts of gamma rays that stream in from the sky. No one has known what they are or even where they come from--our own galaxy or the outer reaches of the heavens? Until now.
Giant Insects (Edition 39, No. 10)
300 million years ago, giant dragonflies ruled the skies. Today such huge insects couldn't even survive, but those days there was 50% more oxygen in the atmosphere than there is today. That extra oxygen helped keep the gargantuan flies breathing.
Golf Physics (Edition 41, No. 11)
A new golf club with a special shaft makes use of some fundamental laws of physics to improve your swing.
Gravity Waves (Edition 35, No. 3)
We all know that water and sound move in waves--but gravity? Scientists from around the world have come together to search for gravitational waves.
Great Wall of China (Edition 42, No. 10)
Radar on the space shuttle has been mapping the globe. To everyone's surprise it found the remnants of an even older wall.
Guitar Physics (Edition 37, No. 15)
Guitars have been around for millennia, but that doesn't mean there isn't still room for improvement. One physicist has some ideas on how to remodel the guitar.
Himalaya Formation (Edition 36, No. 10)
They're the tallest mountains on earth, but no one knows just how they were formed. Now an international team of scientists is trying to find out.
History of the Sahara (Edition 39, No. 18)
The Sahara conjures up images of a vast, scorching wasteland. But it wasn't always that way. The space shuttle is now examining the Sahara for vestiges of ancient river beds.
History of the Transistor (Edition 45, No. 2)
Competition drives the market today, and it did 50 years ago, too. A description of the invention of the transistor in time for its fiftieth anniversary.
Horseradish Cleaner (Edition 37, No. 14)
Horseradish doesn't only taste good, it contains chemicals that make it a really cheap and easy way to clean up toxic waste.
Horseshoe Crab Sight (Edition 42, No. 13)
The circuits in your brain that translate a photon of light into an image in your mind are impossibly complex. This scientist has cracked that code for a much simpler animal--the horseshoe crab.
How to Make a Fossil (Edition 35, No. 7)
Becoming a fossil isn't easy. Most shells or bones decompose or get eaten. So a group of geologists are dropping bags of fossil wanna-bes in the ocean to see just what it takes to turn them into stone.
Ice Age Impetus (Edition 41, No. 8)
One scientist thinks it all started when Panama rose up out of the sea to join North and South America. A story on how separating the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans might have triggered the Ice Age.
Ice Skating (Edition 39, No. 3)
Its a common enough winter pastime, but do you know how it actually works? You skate over a slippery film of water sitting on top of the ice.
Keeping the Fizz In (Edition 41, No. 4)
Your average soda in a plastic bottle lasts about 6 weeks on the shelf, since its carbonation seeps out through the plastic. Liquid Crystals could change that.
Land Mine Detector (Edition 35, No. 1)
Over 80 million landmines lay scattered around the globe. But finding them could take decades and cost billions. A unique mine detector tries to aid the cause by using sound waves to search for the deadly mines.
Landfill Energy (Edition 42, No. 12)
The average American throws away a ton of trash per year. The EPA is trying to tap that trash as a source of energy.
Laser Cancer Treatment (Edition 43, No. 1)
Most cancer treatments use brute force--killing healthy cells along with unhealthy ones. Some physicists have teamed up with some doctors to use lasers in a much more precise technique.
Laser Imaging (Edition 35, No. 16)
X-Rays beat exploratory surgery for examining a patient's insides. But too many x-rays can be harmful. So some scientists are looking for ways to image the body with harmless laser light.
Laughing Gas in Space (Edition 37, No. 4)
It's not just for the dentist anymore. Laughing gas has been found out in space in large clouds that are the precursors to planet formation. Maybe laughing gas had something to do with the beginnings of life, as well.
Leap Second (Edition 39, No. 1)
You'd be one second behind all year, if they hadn't added a leap second to the world's clocks on January 1st. An explanation of why the leap second was needed to save the day.
Let There Be Matter (Edition 45, No. 10)
Einstein told us that matter and energy are really two sides of the same coin. Now scientists have confirmed this by making matter out of nothing more than rays of light.
Life on Europa (Edition 43, No. 4)
Europa is a freezing cold moon covered with craters that circles Jupiter. But scientists think it might have a liquid ocean and be our best chance for finding extra-terrestrial life in our solar system.
Listening to Pests (Edition 35, No. 11)
The Pink Bollworm can destroy field upon field of cotton if left unchecked. To the rescue: a new detector based on acoustical physics.
Listening to the Heavens (Edition 43, No. 8)
When something breaks into the earth's atmosphere it makes a thundering boom. Scientists listen for these noises in order to track dangerous meteors.
Lithium and Brown Dwarfs (Edition 38, No. 15)
No, its not a vertically challenged friend of Snow White, its out in space. A brown dwarf is a little smaller than a star, a lot bigger than a planet, and only hypothetical--until now. The very first confirmed brown dwarf has been found.
Little Green Algae (Edition 39, No. 16)
But what if the planet doesn't support technologically advanced life, but only plants? Here's what to look for when instead of little green men, there's only little green algae.
Looking at Cancer (Edition 35, No. 6)
Defects in one of the body's proteins called P53 are connected to cancer. By examining crystals of P53, scientists have been able to form a 3-D picture of the protein that pinpoints where those defects occur, opening up the road for new cancer drugs.
Looking at Lungs (Edition 37, No. 3)
An MRI takes great pictures of the body, by mapping out water molecules. But you can't take pictures of your lungs since there's no water to map. Here's a potential solution.
Looking for ET (Edition 44, No. 11)
Scientists have long listened for extraterrestrial radio waves in the search for intelligent life on other planets. One scientists think we should be monitoring for laser beams--the intergalactic equivalent of fiber optics--instead.
Looking for Mr. Goodplanet (Edition 43, No. 10)
Finding companionship hasn't been easy for the earth. It's not particularly easy to find planets outside of our own solar system. One scientist has a new idea that could help in the search.
Lyme Disease (Edition 44, No. 14)
Lyme disease is fully treatable with antibiotics in its early stages; unfortunately people often don't realize they're infected until it's too late. Now scientists are working on a preventative vaccine.
Magnetic Bacteria (Edition 45, No. 11)
These bacteria have tiny compass needles inside them to help them travel through the ocean.
Magnetic Storms (Edition 46, No. 2)
The sun spits out fiery blobs of magnetism that can disrupt our satellite communications. A brand new warning system could save us from these technology threatening storms.
Magnetic Tweezers (Edition 44, No. 12)
Some things are just too small to manipulate with regular mechanical tools. But these magnetic tweezers can precisely manipulate things as small as the DNA in your cells.
Magnets (Edition 43, No. 9)
They're not just for the refrigerator door anymore. Magnets keep your computer, your stereo, your car and most of today's technology running. A report on how they work.
Mars Paleontology (Edition 41, No. 3)
Mars certainly doesn't support life now, but did it once? NASA is organizing an attempt to look for ancient fossils on Mars.
Measuring Ice (Edition 39, No. 11)
To successfully model the climate, scientists need to know--among many things--how much ice there is at the poles. Here's a new technique to measure the thickness of the ice by listening to it.
Measuring Mt. Everest (Edition 40, No. 1)
Scientists know the distance to the moon to within an inch, but can only figure out the height of Mt. Everest to within a foot. A report on why taking the measure of a mountain is so tough.
Microwave-powered Satellites (Edition 43, No. 12)
Satellites need scorching hot fuel to function. And what's better than a microwave at getting things hot?
Microwaved Potholes (Edition 44, No. 15)
Those mysterious microwaves that are so good at popping your popcorn and heating your leftovers now have a new target -- potholes.
Mini-transistors (Edition 43, No. 13)
As computers get smaller, they need smaller electronics. Here's a new method that can create electrical circuits just atoms wide. The wrist watch computer may be in sight!
Mixing Mixed Nuts (Edition 37, No. 10)
"Contents may settle during handling"--you see it on cereal boxes and cans of nuts, but there's a science to figuring out just how those contents settle. Mini-currents set up in the packages cause strange effects.
Molecular Handedness (Edition 44, No. 10)
The building blocks of every protein in our bodies are left-handed. Scientists look back 4.5 billion years, long before the first life on earth, to figure out why.
Moon Mirror (Edition 35, No. 10)
The first astronauts on the moon left a giant mirror sitting on the moon surface. Simply by bouncing a laser beam off it, scientists have been learning all sorts of things ever since.
Mountains Flowing (Edition 43, No. 7)
Mountains look solid, but actually they flow like molasses under their own weight, according to a new study. It's changing the way scientists think about how the American landscape was formed.
Murderous Trees (Edition 38, No. 12)
400 million years ago, over half of all the creatures in the ocean were suddenly killed. Millenia later, one scientist has finally found the culprit: trees.
Nanotechnology (Edition 45, No. 7)
The first electric nanoguitar has been made! New techniques abound to create teensy, tiny machines.
Nature's Fractals (Edition 44, No. 4)
A fern, a mountain range, our blood vessels, patterns of climate change, river networks -- they all can be fractals. Nature is full of 'em. Scientists are discovering math equations that describe mother nature's handiwork.
Needles in a Haystack (Edition 38, No. 5)
Even tougher than finding a needle in a haystack, this highly advanced radar system can find a needle in outerspace--which is important, because a needle in orbit travels so fast it could destroy a satelite.
New and Improved Accelerators (Edition 41, No. 9)
Physicists who study the tiniest of particles usually need the biggest tools--particle accelerators miles and miles long. Using lasers, these gargantuan tunnels may someday be reduced to table-top size.
Nuclear Testing Without Testing (Edition 46, No. 8)
If the US agrees to stop nuclear testing by ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, scientist will have to reassure the military by devising other ways of making sure the stockpile is working.
Ocean Power (Edition 38, No. 14)
Who hasn't been impressed by the power of the ocean as the waves crash on shore? Here's a scientist who wants to put all that power to work doing everything from providing electricity to growing vegetables.
Ocean Telescope (Edition 35, No. 8)
Deep in the ocean off the coast of Hawaii, physicists are building a telescope to study one of the most ephemeral of all particles: the neutrino.
Olympic Torch (Edition 41, No. 1)
On July 19th, the Olympic Torch will arrive in Atlanta after being raced around the country for three months. Putting together a torch that would survive wind and rain wasn't so easy.
Painless Shots (Edition 40, No. 8)
Good news for the needle shy! Two scientists at MIT have developed a painless way to inject drugs using ultrasound.
Photos of the Stars (Edition 40, No. 10)
Getting an up close and personal pic of a star isn't easy. They are so far away they look like pinpoints of light, even through powerful microscopes. Now the first picture of a star other than our sun has been taken.
Physics of the Steel Pan (Edition 40, No. 13)
The Carribean's steel drums may be the most important new acoustic instrument this century. One scientist has studied just why the drum's vibrations produce such unique sounds.
Plausible Planets (Edition 39, No. 15)
Once you can see planets, which ones should you look at to have the best chances of spotting life? Simple. Look around stars that resemble our sun.
Potholes (Edition 39, No. 12)
With springtime coming, pot holes are just around the corner. Here's a scientist who's studying how they form--and how to keep them from forming.
Primordial Helium (Edition 38, No. 11)
After decades of searching, astronomers have just found helium in outer space! This helium is special because it's left over from the Big Bang.
Quantum Computers (Edition 36, No. 6)
Today's computers will always be stumped by certain math problems. But a new a computer based on quantum physics could beat even the toughies.
Quantum Teleportation (Edition 46, No. 9)
Beam me up, Scotty! Teleportation may be here soon. Well, for humans it won't be--but recent experiments have successfully teleported photons of light.
Quark Stars (Edition 45, No. 3)
Quarks make up the world, always traveling in pairs or in triplets. They are never alone--except maybe, just maybe at the heart of dying stars.
Radars and Archaeology (Edition 38, No. 13)
Archaeologists have often had to follow their nose, digging based on instinct and hoping to find buried treasure. Now, using radar, archaeologists can see what's under the ground without lifting a shovel.
Radio Waves (Edition 41, No. 12)
Just what are these waves that make your radio work?
Radioactivity (Edition 39, No. 6)
February of 1996 marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of radioactivity. A report on how it was first found and how it affected science.
Refrigerator Sounds (Edition 40, No. 14)
Refrigerators aren't environmentally perfect--they pump ozone-depleting chemicals into the air. A report about attempts to use sound instead of chemicals to chill your food.
Robotuna (Edition 35, No. 9)
The tuna is the fastest fish in the ocean, because it uses eddies in the water to get some extra momentum. A mechanical submarine is trying to do the same.
Rubber Ducks Go Swimming (Edition 36, No. 5)
Twenty-nine thousand rubber bath toys accidentally fell off a tanker in 1992. As they float around the Pacific, they are teaching scientists about ocean currents.
Santa Claus at the North Pole (Edition 38, No. 4)
Santa Claus didn't pick the best piece of real estate when he chose his home. Here's a description what life is like at the North Pole.
Santa Meets Einstein (Edition 42, No. 1)
Does Santa use magic or technology? Santa might just be able to get a present to all the kids in the world if he makes use of Einstein's equations.
Saturn's Rings (Edition 41, No. 10)
They're huge, they're icy and they're evaporating great rolls of steam into the air. Hubble Space Telescope recently got up close and personal with Saturn's Rings and learned some interesting things.
Saving Snow (Edition 39, No. 7)
Many people can't wait for the snow on their streets to melt. But here's a scientist who's perfected a way to keep a pristine snow flake frozen for years.
Scrupulous Surgery (Edition 39, No. 8)
One of the most advanced kinds of brain tumor surgery requires that the patient be so still that doctors have to nail the patient's head down. But, by making use of cruise missile technology, doctors may some day soon be able to home in on the cancerous target without such medieval techniques.
Sculpture Analysis (Edition 35, No. 5)
It's hard to know who built a statue or where it came from just by looking at it. But a good computer and a strong beam of neutrons, can help give some clues.
Sea Level (Edition 44, No. 9)
Every ocean around the world has its own distinct sea level. An oceanographer explains how properties of the water itself are responsible.
Sea Shells (Edition 44, No. 13)
They're beautiful, but to a chemist they're also challenging. In the lab, scientists just can't make minerals grow in the fancy curlicue shapes that a mollusk can. But they're getting closer.
Seeing Planets (Edition 39, No. 14)
Whether or not there's extra-terrestrial life out there is a moot point when we can't even see planets outside of our solar system. One scientist has an idea for a telescope that could help use spot planets around other stars.
Shock Wave Universe (Edition 37, No. 9)
Most explosions have a shock wave. Did the Big Bang have one, too? If so, it could change scientific assumptions about the creation of the universe.
Shot Locator (Edition 42, No. 4)
When a shot rings out in the night, it's not so easy to figure out where it rang from. Now police are learning to use earthquake detection techniques to find the source of gunfire.
Six-Eyed Telescopes (Edition 37, No. 13)
The repaired Hubble Space Telescope is great, but how do we improve telescopes on the ground? By putting a bunch of telescopes together to get ultra-stereo vision.
Smart Clothes (Edition 42, No. 11)
Their IQ isn't so high, but their memory is great. This new fabric can remember a temperature and keep it there--which is great for snowy days.
Smart Guitars (Edition 39, No. 19)
Expensive guitars vibrate differently than do cheaper ones, which makes them sound better. A grad student from Georgia has outfitted cheaper guitars with a computer chip to make them vibrate more melodically.
Smart Guns (Edition 44, No. 7)
Too often guns are used against the people they are supposed to protect. This new smart gun knows enough to only fire when being held by its owner.
Snake Electricity (Edition 40, No. 15)
Crawling on its belly, the snake can build up huge amounts of static electricity. A new theory says that the snake might put this electricity to use to sense its environment.
Space Spuds (Edition 39, No. 9)
A diet of Tang and dehydrated ice cream may sound ideal to kids, but its not going to keep astronauts very healthy for very long. But when there's no gravity, it's tough to grow food. Now, the first space potato has been grown.
Space Travel (Edition 38, No. 2)
With current technology it takes a couple of days to get to the moon. . . not to mention billions of dollars. One visionary thinks we can cut the time down to several hours, and the cost down to thousands if we build a solar powered highway.
Speeding up the Day (Edition 41, No. 14)
By building up huge resorvoirs of water over the last thirty years, humans have altered the weight distribution around the globe--and the length of time the earth takes to rotate.
Spider Balloons (Edition 46, No. 11)
When baby spiders are born they stick a little bit of silk out into the air that carries them off into the breeze. It's something like trying to jump out of a plane dragging a long rope behind you instead of a parachute. It wouldn't work for humans, but it does for spiders!
Spider Silk (Edition 37, No. 6)
Spider webs may be nothing but annoying in your own house, but inch per inch they're incredibly strong, and researchers would like to use them to make anything from parachutes to seat belts.
Spooky Action (Edition 44, No. 8)
Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light according to Einstein. But some particles do seem to be able to communicate more quickly than that. Something spooky is going on and it's one of the fundemental paradoxes in the world of physics today.
Star Babies (Edition 37, No. 7)
Just what is it about our sun that made it conducive to the creation of life? Most importantly, it's an only child.
Star Birth (Edition 44, No. 1)
Out in the vaccuum of space there's little chance of a particle meeting up with another one. Yet somehow they gravitate towards each other in the nursery of the stars.
Star Clocks (Edition 36, No. 3)
Certain stars spin at up to 800 times per second, and their rotation is so regular they are more accurate than an atomic clock. This has been used to discover all sorts of things in the galaxy--even planets.
Sticky Physics (Edition 41, No. 6)
Nothing sticks together without glue, not even the universe. Atoms are held together by something called glueballs, and now they may have been seen for the first time.
Sun Music (Edition 36, No. 15)
We see the sun all the time. . . but listen to it? The sun actually makes sound, and it's teaching astronomers something about its composition.
Super Gel (Edition 43, No. 11)
Watch it wiggle, see it jiggle. . . a scientist at MIT has developed a smart gel. It's a jello-like material that can shrink and swell on command. He hopes it will be used to make anything from comfortable shoes to artificial muscles.
Super-fast Train (Edition 39, No. 13)
Trains are often considered a quaint or romantic way to travel. But with this new technology they could soon become as fast and high tech as a plane flight.
Super-strong Beetles (Edition 41, No. 13)
The rhinocerous beetle can carry a hundred times its own weight--that's like a human trying to carry a cadillac. A report on one scientist's attempt to study the beetle's weight lifting abilities.
Tell Tale Teeth (Edition 39, No. 17)
Teeth record a history of what an animal eats and drinks. And since water composition varies according to the weather, an animals' teeth can actually be used to track the climate.
Tennis Physics (Edition 46, No. 3)
What's the best place on the racket to hit a ball? What's the worst? And why is the worst spot for a return hit, the best place for a serve?
The Love Boson (Edition 45, No. 6)
An original song for Valentine's Day. It describes the particles in our world that create all the forces: gravity, electromagnetism, strong, weak. . . and love?
The Search for Antimatter (Edition 42, No. 2)
We're all made of matter, but scientists think there should be antimatter out there, too. Now NASA is going to go looking for it.
The Search for Dark Matter (Edition 35, No. 12)
Scientists believe that the universe is filled with dark matter--exotic stuff we can't see, that nevertheless affects the way galaxies move. Perhaps we can track dark matter by examining the everyday minerals around us.
The Solar System's Edge (Edition 36, No. 8)
Launched 15 years ago, two NASA spacecraft--Voyagers 1 and 2 are still sending back information as they head for the very edge of the solar system.
Tornado Detection (Edition 43, No. 6)
The heart of a whirling tornado creates a high-pitched hum, far too soft for any human to hear. But special microphones can tune in to the sound and give a town advance warning of an oncoming twister.
Tornadoes (Edition 40, No. 7)
They do more than a million dollars of damage in the US a year. What sets these furious storms spinning?
Traffic Jams (Edition 36, No. 9)
They ruin your day, waste gas, and make you late for work. Scientists hope that studying traffic jams as if they were sound waves can help eliminate them from your commute.
Tree Stories (Edition 42, No. 6)
The rings on a tree tell a tale--each ring holds clues about that particular year. Archaeologists are using the rings to interpret ancient history.
Tricorders (Edition 38, No. 8)
They're futuristic sci-fi gadgets from Star Trek that instantly tell you the composition of the air, the walls even the people around you. We don't have anything like it yet, but we're one step closer, with a machine that can monitor air safety in factories.
Tuning Fork Circuits (Edition 37, No. 8)
Hit one tuning fork and a second one will soon start ringing in sympathy. Now a physicist thinks the same principle might work to power up computer circuits.
Turtle Navigation (Edition 35, No. 4)
Turtles in Florida hatch on the beach, immediately crawl into the water, and uncannily know how to swim all the way to Europe and home again. Where do they get their incredible sense of direction? From the earth's magnetic field.
Ultrafast Lasers (Edition 35, No. 13)
Photographers use strobe lights to catch an instant of something very fast on film--say a speeding bullet or a running cheetah. Now scientists are using a similar method to watch the ultrafast movements of atoms.
Underwater Life (Edition 43, No. 3)
At the bottom of the ocean, miles away from the nearest sunlight, live all sorts of bizarre lifeforms around submarine volcanoes. These ecosystems are changing what scientists think about life on earth.
Walking On Water (Edition 46, No. 10)
Spiders can walk on water. And run. And sprint. And skate so fast you could barely keep up. How do they do it?
Weather Forecasting (Edition 35, No. 14)
A year of drought can quickly destroy an otherwise healthy crop. But by examining a periodical warm spell in the Eastern Pacific called El Nino, scientists may be able to give farmers some advance warning.
What Good are Toes? (Edition 36, No. 13)
First, they help you keep your balance. Second, they enable you to change gears just like in a car.
What Makes A Quark? (Edition 37, No. 12)
Smaller than atoms, smaller than protons and neutrons, is the quark. It seems to be the most basic piece of matter that makes up the universe. But what's a quark made of?
Where's the Glue? (Edition 37, No. 5)
One of the tiniest particles in nature is the quark. Several quarks together can create protons and neutrons--but just what holds them so tightly together?
X-Ray Vision (Edition 45, No. 5)
Superman can see through walls, and so can the rest of us mere mortals, with this special flashlight.
Zapping Waste (Edition 40, No. 5)
Factories and laboratories and hospitals all produce hazardous waste which needs to be cleaned up before its disposed of. Here's a new, cheap and easy method to destroy the waste with electricity.
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