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Archives for April, 2011

Still in the Dark

The universe remains a mysterious place, and one of the biggest mysteries confronting astronomers today is that “the amount of mass we can see through our telescopes is not enough to keep galaxies from spinning apart.” Since the 1930’s, this shortfall has been covered by dark matter, a hypothetical substance which has never actually been…

Successful Science Writing

On Confessions of a Science Librarian, John Dupuis considers the keys to writing a successful science book, such as The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Most important, says John, is crossover appeal: “normally picky reviewers loved TILoHL because it’s more than ‘just’ a science book. They saw it as a book that’s also about people…

Mapping Frontiers

The science of cartography has come a long way over the centuries, from the caricatured coastlines of antiquity to the highly-detailed satellite images of today. We know our terrestrial boundaries very well, and until all the polar ice melts and raises sea levels, mapmakers are busy looking elsewhere. Greg Laden explores the magma chamber beneath…

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

The science portion of The Nation’s Report Card was released on February 24th, with test scores from school districts in seventeen urban centers. Almost every district performed below the national average. Greg Laden explains, “Poverty determines the outcome of the results, and this is probably exacerbated in urban zones where private schools siphon off the…

Refusing to Yield

To judge by its name, cancer may seem like a monolithic disease. But a recent study which sequenced the genomes of seven prostate cancers reveals just how staggeringly complex the disease can be. The sequencing revealed not only DNA mutations, but rampant rearrangements of the chromosomes themselves. As ERV explains, “we arent talking a mutation…