Tech

An ocean of troubles

Courting black voters: Clinton pursues the black vote in Chicago and New… Democracy in America February 17th, 21:56 Encryption battle: Tim Cook, privacy martyr? Business and finance February 17th, 20:45 Plane truths: Bombardier on course for another bail-out Business February 17th, 20:23 Babbage: 5G to unite them all Science and technology February 17th, 18:23 The Bushes in South Carolina: George ...

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Gravitational waves have been detected for the first time

TWO black holes circle one another. Both are about 100km across. One contains 36 times as much mass as the sun; the other, 29. They are locked in an orbital dance, a kilometre or so apart, that is accelerating rapidly to within a whisker of the speed of light. Their event horizons—the spheres defining their points-of-no-return—touch. There is a violent ...

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Go towards the light

The shadows are Synechocystis cells. The arrows indicate the direction of illumination SCEPTICS of evolution often point to the human eye and ask how such a complex object could have evolved when the imperfection of any part of it would cause the whole thing to be useless. It is a silly argument, confusing imperfection with simplicity. Simpler eyes than a ...

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Something in the air tonight

SINCE the 1940s, southern California has had a reputation for smog. Things are not as bad as once they were but, according to the American Lung Association, a health group, Los Angeles is still the worst city in the United States for levels of ozone, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. Gazing down on the city from the Getty Centre, ...

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Bugs in the system

LIVERS and alcohol do not get on well together. That is well known. But precisely how alcohol destroys the liver of someone who drinks too much has been a mystery. Though alcohol (technically, ethanol—the type of alcohol that has two carbon atoms and is produced by yeast fermentation) wreaks some damage directly, experiments suggest this is by no means the ...

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Going, going…

IT LOOKS like something out of a Gothic movie: a metre-long monster that emerges slowly through blistered human skin, its victim writhing in agony. No one is spared. It can creep out from between the toes of a child or from the belly of a pregnant woman. In the mid-1980s Dracunculus medinensis, the Guinea worm, as this horror is called, ...

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Let’s just try that again

THE Journal of Irreproducible Results is a long-running satirical magazine, designed for the amusement of scientists. If the title were not already taken, though, it would be a good one for another, more serious publication that is being launched on February 4th. The Preclinical Reproducibility and Robustness Channel, an electronic rather than a paper journal, is dedicated to the task, ...

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Wait not in vain

OVER the course of an average winter North American wood frogs, Rana sylvatica, may freeze solid several times. They are able to get away with this by replacing most of the water in their bodies with glucose mobilised from stores in their livers. That stops ice forming in their tissues as temperatures drop. When things warm up again, the frogsicles thaw ...

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