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  • What Stars Are Made Of: The Life of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin
    Donovan Moore


    A new biography tells the tale of an accomplished astronomer’s barrier-breaking life

    In the early 20th century, astronomers believed in a uniformity principle that held that all objects in the universe were made of the same elements, in approximately the same amounts. In 1925, however, Cecilia Payne, a Ph.D. student at Harvard, discovered that stars are composed of a million times more hydrogen than was previously assumed. Read More
  • Collection

    Science at Sundance 2020

    A counterculture commune seeking a more sustainable lifestyle moves inside an airtight dome. Parents yearning to connect with their autistic children find hope in a Japanese author’s profound testimony. The climate crisis hits home as a tight-knit California community attempts to move forward after a devastating wildfire. From a meandering love letter to an imperiled… Read More
  • Oceans
    Nick Bentley, Dominic Crapuchettes, Ben Goldman, and Brian O’Neill


    An underwater arms race drives a vibrant new game

    North Star Games’ new board game, Oceans, simulates marine evolution, modeling the fierce struggle for existence among competing species in an “eat or be eaten” environment. It does this by enabling players to create species whose feeding strategies are dictated by one of 12 trait cards. “Filter feeders,” for example, forage exclusively from the fish… Read More
  • The Rule of Five: Making Climate History at the Supreme Court
    Richard J. Lazarus


    A law professor investigates the legal decision to regulate U.S. greenhouse gases

    The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency is widely seen as the most important U.S. environmental ruling of all time. But the suit, which led to a ruling that the Clean Air Act of 1970 empowered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gases, was almost never brought. Read More
  • The Dance of Life: The New Science of How a Single Cell Becomes a Human Being
    Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz and Roger Highfield


    The personal and professional collide in a scientist’s story of early human development

    With one phone call, Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz’s life as a scientist collided with her personal life in the most dramatic way. As Zernicka-Goetz stood at her desk at the University of Cambridge, a genetic counselor explained that some cells derived from the placenta supporting her fetus carried a serious chromosomal anomaly. But her knowledge of how… Read More
  • Stealth: The Secret Contest to Invent Invisible Aircraft
    Peter Westwick


    A historian investigates the Cold War competition to create an invisible aircraft

    Since the beginning of aerial combat, designers have attempted to make aircraft invisible. With each advance, however, other technologists have developed better methods for detecting covert combatants. Although scientists and engineers worked on both sides of this difficult problem for years, it was not until the 1970s that the creation of an aircraft invisible to… Read More
  • Antimony, Gold, and Jupiter's Wolf: How the Elements Were Named
    Peter Wothers


    Charming anecdotes and historical diversions come to life in tales of how the chemical elements were named

    Beryllium would taste as sweet by any other name. Indeed, the element was once also known as glucinum or glucinium, derived from the Ancient Greek word for “sweet.” However, clarity is key when the substance in question is also poisonous. The need to establish clear chemical nomenclature originated with alchemists centuries ago and continues today… Read More
  • Electric Brain: How the New Science of Brainwaves Reads Minds, Tells Us How We Learn, and Helps Us Change for the Better
    R. Douglas Fields


    A neuroscientist confronts the history and future of our quest to understand electricity’s role in brain function

    Imagine that you are living in Rome in the year 44 CE and that you are suffering from an appalling migraine and have gone to see a doctor. The doctor approaches you, hoisting a shining torpedo fish toward your pounding skull. The goal? The fish will shock you until your head feels numb and your… Read More
  • Einstein in Bohemia
    Michael D. Gordin


    A historian dives deep into Einstein’s brief, often overlooked time in Prague

    A little-known encounter between Albert Einstein and Franz Kafka may have occurred in Prague in 1911. We know that both men attended, on at least one occasion, evening gatherings in the famous salon of Berta Fanta, and that Einstein may have lectured to this audience on the relativity principle in May 1911. It is likely… Read More