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    Where does the story of life and light begin? Maybe with the fact that most life on Earth runs on sunlight, or that starlight may have set the direction in which all of Earth’s biomolecules spiral. But, when most of us cannot see the Milky Way, and glowing screens have shifted our circadian rhythms, have […]

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    The Quest to Understand—and Mimic—Nature’s Trickiest Colors

    The West Indian Ocean coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae)AlessandroZocc via Shutterstock It was an image in a book of a sparkly blue fish—a West Indian Ocean coelacanth—that inspired German painter Franziska Schenk to begin a project that would occupy much of her adult life. “It was mysterious and beautiful,” she says, “and as a child I had […]

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    Sparkly Mints May Help Explain Puzzling “Earthquake Lights”

    Agriculture inspector Jim Conacher photographed these earthquake lights over Tagish Lake, in Canada’s Yukon Territory, in 1972Jim Conacher For centuries, people have been reporting mysterious lights along the ground and in the sky soon before an earthquake hits. But it wasn’t until 1966 that there was some solid evidence of the lights, when one man […]

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    Your House Is Waiting to Be Turned Into a Projection Screen

    The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, illuminated by Obscura Digital’s projectionsObscura Digital The silver screen. Movie screenings. The big and small screens. Ever since 1879, when Eadweard Muybridge used the world’s first movie projector to display a loop of 13 images of a galloping horse, the preferred place to show motion pictures has […]

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    Future of Fossils: Print Your Own Dinosaur at Home?

    A 3D printout of the Plateosaurus vertebra placed next to the (mislabeled) field jacket that contains the original fossilRene Schilling et al. / Radiology In 1898, the American Museum of Natural History was presented with a golden opportunity along with a challenge almost as significant. Paleontologist Walter Granger had returned from a trip to the […]

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    Born of Meteor Dust, Unusual Clouds Appear in the Night Sky

    Martin Koitmäe via Flickr If you look to the darkening sky after the end of a long summer day, you might see tendril-like clouds with a blueish tinge that hang at the edge of space. They appear when conditions are right, generally at latitudes close to the North or South Poles, and only when the […]

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    The Health Costs of our Late-Night Light Addiction

    A study at RPI’s Lighting Research Center tested the effects of digital tablets and different colors of light on subjects’ circadian rhythms.Brittany Wood et al. / RPI In the summer of 2012, the American Medical Association (AMA) adopted a new policy stating that nighttime light exposure is hazardous to human health. “The primary human concerns […]

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    The Men Who Planted Trees

    In West Africa, a model for worldwide conservation takes root.

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    What the Deer Are Telling Us

    A lesson in home improvement.

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    It’s Alive!

    The Spring 2014 Quarterly has awakened.