Mergers & Acquisitions
Since the beginning, scientists have been dividing reality into increasingly smaller bits: atoms, quarks, proteins, genes. As the list of parts has multiplied, so have their possible interactions, making the boundaries around scientific disciplines increasingly porous. From polymers to parasites, and genes to galaxies, our world is replete with wheelers and dealers, and hosts more shotgun […]
Osmos, a Physics Game Where It’s Survival of the Fattest
A screenshot from Osmos showing the player’s mote bright blue mote surrounded by smaller blue bubbles, which you can eat, and larger red blobs, which can eat you. In an era when fashion demands thinness, the video game Osmos, in which the goal is attaining ever greater levels of corpulence, stands as a rare exception. […]
Will Fusion Energy Ever Come Together?
The target assembly at the National Ignition Facility’s fusion experiment. The two triangle-shaped arms shield the cylinder until five seconds before a blast from the world’s most powerful lasers. It’s the poetry of fusion that draws us in. There in the heart of a star, in the welter of plasma, we find creation. In mindboggling […]
Steal a Skull, Understand a Genius
On May 31st, 1809, famed composer Joseph Haydn died, and he was soon buried in a simple ceremony—but his peaceful rest would not last long. Five days after his interment, a friend of his dug up his body and cut off his head. Joseph Carl Rosenbaum kept a detailed dairy chronicling his theft, noting […]
Ingenious: Daniel Wolf Savin
Illuminating the birth of the stars.
Why Is the Merger Called Mayonnaise Loved—& Hated—so Deeply?
While a strong trend in the culinary arts has been to let individual, natural ingredients shine through, one food has quietly come to dominate the retail market by merging a group of incongruous ingredients together. Mayonnaise, that familiar white goop hiding in your sandwich and coleslaw, is officially the most valuable condiment in the nation. […]
The Great Bioterror Threat Is Modern Society
E. coli that tested positive for NMD-1 growing in a petri dish. The sample came from a 67-year-old man in India. Nathan Reading via Flickr After the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent anthrax mailings, the United States government started taking the possibility of biological terrorism very seriously. It spent billions of dollars […]
The director of “Particle Fever” talks about his film.
The Most Massive Object in the Universe—How Was It Created?
The galaxy known prosaically as M87 doesn’t look like much. Unlike beautiful spiral galaxies (including the Milky Way), M87 appears as an orangish blob of stars through telescopes. Its only noticeable feature is the long streamer of gas emanating from the galactic center. The source of that jet is far from prosaic, however: It’s […]
Clash of the Tiny—One Pushy Squirrel & the Turf War for LA
A resourceful eastern fox squirrel eating pizzaCourtesy of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County In West Los Angeles, just across the 405 freeway from UCLA, sits a hospital that’s been serving veterans for more than 100 years. Back in 1904, it housed veterans from the Civil and Spanish-American Wars and was called the “Sawtelle Veterans […]