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    Food Vibrations—Spiders Are Total Virtuosos With Their Webs

    A single thread of spider silk flexes deforms under impact from a plastic bullet traveling around 400 meters per second, or 900 miles per hour.OxfordSilkGroup Few materials are as fascinating as spider silk. It’s stronger than steel, flexible rather than brittle, and light enough to float on the breeze. And vibrations in webs tell spiders, […]

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    Is the World Making You Sick?

    The chemicals in our everyday lives are, argues immunologist Claudia Miller.

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    How to Make a Microcosm of the Ocean

    The FloWave tank performing “party tricks” for a gathering of leaders of the UK marine-renewable-energy sector.FloWave Every day on Canada’s Atlantic coast, just northeast of Maine, a gargantuan amount of water rushes through rocky cliffs into and out of the Bay of Fundy. With currents typically reaching speeds of 12 knots, or 20 feet per […]

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    Using Sharks’ Tricks to Prevent Lethal and Costly Infections

    Staph bacteria (red) forming a biofilmNational Science Foundation A common enemy befouls surgeons, plumbers, and sailors alike: slime. In each of their professions, they wage ceaseless war against biofouling—layers of living organisms that stick around exactly where we don’t want them.  Removing these various scum layers is a billion-dollar endeavor. Boats were among the first […]

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    Why Galactic Collisions Are So Beautiful

    The Antennae Galaxies are in a state of “starburst,” when the gas from the two colliding galaxies crashes together to produce huge numbers of new stars.ESA/Hubble & NASA According to the basic approximation, stars are formed by a stately, gradual process that belies the power it eventually unleashes. Within a great gas cloud, gravity slowly […]

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    The 6 Most Surprising, Important Inventions From World War I

    British soldiers in a WWI trenchAustralian War Memorial Just over 100 years ago, on the 28th of June, 1914, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was assassinated in Sarajevo. That set into motion a chain of events that, within several weeks, culminated in the European great powers declaring war on each other. The resulting conflict […]

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    How To Price a Forest, and Other Economics Problems

    A Cambridge economist discusses wealth, health, and disaster.

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    In one sense, turbulence is a typical subject of scientific research. Described by series of coupled differential equations, and verified by precise measurement, it lies on the harder side of the scientific spectrum. But in another sense, its irreducible complexity requires of the scientist a keen intuitive sense. This is amply clear in the history […]

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    Why the World Cup Suddenly Has So Many Goals

    NASA engineer Rabindra Mehta explains the aerodynamics of the World Cup soccer ball.

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    Cloudy With a Chance of War

    His weather forecasts changed the world. Could his predictions of war?