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VOLUME 104 | NUMBER 4 | July 2016

The Latest on Homo naledi

John Hawks

A recent addition to the human family tree doesn't fit in clearly yet.

A Computed Flame

Robert Frederick

To understand how fuel burns in a diesel engine takes chemistry knowledge and supercomputing muscle.

The Road Ahead

Henry Petroski

Designers envisioning the future have not always been able to foretell  advances in automotive and motorway technology.

How Paperweights Emerged from the Desk of Necessity

Henry Petroski

Objects that keep papers from blowing around demonstrate the role that resourcefulness can play in the design process.

The Tales We All Must Tell

Robert Louis Chianese

Public confessions of misdeeds against nature can inspire environmental awareness, commitment, and action.

An Arresting Alphabet

Peter Broglie

Agatha Christie knew her poisons. Written by a former research chemist, A is for Arsenic examines 14 of the toxic substances featured in Christie’s mysteries.


Dianne Timblin

There are almost 2,000 species of fireflies, and Tufts University biologist Sara Lewis’s fascination with the creatures is so captivating that readers may want to learn about them all.

Coexisting with Wildfire

Max A. Moritz, Scott Gabriel Knowles

Promoting the right kind of fire—and smarter development—is safer and more cost-effective than fighting a losing battle.

G. Evelyn Hutchinson’s Exultation in Natural History

Laura J. Martin

The ecologist most remembered for bringing experimental work to a largely observational field nevertheless loved and promoted organismal description.

Past Stoplight Sequences

A Constructive Chemical Conversation

Alison Grinthal, Wim L. Noorduin, Joanna Aizenberg

Precisely timed series of interventions lead to the growth of a variety of complex, three-dimensional microscale structures.

The Art and Science of Solar Eclipses

Richard Woo

After 150 years of expeditions, we have finally arrived at a definitive understanding of the corona revealed by solar eclipses.

Poetry for the Apocalypse

Michael Leong

Bestselling poet Christian Bök has worked on this groundbreaking project for more than a decade, collaborating with scientists and studying the science himself from the ground up, in order to create what may be considered the first “living poetry.”


Katie L. Burke

In this roundup, digital features editor Katie L. Burke summarizes notable recent developments in scientific research, selected from reports compiled in the free electronic newsletter Sigma Xi SmartBrief. Online:

Reducing Vehicle Emissions

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