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On the Cover

March-April 2002 Volume 90, Number 2

Hiding among the thousands of newborn stars in the heart of the Orion Nebula (M42) are untold numbers of "free-floating planets"—planet-sized bodies unattached to a parent star. The recent discovery of about 15 free-floating planets within the Trapezium region (the four bright stars near the center of the image) and at least two dozen more in other dense stellar clusters has unsettled the astronomical community and raised questions about the nature of planets and how they might form. ...


FEATURE ARTICLES

Manatees, Bioacoustics and Boats

Edmund Gerstein

Hearing tests, environmental measurements and acoustic phenomena may together explain why boats and animals collide


Free-Floating Planets and Stellar Clusters *

Jarrod Hurley, Michael Shara

Scientists have been looking for planets in strange places, far from their parent stars, within some of the densest star clusters in the Galaxy


Adaptive Radiation of Darwin's Finches *

B. Rosemary Grant, Peter Grant

Recent data help explain how this famous group of Galapagos birds evolved, although gaps in our understanding remain


Computers, Paradoxes and the Foundations of Mathematics *

Gregory Chaitin

Some great thinkers of the 20th century have shown that even in the austere world of mathematics, incompleteness and randomness are rife


The Rise and Fall of Rudist Reefs *

Claudia Johnson

Reefs of the dinosaur era were dominated not by corals but by odd mollusks, which died off at the end of the Cretaceous from causes yet to be discovered


* access restricted to members and subscribers


SCIENTISTS’ BOOKSHELF

Smallpox, Then and Now

Robert L. Dorit

A review of Pox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775û82, by Elizabeth A. Fenn, and Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox, by Jonathan B. Tucker

See all book reviews for this issue.


DEPARTMENTS

COMPUTING SCIENCE

The Easiest Hard Problem

Brian Hayes

The number partitioning problem, or how to choose up sides for a ball game

MACROSCOPE

Is String Theory Even Wrong?

Peter Woit

A skeptical physicist refuses to hop on the bandwagon

MARGINALIA

No One Checked: Natural Arsenic in Wells

Philip Morrison, Phylis Morrison

In Bangladesh, a public poison counters public-health improvements

ENGINEERING

The Civil Engineer: On the occasion of a sesquicentennial *

Henry Petroski

Reflections on the 150th anniversary of the American Society of Civil Engineers

SCIENCE OBSERVER

Big Screen, Big Science

David Schneider

The impact of IMAX

Diogenes' New Lamp

Rebecca Sloan Slotnick

The neuroscience of lies

Postcards from the Edge

Michael Szpir

An intellectual sandbox on the Web

FROM THE PRESIDENT


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