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On the Cover

January-February 1998 Volume 86, Number 1

A wistful gleam appears on the face of an elderly woman when she is asked how life has changed since she was a young girl. Ninety years old and still working in her field when the photograph was made in the 1970s, she was an expert on local medicinal plants. ...


FEATURE ARTICLES

Solving Polynomials with Computers *

Victor Pan

Speedy computer algorithms offer new answers to a mathematical problem as ancient as Babylon: finding the zeros, or roots, of high-degree polynomials


Confronting the Boundaries of Human Longevity *

S. Jay Olshansky, Bruce Carnes, Douglas Grahn

Many people now live beyond their natural lifespans through the intervention of medical technology and improved lifestyles—a form of "manufactured time"


Sinkholes in Evaporite Rocks

Joseph Martinez, Kenneth Johnson, James Neal

Surface subsidence can develop within a matter of days when highly soluble rocks dissolve because of either natural or human causes


The Molecular Anatomy of an Ancient Adaptive Event

Antony Dean

Protein engineering identifies the structural basis of a 3.5 billion-year-old adaptation


Physiology of Helping in Florida Scrub-Jays *

Stephan Schoech

When these birds are young, they delay reproduction and help others raise their offspring. The hormone prolactin may influence that cooperation


* access restricted to members and subscribers


SCIENTISTS’ BOOKSHELF

Re-examining the Givens: Testing Our Theories of the World

Marshall Specter

A review of Boundaries and Barriers: On the Limits to Scientific Knowledge, edited by John L. Casti and Anders Karlqvist.

See all book reviews for this issue.


FEATURE ARTICLES

COMPUTING SCIENCE

The Invention of the Genetic Code

Brian Hayes

Some ingenious hypothetical codes of the 1950s

MACROSCOPE

Scientists, Scholars, Knaves and Fools

Edward O. Wilson

Reflections on the scientific enterprise

MARGINALIA

Crystal-Cloudy, Crystal-Clear

Roald Hoffmann

Sense and sublimity in crystal structure

ENGINEERING

John Scott Russell*

Henry Petroski

Late praise for an underappreciated naval architect

SCIENCE OBSERVER

Interview: Steven Chu

Mike May

A conversation with the propounder of "optical molasses"

FROM THE PRESIDENT


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