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On the Cover

May-June 2007 Volume 95, Number 3

The brilliant colors of the Cargill salt ponds fringing San Francisco Bay are created by a complex ecosystem. Water from the bay is pumped in, then shuttled from pond to pond as it evaporates to leave behind solid salt, a process that takes about five years. ...


FEATURE ARTICLES

Liquid-Mirror Telescopes

Paul Hickson

An old idea for astronomical imaging is undergoing a technology-driven renaissance


Extreme Microbes

Shiladitya DasSarma

Salt-loving microorganisms are helping biologists understand the unifying features of life and molecular secrets of survival under extreme conditions


Soot: Giver and Taker of Light

Christopher Shaddix, Timothy Williams

The complex structure of soot greatly influences the optical effects seen in fires


The Uniqueness of Human Recursive Thinking

Michael Corballis

The ability to think about thinking may be the critical attribute that distinguishes us from all other species


The Most Dangerous Equation

Howard Wainer

Ignorance of how sample size affects statistical variation has created havoc for nearly a millennium


SCIENTISTS’ BOOKSHELF

A Passion for Precision

Ken Alder

A review of Measuring the World, by Daniel Kehlmann. Translated from the German by Carol Brown Janeway. This historical novel tells the life stories of Alexander von Humboldt and Carl Friedrich Gauss in alternating chapters, revealing how their two lives became entangled and then drifted apart

See all book reviews for this issue.


DEPARTMENTS

COMPUTING SCIENCE

Fat Tails

Brian Hayes

Sometimes the average is anything but average

MACROSCOPE

Open Access and the Progress of Science

Alma Swan

The power to transform research communication may be at each scientist's fingertips

SIGHTINGS

Dark Matter Comes to Light

Lars Lindberg Christensen, Richard J. Massey, Felice Frankel

Creating astronomy's first maps of this mysterious substance

MARGINALIA

Beatrix Potter, Conservationist

Keith Stewart Thomson

The author of Peter Rabbit was a complex woman whose quest for autonomy helped save a crucial part of the English countryside

ENGINEERING

Why Things Break *

Henry Petroski

Metal fatigue has long posed a challenge to engineers

SCIENCE OBSERVER

Neatness Counts

David Schneider

Messy computer code is normally frowned on—but not always

Fat Enough for Two Belts

Christopher R. Brodie

High-density lipoprotein makes itself into a double-belted nanodisk

In the News

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Your Number's Up

SIGMA XI TODAY (PDF)


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