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On the Cover

September-October 2011 Volume 99, Number 5

Synthetic materials will eventually crack as they are pulled, pressed or twisted during everyday wear and tear. ...


FEATURE ARTICLES

Tardigrades

William R. Miller

These ambling, eight-legged microscopic “bears of the moss” are cute, ubiquitous, all but indestructible and a model organism for education


Self-healing Polymers and Composites *

Scott R. White, Benjamin J. Blaiszik, Sharlotte L. B. Kramer, Solar C. Olugebefola, Jeffrey S. Moore, Nancy R. Sottos

Capsules, circulatory systems and chemistry allow materials to fix themselves


Urbanism on West Africa’s Slave Coast

J. Cameron Monroe

Archaeology sheds new light on cities in the era of the Atlantic slave trade


* access restricted to members and subscribers


SCIENTISTS’ BOOKSHELF

Bird Bonding

Sarah Kocher

A review of The Nesting Season: Cuckoos, Cuckolds, and the Invention of Monogamy, by Bernd Heinrich. As he describes each step of the nesting process from mate selection through the fledging of nestlings, Heinrich interweaves his own observations of birds with the latest scientific findings and ponders why birds parent their young in so many different ways

See all book reviews for this issue.


DEPARTMENTS

FROM THE EDITOR

Forward Into the Past

American Scientist is now available at JSTOR

David Schoonmaker

MACROSCOPE

From Research to Reality

To understand her son’s birth defect, a mother makes an emotional and scientific journey

Katherine Willmore

COMPUTING SCIENCE

Leave the Driving to It

How would lives and landscapes change if every car had a computer in the driver’s seat?

Brian Hayes

ENGINEERING

Silver Bridge*

Disaster helps usher in the modern era of bridge inspection and maintenance

Henry Petroski

MARGINALIA

That's Interesting

Curiosity drives discovery. But what, exactly, makes us curious?

Roald Hoffmann

ETHICS

Digitizing the Coin of the Realm

Electronic publication has transformed the culture of scientific communication

Francis L. Macrina

SIGHTINGS

Where Art and Science Meet

Painter Peter Trusler and paleontologists Patricia Vickers-Rich and Thomas H. Rich collaborate to bring long-extinct species to life on the page

Catherine Clabby

SCIENCE OBSERVER

A Fish of an Idea

Analyzing swimming schools of fish inspired a California biophysicist to try to improve the performance of wind turbines

Catherine Clabby

In the News

LETTERS TO THE EDITORS

Varied and Inhospitable

Porphyria Perspective

Demolition Time Line

N-gram Insight

Intelligent Tinkering

SIGMA XI TODAY (PDF)


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