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On the Cover

November-December 2011 Volume 99, Number 6

Algae frequently are heralded as future feedstocks for biofuels, alternatives to the fossil fuels that so much of the world depends on even though their combustion keeps pumping greenhouse gases into Earth's atmosphere. ...


FEATURE ARTICLES

Empirical Software Engineering

Greg Wilson, Jorge Aranda

As researchers investigate how software gets made, a new empire for empirical research opens up


Making Biofuel from Microalgae

Philip T. Pienkos, Lieve Laurens, Andy Aden

So much potential coexists with so many scientific, environmental and economic challenges


Whatever Became of Holography?

Sean F. Johnston

The once-futuristic technology has less public glamour nowadays, but it still plays a current role in science


SCIENTISTS’ BOOKSHELF

The Geography of Illness

Christopher Hamlin

A review of Disease Maps: Epidemics on the Ground, by Tom Koch. Koch’s chronological review of the practice of medical mapping shows that its flourishing in the 19th century involved a reconceptualization of disease as essentially and not merely incidentally spatial. The book is beautifully produced, says Hamlin, with fascinating maps, but it is less substantive than it should be

See all book reviews for this issue.


DEPARTMENTS

FROM THE EDITOR

Building Themes

American Scientist approaches its centenary

David Schoonmaker

MACROSCOPE

Lessons of the Lost

Amphibians are all but gone, bequeathing us lessons that must not be squandered

Joseph R. Mendelson III

COMPUTING SCIENCE

An Adventure in the Nth Dimension

On the mystery of a ball that fills a box, but vanishes in the vastness of higher dimensions

Brian Hayes

ENGINEERING

Moving Obelisks*

Second millennium B.C. Egyptian stone monuments have been the subject of considerable engineering ingenuity

Henry Petroski

MARGINALIA

The Rarest Snail in the World

Do development and scientific study conflict with conservation?

Pat Shipman

ETHICS

Raising Scientific Experts

Competing interests threaten the scientific record, but courage and sound judgment can help

Nancy L. Jones

SLIDE SHOW

Large-Format Science

Some of our favorite coffee-table books from 2011 are the stars of this slide show

Anna Lena Phillips

SIGHTINGS

Narrowing In on Negawatts

A new MIT system "sees" radiant energy leaks in buildings

Catherine Clabby

SCIENCE OBSERVER

Power Gets Hot

Improved materials help convert waste heat into electricity

Fenella Saunders

Crowdsourcing Gender Equity

Ada Lovelace Day, and its companion website, aims to raise the profile of women in science and technology

Anna Lena Phillips

An Unexpected Debut for Wood

Evidence suggests its first role involved water, not structural support

Catherine Clabby

In the News

LETTERS TO THE EDITORS

Date Distinctions

Where Will Driverless Cars Take Us?

Transparent Engineering

Alone, Indeed

SIGMA XI TODAY (PDF)

WHITE PAPER

Team Science: Heaving Walls & Melding Silos

A Sigma Xi white paper, discussing the intricacies of Team Science and how it pertains to science, society and Sigma Xi today and toward the future.


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