Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 11:01 am
Of the 100 "top science stories for 2012" chosen by Discover Magazine, I am most fascinated by #42: "The Myth of Choosy Women, Promiscuous Men." It reports a serious challenge to an experiment that has remained a touchstone in evolutionary biology for over 50 years.
Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 11:26 am
When the 20-inch gas pipeline next to Interstate 77 in West Virginia first ruptured on Tuesday, nobody at pipeline operator, Columbia Gas Transmission, knew it.
Now, the National Transportation Safety Board is trying to find out why. NTSB member Robert Sumwalt says no warning went off in the operating company's control center in nearby Charleston, so investigators are going there to interview staffers and review data.
The giant sequoia is a snow tree, says scientist Steve Sillett, adapted for long winters in the Sierra Nevada. But it's a fire tree, too. Thick bark protects it from burning in lightning-caused fires, which open cones and clear the understory, allowing saplings to find light and prosper.
Credit Michael Nichols / National Geographic
Cloaked in the snows of California's Sierra Nevada, the 3,200-year-old giant sequoia called the President rises 247 feet. Two other sequoias have wider trunks, but none has a larger crown, say the scientists who climbed it. The figure at top seems taller than the other climbers because he's standing forward on one of the great limbs.
Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 4:09 pm
As the peak of the holiday season draws near, Latin Roots explores some sizzling renditions of well-known Christmas classics. Most people are familiar with the traditional "Little Drummer Boy," but many have yet to enjoy a very popular Cuban version of the song, interpreted by the band Los Papines. The band, commonly known as the "Kings of Rumba," uses deep, percussive sounds to tell the story of a child's perspective of the holiday season.
Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 12:08 pm
2012 has been a jittery year, what with the presidential election, extreme weather events and, now, the looming "fiscal cliff." Not surprisingly, many of my favorite books told stories, imagined and real, about people who felt like they didn't have a clue what hit them.
Egyptian clerics from Al-Azhar University hold a national flag as they shout support for President Mohammed Morsi and a new constitution at a rally in Cairo on Dec. 1. Secular and Islamist Egyptians disagree on the constitution, which critics say gives too much power to the clerics of Al-Azhar, the seat of Sunni Islam learning.
Egyptians are deeply divided over a draft constitution that will be put to a nationwide referendum starting Saturday. The document was drafted by an assembly dominated by Islamists. Most secular members of the panel, along with women and Christian representatives, walked out in protest before the draft was complete.
Critics say the draft gives key Islamic scholars too much power on a broad range of legislative issues, but it's still unclear what that would mean in practice.