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Published in PDF format, each anthology includes 70+ pages and is priced at $9.99
  • Conquering Garbage

    Conquering Garbage

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  • Polio: Pushed to the Brink

    Polio: Pushed to the Brink

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    WHEN I BEGAN MY CAREER IN PUBLIC HEALTH in the 1960s, poliomyelitis was one of the most feared diseases in the world. Even just 25 years ago the virus infected more than 350,000 people, causing paralysis and irreversible disfigurement.

    Thanks to vaccines and a tremendous international effort, today that number is down to just a few hundred cases globally. Still, for every person who shows the characteristic signs and symptoms of polio, 100 or more individuals carry the virus and can spread the disease without their knowledge. And the areas where polio remains are among the most remote and unstable corners of the planet. The road before us isn’t easy, but we cannot rest until polio is truly and completely wiped out for good.

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  • Determining the Age of the Earth

    Determining the Age of the Earth

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    Aristotle thought the Earth had existed eternally. Roman poet Lucretius, intellectual heir to the Greek atomists, believed its formation must have been relatively recent, given that there were no records going back beyond the Trojan War. The Talmudic rabbis, Martin Luther and others used the biblical account to extrapolate back from known history and came up with rather similar estimates for when the earth came into being. The most famous came in 1654, when Archbishop James Ussher of Ireland offered the date of 4004 b.c.

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  • Our Solar System

    Our Solar System

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    “Where we know nothing we may speculate without fear of contradiction.” With these words, written in Scientific American in 1909, English ­astronomer F. W. Henkel, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, described without apparent embarrassment much of the culture of astronomy a century ago. It was an era when experts used very limited data to make all-encompassing claims about the formation and evolution of the solar system, the existence of a planet called Vulcan and the ­presence of life on other planets.

    Captivating, but ultimately incorrect, ideas about our solar system are evident in many of the early Scientific American articles gathered in this special issue. More recent articles, we would like to think, present more robust claims, because they are based on something rather than nothing. Together this collection illustrates, wonderfully, how the science of astronomy has evolved over the past 150 years.

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  • The Quest for the Periodic Table

    The Quest for the Periodic Table

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    THE PERIODIC TABLE OF THE ELEMENTS is one of the most important developments in modern science, although it dates from the 1860s. In addition to unifying a huge variety of chemical and physical phenomena, it contributed significantly to the development of atomic physics and eventually to the theory of quantum mechanics.

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  • Science Behind Your Health

    Science Behind Your Health

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    Throw the word "health" at Google, and you will retrieve, as I write this, about 958 million results. Alternatively, if you feel up to reading them, you could directly consult the medical journals for information; the National Library of Medicine's MEDLINE service indexes about 5,000 of them. If you are into health and fitness magazines, you probably have more than 100 of those to choose from. Clearly, a world of health information is out there and readily available if you want it. The problem is one of navigating through it to worthy destinations. Finding your way to relevant, trustworthy information, presented in terms that are not only understandable but appealing to your interests, is still a challenge.

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  • Secrets of the Senses

    Secrets of the Senses

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    Imagine what it must be like. In a condition called synesthesia, senses blend, with exotic effects. Each number may evoke its own color, and flavors can mingle with shapes--in one instance letting a man tell that a roasted chicken was done, because it tasted "pointy." In their article, "Hearing Colors, Tasting Shapes," Vilayanur S. Ramachandran and Edward M. Hubbard describe how synesthesia has yielded insights into how the brain processes complex sensory inputs.

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  • Becoming Human

    Becoming Human

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    A savvy handicapper would never have put money on the continued existence of this evolutionary dark horse. Nearly hairless, weak--no sharp claws or slicing teeth here--and slow, with a bumpy bipedal gait, humans might initially appear to be one of the unlikeliest survivors on earth. Except for the oversize brains.

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  • Frontiers of Physics

    Frontiers of Physics

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    Things get weird - spectacularly so - at the borderlands of physics. The rarefied realms described mathematically and sometimes glimpsed in experiments are all the more extraordinary for not being the mere products of someone's hyperactive imagination.

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  • New Answers for Cancer

    New Answers for Cancer

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    Nearly 40 years since we declared war on cancer, how goes the campaign against this intractable and ancient adversary? As you will learn in this special edition, our enemy intelligence has improved over the years, enabling us to get a better bead on where the trouble begins. And we have developed stronger weapons, to more precisely pursue and annihilate diseased tissue.

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  • The Rise of Nanotech

    The Rise of Nanotech

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    If our civilization should someday collapse, then-—with apologies to McDonald's—let this be its epitaph: "Billions and billions served." Humanity has come a long way from its hunter-gatherer roots. Thanks to industrial-age agricultural production, global commerce and the 20th century's green revolution in farming, the world can support billions of people who once would not have found enough to eat. But goodness, look what we're feeding them.

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  • Civil War Innovations

    Civil War Innovations

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    Any Civil War buff is familiar with the technological advances of that era: the carnage caused when tactics failed to accommodate breech-loading rifled muskets and artillery pieces, the truly revolutionary introduction of armored ships and railroad networks, and the merely tantalizing deployment of submerged warships and reconnaissance balloons. Historians still argue about the extent to which the Civil War was the first "modern" war, but it is impossible to deny that the technology with which it was fought foretold the ways in which future wars would become bigger, bloodier and more devastating. Fewer people realize, however, that a similar explosion in technological creativity occurred away from the battlefield.

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  • Hidden Mind

    Hidden Mind

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    At the start of the new millennium, it is apparent that one question towers above all others in life sciences: How does the set of processes we call mind emerge from the activity of the organ we call brain? The question is hardly new. It has been formulated in one way or another for centuries. Once it became possible to pose the question and not be burned at the stake, it has been asked openly and insistently. Recently the question has preoccupied both the experts neuroscientists, cognitive scientists and philosophers and others who wonder about the origin of the mind, specifically the conscious mind.

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  • A New Look at Human Evolution

    A New Look at Human Evolution

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    It's quite a tale. Perhaps five million to 10 million years ago, a primate species diverged from the chimpanzee line. This was the forerunner of humanity—and a host of other beings who were almost but not quite human. For a time, a throng of hominid species shared the planet; at least four even coexisted in the same region. By around four million years ago, our progenitors and others had mastered the art of walking upright. Some two million years later they strode out of Africa and colonized entirely new lands. Certain groups learned to make sophisticated tools and, later, artwork and musical instruments. The various species clashed, inevitably. Modern humans, who entered Europe 40,000 years ago, may have slaughtered Neandertals (when they weren't interbreeding with them). Eventually only one species, Homo sapiens, was left. We thus find ourselves alone and yet the most numerous and successful primates in history.

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  • Birth of Flight

    Birth of Flight

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    In this collection of Scientific American articles published at the turn of the last century, observations and reports about experiments with flying machines nearly vibrate with anticipation. The writers know that powered, controlled flight, "effected by means of an apparatus heavier than the air," will happen soon. What they don't know is who will do it, or how, or when.

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  • Reality-Bending Black Holes

    Reality-Bending Black Holes

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    Black holes curve the fabric of spacetime so extremely that it rends. The superdense objects devour anything--even light--that strays too close, a trip from which there is no escape. Perhaps their most singular power, however, is their hold on our imagination. Learning more about these implacable gluttons offers the same shivery frisson as watching a stalking horror-movie creature while knowing we are safe in our cushioned seats.

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  • The Titanic and Age of the Transatlantic Steamship

    The Titanic and Age of the Transatlantic Steamship

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    One hundred years ago, during the night of April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic collided with an iceberg, and in the small hours of the next day went down into the cold Atlantic Ocean with the loss of 1,517 lives.

    There have been worse tragedies in history. Some were more violently spectacular, some still govern the daily routines of the survivors. Yet the Titanic disaster has strongly resonated with us for a century. Why? Because it is a tale of humanity as classic as a Greek tragedy. The story has been told and retold for the past century in movies, books, songs and magazine articles. Even James Cameron made a film using the Titanic saga as a backdrop.

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  • Polar Exploration

    Polar Exploration

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    An era of breathless anticipation came to an end on March 7, 1912, when Roald Amundsen landed in Tasmania and sent telegrams announcing that he and his team of Antarctic explorers had reached the South Pole on December 14, 1911. Just weeks after that historic announcement on or about March 29, 1912 Amundsen's one-time rival for this feat of geographic primacy, Robert Falcon Scott, and the last surviving members of his five-man team perished on the windswept snow of the Ross Ice Shelf, although news of Scott's death did not reach the outside world until months later.

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  • Your Sexual Brain

    Your Sexual Brain

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    How deluded we are. We believe that, with our seemingly all-knowing consciousness, we are masters of our own domain (as Jerry Seinfeld so colorfully put it). In reality, as you will learn in this special issue, the imperatives and influences of sex, the sexes and sexuality all subconsciously shape our behavior in countless ways.

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