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Features

Catastrophic Releases of Radioactivity

The gravest conceivable accident to a nuclear reactor is far less destructive than the detonation of a nuclear weapon, even if it is imagined that the weapon causes harm only by radiation

By Kosta Tsipis and Steven A. Fetter

A Unified Theory of Elementary Particles and Forces

At a range of 10-29 centimeter the world may be a simple place, with just one kind of elementary particle and one important force. If the proposed unified theory is correct, all matter is unstable

By Howard Georgi

Speech Recognition by Computer

Designing a machine that listens is much more difficult than making one that speaks. Significant improvements in automatic recognition may come only with a better understanding of human speech patterns

By Mark Y. Liberman and Stephen E. Levinson

The Origin of Genetic Information

Laws governing natural selection of prebiotic molecules have been inferred and tested, making it possible to discover how early RNA genes interacted with proteins and how the genetic code developed

By Manfred Eigen, Peter Schuster, Ruthild Winkler-Oswatitsch and William Gardiner

The Shells of Novas

A nova (as distinct from a supernova) is a white-dwarf star that blows off a shell when a companion spills fresh nuclear fuel on it. The shell's spectrum is a clue to what happened

By Robert E. Williams

Filter-Feeding Insects

Insects of three orders hatch underwater and gather food with nets, brushes and other fine-mesh filters. They play a role in opposing the tendency of ecological systems to lose organic matter downhill

By Richard W. Merritt and J. Bruce Wallace

Ancient Oared Warships

The city-states of classical Greece deployed Beets of swifi ramming galleys equipped with as many as three banks of oars. These vessels later evolved into huge weapons platforms with thousands of rowers

By Vernard Foley and Werner Soedel

Lithium and Mania

How is it that salts of lithium have a beneficial effect on people in a pathologically manic state? Clues to the answer may be found in the ways the lithium ion moves through the membranes of cells

By Daniel C. Tosteson

Departments

  • 50 and 100 Years Ago, April 1981

  • Science and the Citizen, April 1981

  • Letters

    Letters to the Editors, April 1981

  • Recommended

    Books, April 1981

  • Mathematical Recreation

    Mathematical Games, April 1981

  • Amateur Scientist

    The Amateur Scientist, April 1981

  • Departments

    The Authors, April 1981

  • Bibliography, April 1981

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April 1981

Think Outside the Gift Box