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Features

The Geometric Phase

A circuit tracing a closed curve in an abstract space can explain both a curious shift in the wave function of a particle and an apparent rotation of a pendulum's plane of oscillation

By Michael Berry

Plasticity in Brain Development

The final wiring of the brain occurs after birth and is governed by early experience. A protein called MAP2 seems to take part in the molecular events that underlie the brain's ability to change

By Chiye Aoki and Philip Siekevitz

Science in Pictures: Patterned Ground

A common physical phenomenon shapes these uncommon manifestations of natural geometry

By William B. Krantz, Kevin J. Gleason and Nelson Caine

Fertilization in Mammals

The events that immediately precede and follow the fusion of sperm and egg must occur in a precise sequence. Surprisingly, a single molecule seems to have a crucial role at many points along the way

By Paul M. Wassarman

Soft-X-Ray Lasers

A quarter of a century after the appearance of the optical laser, experimental X-ray lasers have begun to produce beams with wavelengths 100 times shorter than those of visible light

By Dennis L. Matthews and Mordecai D. Rosen

Snakes, Blood Circulation and Gravity

When a snake climbs or rears up, its cardiovascular system must resist strong pressure gradients. These effects of gravity explain why the circulatory system of a tree snake differs from that of a sea snake

By Harvey B. Lillywhite

Canal Builders of Pre-Inca Peru

The engineers of Chimor built canals to carry water from rivers to fields as much as 70 kilometers away.In the end they were defeated by relentless geologie forces

By Charles R. Ortloff

Departments

  • 50 and 100 Years Ago: December 1988

  • After Discovery ...

  • Fertility Rites

  • Radon Retried

  • The Cygnet Turns Phoenix

  • Theory-Resistant

  • Factoring Googols

  • High Rate of Return

  • Electronic Ark

  • Unscientific Americans

  • Embryonic Questions

  • Memories of Mother

  • Ghost in the Machine

  • Physics

  • Chemistry

  • Physiology or Medicine

  • Managing Solid Waste

  • Disequilibrium

  • One for the Road

  • A Different Engine?

  • Books, December 1988

  • Tropical-forest species: going, going, going ...

  • Letters

    Letters to the Editors, December 1988

  • Amateur Scientist

    The Amateur Scientist, December 1988

  • Departments

    Computer Recreations, December 1988

  • Annual Index, 1988

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