Picks

Digital Diffraction

I've always thought that optical transforms were a great model for the determination of crystal structures using X-ray diffraction, and I've used the ICE (Institute for Chemical Education) kit for this exercise many times.

A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper

John Allen Paulos is author of another book that you may have read or heard about, "Innumeracy", in which he describes the decline in the ability of Americans to perform simple mathematics, even arithmetic. In "A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper", he provides some of the reasons why mathematics is important to everyday life.

The National Science Education Standards

Well, the final version of the National Science Education Standards has finally arrived. If you are involved in curriculum planning for your school or district, or if you want to study the document in detail, you can buy a copy for $19.95 + 4.00 shipping from the National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW, Lockbox 285, Washington DC 20055 [1-800-624-6242].

Silent Sperm

In the novel "The Children of Men" by P. D. James, set in the year 2021, mankind is faced with extinction due to the worldwide sterility of human males. Is there a basis for fear that this is actually happening? Or is the reported decline in sperm counts, over the past half-century, even a fact?

The Gravel Page

The forensic sciences have received a great deal of attention lately, partly as a result of the OJ trial, but in this lengthy piece, the fine writer, John McPhee, writes about the far less-familiar field of forensic geology.

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology

In Culver City, California, David Wilson operates The Museum of Jurassic Technology. There, the visitor learns that the breath of a duck will cure children of fungal infections of the mouth, and that bedwetting is curable by "eating a mouse on toast, fur and all".