P. p.48

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Philosophers and scientists grapple with the mysteries of human consciousness.

How synthetic biology will improve human life in the near future. Plus: the safety issues.


Meet eight outrageous deep-sea giants and explore the source of their unusual size.

IIBeing large has its advantages-large animals have fewer enemies than small ones and can travel

much faster to a food source," p.30

A look at the development of butterflies and moths, from egg to caterpillar to pupa to adult.

MonThly forecasts finally become a reality, thanks to a novel way to predict the weather.

These international spacecraft are paving the way for man ned missions to the moon.



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Ca moufiaged sea horses, bri Ilia ntly colored bra i n cells, a robotic ridshaw, and the fibers that help you hear-all in this month's gallery of amazing images.

Science Update


Earrings with history, a heavy-duty blimp, the first nuclear family, a cool way to trap CO~ real animal magnetism, and King Iut's lost children,



How did roars turn into smiles? Why does boiling make lobsters bright red? Why does sunl ight cause sneezing' How does gravity bend light?

World of Science


Life in high (and low) places, optical illusions explained, a 180-foot worm, what tints snow red, and other nuggets of scientific knowledge.


Trivia Countdown Brain Trainers

p.8 p.82 p.88


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Letters lettersessclenceillustreted.com

Taking Stock

I recently received my first issue of Scitrlce mustrated, and the first thing that stood out was the high-quality paper it is printed on. It was as substantial and as readable as the articles. Great job!

DaveFreriks Lubbock,Tex.

Universal Speed Limit

How can the universe be 13.7 billion years old if the farthest edges of the visible universe are more than 46 billion light-years away ['What Is the Universe?" March/April]?

Rick Cowperthwaite Santa Rosa, Cal if.

EDS: The apparent age of the universe is 13.7 billion years old. But in the years that it took for the light from the oldest stars to reach Ea rt h, th e universe has cant i n u ed to expand. The rate of that expansion may even be accelerating-a possibility that must be taken into account when calculating the current size of the universe.

International Affair

I was wondering why "Bug Bites Forecast WarlIling~ [Science Update,


2 Park Ave., \lth FI. New York, NY 1001'6 Pax: ;1 1 )-779-5 1 OS

Web: sctenceittustroted.com

Mar.lApr.] says only that the pinebeetle epidemic is killing trees throughout the western U.S., when there is also devastation in Canada.

Sally Jasper Alberta, Canada

EDS: Good point. In fact, Canad ian provinces have seen more damage from the pine beetle than American states. British Columbia alone lost more than 33 million acres as of 2.007.

Imaginary Lines

In Ask Us, [lanunryiPebrnary], you stated that the highest mountain in Europe is Mont Blanc, at 15,771 feet.

I believe the answer should be 18,510- foot Mount Elbrus, which is located in Russia near the borde}" of Europe and Asia in the Caucasus mountain range.

Doug and Ben Lowson Greensburg, Pa.

EDS: There is some debate on this, stemming from disagreement over whether the Caucasus range-including Mount Elbrus-is located in Europe or Asia.

Interior Decorations

Your story on the 11,OOO-year-old oldest known wall art recently discovered in Syria [Science Update, [an.Feb.] seems to conflict with 13,000- to 15,000-year-old cave paintings in Spain ]~How Did

Humans Develop?" Jan.lFeb.]. Which is correct?

Chris Russell Greensboro, N.C.

EDS: The wall art in Syria is the oldest known decoration of a man-made wall, whereas Spain's prehistoric paintings are fashioned on a natural surface. According to Briana Pobiner of the Smithson ian I nsutution the oldest example of cave art, located in southern france, actually dates back approximately 32,000 years.


Pleas.€ send Jette rs to ~h e ed itor to I ette rs@Sciem::eillu5trated.com, We regret that we ca nnor

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Editor-in-Chief Marl< Jannot C'e.tiv" Di ",<10' Sam Syed Deputy Editc. Jacob Word

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Staff Editor< Lauren Aaronson, Doug Cantor Sean Captain, Bjorn Olrey, Nicole Dyer, Seth Fletcher, Mike Ha n ey, Susa n no 11 F. Locke, Dawn Slover Fa<t Checke rs Brooke Bo rei, Melynda Fuller, Erika Villan i

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Contribut in 9 Writers Hen rl k Bendix. Kim Bentzen, Jesper Bind ,low, Seren Bjam-Hansen, Tin. Frederiksen, Peter Gcndelach, UII. Hest, The. Mikkelsen. Stine Overby", Go rm Palmg re n, Ole Prssskom, Anders Priem e, Helene Ro,en st. nd, Helle SIU b, Hen ri k Stub, tars Th om."

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Could Quicklime Help Cool the Planet?

II! ij i & tJ i if Seawater naturally absorbs two bill ion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year-more than a quarter of the COl produced by humans annually. Now, Tim Kruger, founder of the English start-up Cquestrate, is hoping to increase the oceans' carbon-capturing potential.

Cquestrares plan harnesses heat from sunlight or other sources to decompose limestone. The process produces quirklirne, which is dumped into the ocean. When quicklime dissolves there, it sequesters COl dissolved in the water, allowing the ocean to absorb more of the greenhouse 9'215.

i ~ .. : 1-1 : kI University of OKford research ers recently found that playing Tetris soon aftef seeing i mag es of disfig tired corpses reduced vo funteers'f1ashbacks one week later, The videogame-anengrossing visua I activity-d isp laced the intrusive imagery during memory processing.


Facing Upto Differences

I Xii!: t,j N!i.., People ever)IINhere are able to quickly recognize whether a face is fa miliar or not, but according to new research, how they do it has to do with where they're from. Roberto Caldara, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, and his colleagues recently analyzed the eye movements of student volunteers from Western Europe and East Asia as the students were presented with images of faces. The volunteers who carne from England, France and Germany tended to concentrate on the eyes and the mouth, whereas volunteers from China and Japan, who had a II spent a week or lsss in Scotland, mostly looked at noses.

Caldara believes that social and cultural norms may have an unexpected influence. Eye contact, an irnportant part of communication in Western SOCieties, is considered improper

in many Asian cultures. But"gaze avoidance is only one of the possible explanations,"Caldara says. Different cultures may actua I'ly process facial information differently. People from East Asian cultures may have a more holistic, or full-face, approach than Westerners, who may visually break up the face into localized areas. Caldara plans to test the theory by studyinghow face recog-nition is processed in the brain among diverse cultures.


Ancient Greeks Upstaged

century B.c. and perhaps as early as the second millennium B.C No substantial written works from the Thracians survive today, however, so much less has been uncovered about their accomplishments than that of the Greeks during the same period. But in recent years, digs have revealed a rich and advanced cultu re whose impressive metalworking and rock-cut tombs and monuments are comparable to those of ancient Greece. The Romans eventually overthrew Thrace, explains

Maya Vassileva, a professor at the

Bu Igarian Academy of SCiences Center forThracology, making it a province by AD. 45.

1Lt..IJu.;;u1.l.a.l.~ ... :.a. An 1,SOO"year-old pair of finely wroug ht gold earrings is among the growing collection of artifacts from the Thracian civilization, whose advancements historians now say may have rivaled the ancient Greeks. The earrings, along with a seven-centuries-older bronze ring and other personal effects, were uncovered last year by Georgi Kitov, a Bulgarian archaeologist who died in September. The finds were made during an excavation of a burial mound near the town of Krushare, located 185 miles east of Sofia,

Bulgaria's capital city.

Archaeologists have long known from Greek texts that the Tbradans were expert warriors who established themselves in the Bal kans sometime before the fifth

Thradan earrings recently excavated in

A Wearable Stress Test

Stress causes our muscles to involuntarily tense up. Belgian researchers in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute in Berlin have developed a new type of sensor that, when embedded in clothing, can register this tension.lt works by detecting electrical activity in the muscles. Developed for scientific stress tests, the technology may one day be used to measure physical stress at workplaces and optimize athletic performance. A movement-

detecting garment could also be adapted to make videogames more interactive.

Leatherbacks Follow the Currents

Researchers used radio signa Is to track the migration routes taken by 46 tagged leatherback turtle females in 2004, 2005 and 2007. Strong currents in 2007 sent the turtles slightly southward at faster speeds than in 2005,



The new storm was eventually absorbed by the Great Red Spot to its right.

Jupiter Changes Its Spots

';{jiit.W.MNi Jupiter's two enormous surface spots-actually massive spinning storms-have been playing a game of Chinese checkers for the past decade, swapping positions over time. That game got even more .interesting last year with the discovery of a th ird spot. Scientists believe that rapid chanqes to the planet's climate are causing this dash of the storms.

Jupiter'S Great !Red Spot {GRSjis a violent storm three times the size of Earth. A second storm, Red Spot Jr., appeared in 2000 and went on to cross paths twice with its larger counterpart Last February, amateur astronomers discovered a new, much smaller third spot on a collision course with GRS. By the summer, G'RS had absorbed it.

Scientists believe that the storms I ift up surface material. Su nl.ight may then trigger an unknown chemical reaction in the material, caUSing cloudy white storms to take on the dark red hue that gives the GRS its name.

By 2012, nearly 90 pe rce nt of New York City's water supply should be flowing through a $600-miUion state-ofthe-art ultraviolet-light treatment plant. This light-based approach to killing microbes, in which the water runs past UV bulbs, will eliminate or sign ificantly reduce the amount of chlorine and other potentially harmful chemical disinfectants used in current treatment plants.

Cows Have Animal Magnetism

j;![llND A German-Czech research team recently analyzed Gooqle Earth satellite images of 8.51 Q cows in more

tha n 300 herds scattered across six continents and came to a surprisinq conclusion Cattle consistently aLign with the magnetic north pole. The satellites took the images on different days and under different cond itions, so the scientists were able to determine that their alignment was independent of environmental factors like sun, wind and temperature.

The animals'behavior is caused by

magnetoreception, the researchers say, an ability to detect fluctuations in Earth's magnetic field Until now, a few rodents and certain bats were the only mammals known to use an internal compass, although scientists strongly suspect that dolphins and whales have this ability as well. Humans, wit'h their magnetite-laden nose bone, are also high on the list of potential mammalian magnetoreceptors

Why cows orient themselves wit'h the magnetic field is unknown, but navigation seems a plausible explanation,

The number of miles below Earth's surface that bacteria.have been found. Scientists discovered Desulforudis audaxviator, or "bold traveler" last October in a South African gold mine: The bacteria survive on sulfates for energy, making them the only known organisms that do not depend on other organisms for food or reproduction.

Is This King Tut's Daughter?

Recent blood-type analySiS by anthropologist Robert Connolly of the University of Liverpool in England shows that two stillborn fetuses fou nd in King T utankhamen's tomb in 1922 may have been the pharaoh's twin daughters by his wife (and half-sister) An khesenamen. The results of more-reliable DNA samples and CT scans by Egyptian resea rchers are expeded later this year.

I ~ It' : "" j : j.J Researchers at Du ke IJniversity say young song birds use m i rrOT neu rons to pick up songs from other bl rds. Primates are the only other animals that are known to have mirror neurons, which Ii re both when we watch an action and when we actually do it These neurons may allow us to mimic others without pra ctidng first.

The chip reads the saliva proteins that can ind;catea heart attack.

Lab-on-a-chip to Diagnose Heart Attacks

I &tt,wm IJ A few drops of saliva and less than 1 Q minutes' waiti ng time may soon be al:1 it takes to determine if a person has suffered a heart attack-or if they're at risk for one in the future.

University of Iexas researchers have developed a nano-blochip called Cardius that detects 32 proteins associated with atherosclerosis, inflammation, thrombosis and acute coronary syndrome, all indications

of heart attacks. Compared with the blood tests currently used, which analyze between only one and three proteins, the credit-card-size chip'S diagnoses were far faster, up to 10,000 as sensitive in clinical trials and Just as accurate. In the future, the chip could diagnose a heart attack before an ambulance reaches a 'hospital-more than an hour faster than hospitalbound laboratory tests. Clinical trials are now testing the chip'S efficacy in diagnosing less-severe heart attacks.


Sea Camp at Texas A&M University at Galveston is a little like taking a week-long science class in a bathing suit. Sea Campers, ages 10-18, study on research vessels, beaches, and in marshes. So, it you have a strong sense of adventure and love to learn in a fun-filled atmosphere, contact Sea Camp.

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What inspired these beautiful Gothic windows?


The Republic of San Morino, a tiny sovereign state in northeastern Italy, holds the distinction. Founded in A.D. 301 by Saint Marinusas a refuge forChristians escaping persecution from the Roman emperor Diocltrian, its system of government is the oldest In the world. Despite its size-just one tenth the area of New York City-it has retained its independence fot more than 1,700 years thanks to a tombination ofgeographic isolation, well-protected fortresses and powerful allies. After conquering Italy in 1797, Napo/eon respected San

Matino's independence.lta/yfollowed suit, confitming its sovereignty in the 1800s.

Why are boiled lobsters red?

Heat from cooking breaks down the proteins that provide the lobsters' usual blue-black or brown color, In a live lobster, these proteins hold onto and twist pigment molecules; this bent shape makes the typically red pigment turn blue. But when the lobster is cooked, the proteins fall apart letting the pigment revert to its natural red confiquratron.


How do trees in freezing climates survive?


Can a falling bullet kill someone?

Being fatally injured by a bullet fired into the air is so real a danger that some cities, like Chicago, Phoenix and Philadelphia, deploy gunfire-detection systems to catch celebratory shooters on hoi idays such as 'New Year's Eve and the Fourth of July.

A bullet shot upward can rise as high as two miles. As it falls, its vertical velocity will increase until terminal velocity, Of the balance between the force of gravity and air resistance, is achieved. Wind can alter the trajectory of the falling bullet. sometimes caUSing it to land miles from the shooter. It will hit the

earth at a velocity of 200 to 600 feet per second Falling bullets most often strike the 'head, making the practice of shooting into the air

a deadly one T'he UCLA Medical Center alone recorded 38 deaths and 80 injU'ries as a result of falling bullets between 1985 and 1992.

Why does sunlight make some people sneeze?

Researchers estimate that glancing at the sun causes sneezing in 20 to 33 percent of people. The phenomenon, called the photic sneeze reflex, most often occurs when a person goes from a place of lowlig'ht out into bright sun light How the reflex induces sneezing is not completely understood. One theory is that t'he optic nerve is stimulated when we look at the sun. The optic nerve and the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for setting off sneezes, are located dose together in the thalamus in the brain Itis

bel ieved that stimulation of the optic nerve may affect the trigeminal nerve next to it, resulting in a sneeze

Trees have adapted to prevent the formation of damaging ice crystals inside the vital cells of the xylem-the tree's core, which transports water and nutrients from the roots to the leaves-during the cold winter months.

A t the extreme end, Larix sibirica,

a type of 121 rch tree fou nd in northern Siberia, can withstand temperatures to -94'F, These trees would die, however, if suddenly exposed to this cold during the warmer growing season when their cells are full of water. As winter approaches, the larches stop all growth and empty

their cells of virtually all liquid Ice crystals then form only outside the tough cell walls, where they cannot darnaqe the cells' vu I nera blemterror parts,

Instead of discharging their water, trees such as oak, beech, elm, maple and ash produce a thick liquid with a very low freeZing point inside their cells, They can also make proteins to cover the nuclei that start ice formation, thereby blocking crysta I formation, These species have their limits, though. They can survive winter lows of Just -40°, because below this temperature, water can freeze even without ice nuclei.

In ,northern Russia, Siberian

larches dehydrate their cells to keep from freezing in the winter.


No beauty, but the monkfish's rib·free body provides good eating.

No. Like other vertebrates, fish have acquired adaptations in the number of bones they have, based on the needs of individual species. For example, the common carp can have between 70 and 135 bones, depend ing on the breed

The bones you most often come across when eating fish are ribs attached to the animal's backbone. These ribs lie between the muscles from the front to the tail of most bony fishes and provide support to the body and protection for vital organs inside the rib cage.

The monkfish has no ribs at all, an adaptation that allows it to lie flat on the sea bottom, where it lures prey fish into its large mouth. Its ample size (up to 55 inches long) and lack of pesky bones make it a popular food fish. Cut one lengthwise to the tail, and the monkfish yields two boneless filets.


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Chaos Made Clea

J t has been called the third great revolution of 20'h~centUly physics, after relativity and quantum theory. But how can something called chaos theory help you understand an orderly world? What practical things might it be good for? What, in fact, is chaos theory? Chaos takes you to the heart of chaos theory as it is understood today. Your guide is Cornell University Professor Steven Strogatz, author of Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos, the most widely used chaos theory textbook in America. In 24 thought-provoking lectures, he introduces you to a fascinating discipline that has more to do with your everyday life than you may realize.

Chaos theory-the science of systems whose behavior is sensitive to small changes in their initial conditions-affects nearly every field of human endeavor, from astronomy to business. Professor Strogatz shows you the importance of this field and how it has helpedus solve life's mysteries. You learn how chaos theory was discovered and investigate ideas such as the butterfly effect, iterated maps, and fractals. You also discover practical. applications of chaos in areas like encryption, medicine, and space mission design.

This course is one of The Great Courses; a noncredit recorded college lecture series from The Teaching Company. Award-winning professors of a wide array of subj ects in the sciences and the liberal arts have made more than 250 college-level courses that are available now on our website.





Taught by Professor Steven Strogatz, Cornell University

Lecture Titles

1. The Chaos Revolution

2. The Clockwork Universe 3_ From Clockwork to Chaos

4. Chaos Found and Lost Again

5. The Return of Chaos

6. Chaos as DisorderTh e Butterfly Effect

7. Picturing Chaos as Ord'erStrange Attractors

8. Animating Chaos as OrderIterated Maps

9. How Systems Turn Chaotic

10. Displaying How Systems Turn Chaotic

11. Un iversa I Featu res of the Ro ute 10 Chaos

12. Experimental Tests of the New Theory

13_ Fra.ctals-The Geometry

of Chaos

14. The Properties of Fractals

15. A New Concept of Di mension 16_ Fractals Around Us

17. Fractals Inside Us

18. Fractal Art

19. Embracing Chaos-

From Tao to Space Travel

20. Cloaking Messages with Chaos

21. Chaos in Health and Disease

22. Quantum Chaos

23. Synchronization

24. The Future of Science

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Course No. 1333

241'edures (30 minutes/lecture)

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arty years after America beat Russia to the moon, the race is on once again to send another

round of astronauts there, 111e U.S. intends to take the lead again with human missions starting by 2018, and a lunar base could follow. Russia, Europe and the new kids on the hlock=-China, India and japan - have their eyes on the moon, too, with plans to either build their own bases or join the U.S. effort.

To prepare for this new era of lunar exploration, the U.S. and other countries are sending a flotilla of unmanned spacecraft to study the moon's composition, learn more about its evolution, and scout the conditions there in preparation for manned missions. These orbiters, landers and rovers will create detailed maps, search for water, and gather dues about moonquakesall of which will bring us closer to the next giant leap for mankind,

Making Better Lunar Maps

Three orbiters-Japan's Selenological and Engineering Explorer (SELENE), India's Chandrayaan-I and China's Chang'e 1-have already launched. Chang'e 1, which launched in October 2007, crash-landed on the moon this March after completing its mission. AU three of these countries plan to send up additional lunar probes within the next five years. During that same period, Russia, Europe and the U.S. are also

scheduled to send unmanned spacecraft to the moon.

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is the first mission in the agency's Vision for Space Exploration program, which ultimately aims to put humans on Mars .. Slated for launch in April, LRO will help NASA get ready for future manned moon missions by taking photos of the surface at a resolution ofless than two feet. NASA plans to compare the new photos with those taken by lunar astronauts in the 1970s to determine if and how the landscape has changed. LRO will also be used

to create 3-D computer models of the moon that will show not only the old Apollo landing sites but will include every rock large enough to be an obstacle to a manned spacecraft-key for planning future landing sites for rovers or a return mission.

Orbiting the moon's poles just 30 miles above the lunar surface, LRO will also search for subsurface ice, which could be melted to supply water to

a future base. Earlier measurements made by the Lunar Prospector probe found deposits of hydrogen in the polar regions, which could indicate

the presence of frozen water. A lack of atmosphere on the moon allows hot sunlight to turn water ice directly into gas, a process called sublimation. As

a result, the only place where water ice might exist is at the poles, in deep

Space Exploration

craters whose bottoms always lie in shadow, where temperatures seldom rise above -472 'E But hydrogen is just indirect evidence of water, and NASA would like proof that there is frozen water in the moon's polar craters. Therefore, the LRO will be launched together with a smaller satellite: the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), which is made up of a small spacecraft and a spent Centaur, the empty shell of one of the rocket stages used to launch LRO and LCROSS into space.

The small craft, following behind the Centaur, will steer it toward a carefully planned impact near the moon's south pole. During the last phase of

the flight, LCROSS will photograph the cloud of dust created by the Centaur as it crashes into the moon's surface. The impact-at about 5,500 miles an hourwill form a crater 16 feet deep and more than 65 feet wide and throw a huge dust cloud 20 miles into space.

Immediately after the impact, the shepherding craft win fly through the dust plume, scanning it for traces of water vapor and relaying its findings back to Earth. Four minutes later, this spacecraft will also hit the lunar sur-


face. Both impacts will toss up enough dust for people on Earth to see it with a telescope.

But it will take a lot more than water to build a base on the moon. Other lunar materials could be put to use for construction and fuel. Soil, for instance, might be used to build a base and could contain minerals and metals with other uses. Analyzing the moon's composition is also important for understanding its origins and structure.

Scientists are especially in terested in what lies beneath the moon's crust, It is not known if the core is solid or still partially molten-vinformation that could help us to explain the phenomena of moonquakes.

Apollo seismometers revealed that there are at least

four types of moon quakes. One originates in a layer 400 to 600 miles beneath the surface. Scientists suspect that the tidal forces that the Earth exerts on the moon may cause these deep tremors but can't prove this without further exploration. Another type, known as shallow moonquakes, begins less than 20 miles underground. The other two lands of tremors oc-cur on the moon's surface as a result of meteorite impacts and the thermal expansion of the moon's frozen crust at daybreak


(a day on the moon can last two Earth weeks, so the freeze-thaw cycle is often more violent than on Earth).

Shallow mconquakes are the

ones to watch. Although they're not frequent-the Apollo seismometers registered only a total of28 shallow quakes over eight years- they can be both powerful and long-lasting. The tremors have been known to range up to 5.5 on the Richter scale, which on Earth is strong enough to do minor structural damage. Quakes take much longer to subside on

annedbase on the moon could one day serve as a way station on expeditions to Mars.

The first

the moon because of the composition of its crust. On Earth, water changes the crust through a weathering process. In the absence of this process, the moon's CTI1St remains dense and rigid, prolonging the vibrations.

On the moon, even a small crack

in a shelter could be fatal to astronauts if it allowed air to leak out. So before NASA can build anything there, scientists will need to know what forces the construction must be able to withstand.

One way to learn more about the mechanics of moonquakes is to measure the moon's uneven gravitational field, which can be used to calculate the densities of its LTUSt and mantle. This data will help scientists identify the structures beneath the moon's surface. The U.S. plans to map lunar gravity using the twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) satellites, slated to launch in 2011. One satellite will follow the other in orbit

around the moon. By determining precisely how the satelli res move in relation to each other, the GRAIL mission will chart

the moon's gravity field more accurately than ever before. Another way to study the lunar interior is by installing seismic-

monitoring stations on its surface. One approach is to launch small, spike-shaped penetrators

from satellites in orbit around the moon. The penetrators, striking at high velocity, bore deep into the lunar surface and relay seismic data to their mother ship.

The Russian Luna-Glob mission scheduled for 2012 will carry four penetrators equipped with seismometers. Two of the penetrators will land near the and landing sites to compare new readings with seismic measurements taken between 1969 and 1974. Another penetrator will land

in Aitken, a large, deep crater near the south pole where there is a good chance of finding ice in addition to seismic vibrations, Europe's MoonLITE, scheduled for launch in 2014, will also use penetrators to measure seismic activity,

Many of the spacecraft headed

for the moon will also carry magnetometers to study the magnetic field. Some of the rocks on the lunar surface are magnetized as a result of meteor impacts, But such impacts can erase evidence of a magnetic field, A study of the moon's magnetic environment will help resolve the question of whether the moon has a molten core,

As more countries explore the moon, there is a possibility that, like the International Space Station, moon missions will become cooperative arrangements among several countries,

The International Lunar Network, which will be created between 2010 and 2020, could eventually consist of

8 to 10 stations, Such a network might then serve as the groundwork for the first manned base on the moon, And that base, in tum, could one day be

a way station on expeditions to Mars, For now, moon exploration is up to individual countries, But constructing a manned base is a daunting and expensive feat, and nations just might have to work together to make it happen, _

Space Exploration


Cel_s Made· 0 Order

Scientists are ready to go beyond gene-splicing and create entirely new organisms from scratch. Instead of Frankenstein's monster, they envision microscopic factories that can cheaply produce fuel, clean the environment, and manufacture medications

_ oday, genetic engineering means splicing genes into living cells

to alter their behavior. This approach is powerful-altered

microbes produce industrial chemicals, simple biofuels and even insulin, But

these cells are crowded with extraneous genes that direct much of the organism's energies to other processes,

Instead of piggybacking on existing cells, biological engineers want to fashion specialized life-forms from

the ground up, The real-world applications are vast, For example, scientists hope to design bacterial "factories" that will produce fuel from the leafy leftovers offood crops in which all

the bacteria's effort would go toward

1 • Sci,entists start with the four simple molecules.i called bases, tliarare the b~irding blocks of genes, The bases-adenine {A}, guanine (G), thymme (T) and cytosine {f)-are deriveB from sugarcane,



I II Building the Bacteria

I of tbe Future in Six Steps

_ Scientists plan to crea.te custom-designed organisms th'M will function as microscopic hie-factories with such tasks as producing eco-frlend Iy fuels or neuvalizlng toxic waste, Here's how it might happen,



2. Engineers program a DNAsyn"fhesiling machine.to assemble the bases into a complete genome, composedota minimal genome auqmented by genes witfi"'specific functions.

4. E.ngineersi nsert the sYMhesized strands Into a host organism like yeast, which they chemically trick into assernbl ing the genome.

3. The machine combines the molecules into strands of DNA ten 5 of thousands of bases long ..


Syntnetic Biology:

- -

generating ethanol, without wasteful by-products. Such custom-made cells could be even safer than today's engineered microbes. Biologists might create pollution-eating bacteria that live only while the toxic waste is present, for instance. Once the bugs had consumed the pollutants, they would die and pose no risk of contaminating the surrounding ecosystem.

Two recent advances set the stage for bringing this dream to life. In 2007, scientists a t the J. Craig Ven ler Institute aCVI) in Rockville, Maryland, transplanted all of the genetic materialthe genome-from one bacterium

into the empty husk of another and switched it on, proving that formerly inert DNA molecules can reanimate a cell capable of reproducing. And last year, JCVI researchers fabricated entire genomes from the individual building blocks of ON A.

The Library of Life

In the late 1990s, Craig Venter's company, Celera Genornics, became one of the first groups to sequence the complete human genome. With funding in part from his company's profits, Venter and a team of researchers

5. The now-assembled synthetic genome is isolated and ~serted into a bacterium depleted of its own genetic tT).aterials.

embarked on a two-year ocean journey in 2004 aboard his yacht, the

sampling species from the depths and sequencing their exotic genomes for use in future synthetic organisms.

But DNA sequences that code for differen t tasks are ofli ttle use if they are simply cataloged in databases-scientists first need a basic framework on which to build specialized organisms. This framework, called the minimal genome, is a collection of genes that code for the most basic cellular processes: taking up nutrients, turning food into energy, copying DNA, and dividing growing cells in two.

JCVI scientists selected the bacterium Mycopla.llna gCllitalium to define these vital genes. This small bacterium uses the least DNA of any known organism that can grow in a petri dish-fewer than 500 genes. (Humans, in comparison, have upward of25,000 genes.) The researchers randomly removed genes from M. genitalium's genome and found that nearly 100 of them are superfluous to the basic tasks of life. They dubbed the remaining 387- gene species M. genitaUumjCVI-l.0.

On its own, this minimal-genome organism performs no unique func-

The natural genome is removed from a bacterium.

The artificial genome is inserted, replacing the old DNA.

From Enemy to Ally

Mycoplasma genitalium bacteria, which cause a chlamydia-like venereal disease, have just 482 gene.s and can getby with 100 less. They are the simplest known plat· form on which to build new life.

tions: it simply lives. But by adding genes-many from the JCVI's deep-sea collection-the minimal genome will be outfitted to perform specific tasks. Venter plans to start with a bacterium that can make natural gas from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. He aims to be finished by later this year.

M. genitaliumjCVI-1.0 began as a computer model. Moving from the computer to the molecule was difficult,

6. When this bacterium divides, the artificial genome is copied into the dauqhter cells, creating a colony of1artificial organisms.


since even this bare-bones genome is a massive structure. Its chemical bases, represented by the letters A, C, T and G, form a 582 ,970-base-long molecule.

To build the genome, JCVI scientists first used machines called DNA synthesizers to produce twenty-five 24,000- base-long strands, which partially overlap and together cover the whole genome sequence. 111e engineers then transferred the completed 25 segments of DNA from the synthesizing machines to the bacterium E coli, after chemically tricking it into treating the DNA as if it were its own and in need of repair. In a two-step process, the bacteria combined chunks of DNA from one round into larger pieces in the next, finally resulting in a 144,000-base-Iong strand, one quarter of the JeVI-l.0 genome.

By now, the foreign DNA was too large for E coli to handle. So the researchers moved several of the strands into more- complex baker's-yeast cells to assemble them into two halves and finally into the whole genome, which they completed in January 2008. By November, they had simplified the

process into an astonishing single-step assembly that uses only yeast and takes less than one week, The researchers believe that they can now assemble genomes up to five times as large-

2.3 million bases-using this system, which will allow them to build simple synthetic organisms from their minimaigenome.

Booting It Up

The naked DNA produced by this method is still a long way from a living organism. It mus t be isolated from the yeast and then inserted into a cell, which serves as the hardware to run the synthesized genetic software.

To discover a process for coaxing DNA to life, JCVI scientists began by transplanting the whole genome from the blue bacterium Mycoplasma mycoides in to the white cells of a dis tan t rela tive, Mycoplasma capricolum, the recipient. Getting the DNA into the microbes is tricky, The bacteria are far too small

to pierce with even the microscopic needles commonly used for manipulating animal cells. Instead the scientists

used chemicals to poke holes in the cell's membrane, allowing the DNA molecule to pass through, Handling the large, brittle molecule was no simple task either, but mixing it with microscopic beads, which act as a supporting scaffold, prevented the DNA from breaking apart.

Next, researchers inserted an antibiotic that is deadly to the white M. capricolum bacteria but that has no effect on blue M. mycoides. After several days, researchers saw big blue colonies of M. mycoides but none of the white M. capncoJum. DNA sequencing of the cells confirmed that the resulting genome was pure M. mycoides, not a patchwork from the twa bacteria, The recipient cells had booted up the new genomes to replace their own, becoming an entirely different species in the process.

The JevI scientists hope to apply this technology to bring their synthetic DNA to life. But some hurdles remain. For example, punching holes in the soft membrane of Mycoplasma cells to insert DNA is fairly easy, but most genetically engineered bacteria have robust cell


S}!nthetic Biology


walls that scientists will have to figure out how to breach.

Who Owns Life?

The exotic genomes Venter discovered on his ocean voyage belong to his private collection. and J CVI has patented its minimal genome, M. genitalium JCVI-1.0, and other technologies. But not everyone believes in making synthetic biology proprietary, Other researchers are developing open-source technologies comparable to Venter's patented ones. In 2003, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute ofTedmology began building a public bank of genetic components that encourages anyone

to experiment with and combine them into more-complex genetic machines.

Starting with a mere 100 DNA fragments, called BioBricks, MIT's Registry of Standard Biological Parts has grown to include approximately 3,200. Biological tinkerers from around the world rigorously test these parts and use them to assemble sets of genes that work together to perform a function. They then send the part's specifications and test tubes containing their BioBricks back to the Registry

for others to build on. The

result is a myriad of poten tially lifesaving "devices." Synthetic BioBricks provide the capability for cells to perform. functions such as producing cancerkilling chemicals or changing color in the presence of certain toxic heavy metals in drinking

water. These intricate building

blocks don't break the bank, either-to foster innovation, the Registry has shipped hundreds of thousands of BioBricks worldwide at no cost to re-

cipients. Scientists and even robots can easily assemble the parts into larger, more-complex combinations and soon they will be able to insert them into minimal genomes in the lab.

Heading up the development of that open-source minimal genome

is Tom Knight, an MIT professor and a Registry co-founder. His research group has been working to reduce the simple bacterium Mesaplasma f!orum 's

Researche.r J. Craig Venter is apioneer in the field of synthetic bio.fogy.

682 genes to their most basic number. M. f!orum, which lives in the gut of insects, touts a growth rate eight times as fast as JCVI's choice, M. genitaliuffi. It is also easier to grow in the laboratory and less dangerous to handle than

M. genitalium, which causes an in-

Synthetic BioBricks provide the capability for cells to perform fundions such as producing cancer-

killing chemicals.

fectious disease in humans. When completed, this minimal frame will become part of the Registry.

The Stakes

But what are the broader implica-

tions of creating synthetic life? COuld harmful organisms soon pose a threat to national security, for example? The genomes of deadly viruses and bacteria are available on the Web, and custom DNA sequences can be purchased with a credit card and shipped internationally. Biological engineers daim that any

fears are largely unfounded, asserting that only a handful of scientists are capable of performing both the assembly and genome activation. Forwardthinking scientists have proposed monitoring systems for DNA synthesis, such as computer software that would

flag purchases of sequences that match up with dangerous microbes like botulism or anthrax.

But many scientists warn of unintended consequences, such as an accidental production

and release of harmful bacteria. Some believe that such a ca-

tastrophe could happen if creations became too complex for their designers to fully understand. Engineers hope the use of minimal genomes, a method

more predictable than traditional gene splicing, ...n1I reduce this danger. Still, even these simple life-forms are not entirely understood. Some scientists are therefore advocating more basic research, and others are campaigning for rigorous testing of engineered microbes before they are put to use. In both the U.S. and Europe, scientists continue to discuss the best options through open forums before advising political bodies. Meanwhile. biological engineering races ahead, ushering in an entirely

new era in science.e




mathematician Rene Descartes, who sought to locate the "seat of the soul," as he called it, about a century later. Unlike other philosophers, who believed that the soul floated freely in space or was ubiquitous in the air around us, Descartes claimed that the immaterial soul resided in a fixed location in the brain. In his influential work Meditations 011 First Philosophy, published in 1641, he describes the soul as a res cogitans ("thinking thing") that consists of the essence of the self that is respon-

sible for aU our thoughts, hopes, doubts and beliefs. He termed the outside world res extensor. According to Descartes, the soul can exist independently of the body, but the two also interact.

Thanks to Renaissance-era insights on human anatomy, Descartes knew that the brain consisted of two symmetrical halves. Reasoning that a soul cannot be divided in two, Descartes posited that it must inhabit a single brain structure, which he identified as the pineal gland. Today we know that

Putting the Puzzle Together


For centuries, philosophers and scientists have researched the nature of consciousness.

Here are some of the most important advances.


Italian theologian Thomas Aquinas distinguishes between sensing something and being aware of sensing it

CIRCA 400 North African bishop Saint Augustine differentiates the material body from the immaterial soul,


the pineal gland, a pea-size structure situated in the center of the brain between the two hemispheres, produces melatonin, a hormone essential to regulating circadian rhythms. But there's no evidence beyond Descartes' philosophical theories to support the notion that the small gland plays a starring role in consciousness.

The Rise of Materialism

One of the greatest Challenges facing Descartes and the theory of mind-body


With his words Cog ito ergo sum ("I think, therefore I am"), the French phi I oso pher and mathematician Rene Descartes introduces the concept of "dualism": We sense our environment with our brains but reg ard it with ou r minds. Desca rtes consl ders the pineal gland to be the seat ofthe soul because there is only one, and it lies at the center of the brain.

dualism was explaining how the immaterial soul could interact with the material part of the pineal gland and thus with the rest of the body, Descartes never found a satisfactory answer to this question, and many of his supporters believed that only a divine creator could allow the connection,

By the end of the 19th century, most scientists had rejected dualism, A new philosophical school called materialism, fueled by advances in medicine, claimed that the material brain and the conscious soul are one and the same, Central to this thinking is the theory that for each small part of consciousness there exists a corresponding neurological action, perhaps a neuron firing, This means that consciousness and all human feelings stem from biochemical processes in the brain.

Although technology has enabled a sophisticated understanding of brain function, it's still exceedingly difficult to link physical processes to consciousness. Scientists have tried to use brain

scans to pinpoint origins of consciousness. One type of scan used for this purpose is called functional magnetic resonance imaging (tM:RI), which detects blood-flow patterns in the brain. tM:RIs can show the correlation between

activity in a specific brain region and a specific physical or mental task. But such technology has so far revealed few discrete anatomical links to con-

sciousness, leading many scientists to condude that consciousness probably


British philosopher John Locke [right] uses the

word "consciousness," as we understand it today, for the first time. He writes that the self is formed throughout life by our experiences and impressions of the world around us.

arises from various brain regions, not just one, as Descartes had proposed.

Sum of Its Parts?

One key experiment that offered evidence of the notion that consciousness arises from several brain regions

is called the color phi phenomenon, developed in 1976 by psychologists Paul Kolers and Michael von Griinau of the University of Toronto. In their experiment, a test subject was shown a green dot in the upper-left comer of his or her field of vision and then, in rapid succession, a red dot in the lower-right comer.

111e experiment produced an unexpected result. Not only did the subjects see the spots as a single moving image but the spots appeared to change from green to red halfway along their path. This means the test subjects perceived the change in color before the red spot even appeared on the screen. The scientists theorized that the second image influenced the conscious perception

of the first image, before the subjects were conscious of the second one.

Daniel C. Dennett, a leading philosopher and authority on consciousness at Tufts University, interprets

this experiment as evidence that our conscious thoughts do not always interpret events in chronological order. If consciousness is located in a certain region of the brain, nerve signals from the eye should reach it in the order those signals were originally sensed, so the subject should be aware that the dot


When we are shown images of a green dot and a red dot in succession, our brain produces the illusion of a moving dot that changes color: the color phi phenomenon.

was first green and then red. Because this didn't happen, Dennett surmises that consciousness is not limited to a single region of the brain, but, rather, must be found in many regions that work together. Recent research by scientists in France supports this daim. Data from electrodes implanted in patients' brains indicate that consciousness stems from coordinated brain activity.

According to Dennett's theory, called the multiple-drafts model, the

American philosopher-psychologist William James [right] is one of the first to studyccnsclousness scientifically and is credited with the concept of "stream of consciousness" Many of his beliefs about psychology are still accepted today.

CIRCA 1700 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, a German mathematician and philosopher, suggests that if a person were shrunk to the size of a mite and could crawl through a brain, he would not encounter a single thouqht.Leibniz gives this argument as proof of dualism and posits that the mind and brain are separate.


nI1r't"" ir-;'I, "/,~


The brain prepares for hand '}.,


motions before the decision is -;.

mode to move.

seconds Muscles contract in another 200 milliseconds.

merits in the 1950s led some scientists to believe that the brain stem could be the source. In one study. researchers electrically stimulated the brain stem of a sleeping cat, which caused the

cat to wake up. Another experiment showed that cats with damaged brain stems lapse into comas. Other scientists have suggested that the cerebral cortex, particularly the frontal cortex, is a potential hub for consciousness. 111e cortex, the complexly folded structure located on the outer surface of the brain, connects many brain regions

and receives sensory information from

600 miHisecondsThe brain begins to prepare for motion.

1,000 milliseconds The conscious decision to move is made about 400 mill iseconds later.

brain interprets individual sensory inputs simultaneously to create a collective conscious experience. As the name of the theory implies, the brain constantly revises and edits thoughts and perceptions as it processes them.


Czech-born psychologist Max Wertheimer conducts an experiment looking at the phi phenomenon, in wh kh a subject obse rves a sc reen wh e re iden nca I images are quickly flashed one after the other, first on the left side of the screen and then on the right If this is done rapidly enough, the subject perceives the object as moving across the screen from the first position to the next, even though in reality they were shown at separate times. This test is the precursor to the color phi test, which indicates that consciousness isn't a chronological process.


But Where Is It?

Consciousness may arise from many different brain structures, but there's little consensus on which, if any, of those structures constitute the seat of consciousness. A group of experi-


Canadian brain surgeon Wilder Penfield [left] perform s s u rg leal exp eriments in which he mechanically stimulates the bra i ns of pari e nts while they are awake, allowing him to see how various brain regions are responsible for motion, senses and will.

CIRCA 1960

America n philosopher Da ni e I C. Dennett popularizes materialismthat consciousness is the result of bioc hemical processes in the bra in.

all over the body. It also coordinates voluntary actions, all of which implicate it in consciousness. Still other scientists think consciousness resides in the thalamus, since there are many cases where damage to that area results in loss of consciousness.

A final theory on the location of consciousness is expressed in a 2004 study by the British neurobiologist Francis Crick and his colleague Christof Koch, a neuroscientist at the California Institute of Technology. Their work maintains that OUT conscious impression of a single object Incorporates all

Jabber rlck~.com

OUT senses and cultural associations with that object. But where is the coordinating center? Their investigation pointed to a region of gray matter beneath the central part of the cortex in both halves of the brain, called the claustrum. The brain cells in the claustrum have connections to almost every part of the cortex, where higher brain functions like speech and decisionmaking are processed. Recent research at the University of Florida by neurosurgeon Juan Fernandez-Miranda (now at the University of Pittsburgh) is among the first to demonstrate the high level

of conductivity in the claustrum, supporting Crick and Koch's theory.

What Does It All Mean?

Ifwe can figure out consciousness, can we then build it into robots? Will we finally prove whether animals are truly conscious? Dennett's multiple-drafts model provides rich possibilities for nuanced conceptions, so we can speak of many different levels of consciousness. Studies of brain function and structure may uncover the true seat of consciousness-and might allow us to imbue machines with the same .•


American neu robiologist Roger Wokott Sperry discovers that if the connection betwee n the ri ght and I eft hem i spheres of the

bral n is cu t, the

patient's consciousness is split into two parts, each of which functions independently.



Russ lan-bo m neu roscientist Mikhail Lebedev shows that subjects wi II have the ill u slon of see i ng so meth ing if a small region in the prefrontal cortex is st i m u I ated, even though that region has nothing to do with vision. He specu lates tha t the consc ious experience of sensory input occurs here.

British neurobiologist Francis Crick, one of the discoverers of the do u ble-hellx structure of DNA, co-authors a paper with American neuroscientist Christof Koch sugg estl n g that consciousness is connected to a thin layer of gray matter in the brain called the claustrum.


At the end of Its life cycle, the caterpillar's sldn splits, revealing the pupa. Its outer skin hardens into the pupal case, known as the chrysalis in butterflies and the cocoon in moths. Inside the pupal case, the larval tissue reorganizes itself by breaking down and reforming as the organs and structures present in the adult butterfly or moth. This amazing process, which is still largely a mystery to scientists, can take anywhere from a week to several months.

Gilded Fortress

The colors and shapes of pupae are just as varied as those of adult lepidopterans. This metallic-looking tiger butterfly chrysalis (Tithoria harmonia) protects the defenseless Central and South American bug within.

Leafy Camouflage

The chrysalis of the cloudless sulphur butterfly (Phoebis sennae) combines hues and shapes found in tropical plants to hide in plain sight.

Subtle Sergeant

The common sergeant butterfly (Athyma perius), found in southern Asia, makes itself less conspicuous by trading the spines and colors of its larval stage for a more subdued chrysalis.




The monthly reports ffOm ~ European centerfot Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) are based on 51 predictions, each of wh ich starts with slightly different initial conditions. This graph shows how a cl ient can use the monthly forecast to get relevant information for its business-in this case, trends in wind speed over 32 days.

Wind speed (feet per second)



05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 12 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 01 02 03 04 05 06


The blue line on the

g ra p h gives the en semble mean-the most likely scenario, according to the ECMWf forecasts, for the next 32 days.

The gray lines represent the ensemble spread-the percentage of ECMWF forecasts predicting conditlons within a particular range. Ninety percent of the forecasts fall between the top and bottom gray lines, while 75 percent of the forecasts fall between the center gray lines. Only 5 percent of forecasts predict conditions outside those plotted by the top and bottom gray lines.

The red Ii ne shows a forecast create d by a eli e n t usin g th e ECMWF foreca st. The cI ien t has d isca rded the ensemble members. or predictio n s, that it considers unlikely-based on past observations of weather in

th e area a nd past ECMWF foreca sts for the sa me ti me period in the same area-and has used the remaining members to calculate a new ensemble mean.

temperature and humidity, for instance-can skew predictions. Of course, the reliability of a forecast decreases over time as more conditions change, which is a big reason that your Tv weatherman predicts only a week's weather at once. But scientists can factor in numerous variations in initial conditions to come to a probabilitybased prediction. In meteorology; a method called ensemble forecasting does just this by running many initial conditions through a model and making predictions based on all the results.

The Science of Weather

Even though most of us hope for warm weather when we plan events or run errands, it is, paradoxically, the sun's warmth that can spoil the party. The sun is a driving force behind Earth's weather systems. It contributes the


most heat to the area around the equator, and this heat moves north and south toward the polar regions as the air in the atmosphere moves. When warm air and cool air meet, precipitation usually results.

Warm fronts-the boundary between an advancing warm air mass and a cool air mass-are often responsible for the worst weather. Because warm air is less dense than cool air, a warm air mass will ride up over the cold. Rising air means condensation and precipitation, because the upper reaches of the atmosphere are cooler than the areas nearer to Earth. As the warm air moves higher, the water vapor it carries condenses, forming douds and rain, snow or sleet.

Cold fronts can cause their share of trouble as well-an advancing cold air mass will force its way beneath a

warm air mass, and that can also cause condensation, douds and precipitation as the warm air is forced upward. Cold fronts are often responsible for thunderstorms and other violent weather in the summer.

Air pressure, which increases and decreases in correlation with changes in air density and temperature, also affects weather. In areas oflow pressure, air rises higher into the colder temperatures of the atmosphere, causing condensation and precipitation.

In areas of high pressure, however,

air is pushed down toward the Earth's surface, where it warms and retains its water vapor.

Armed with a thermometer and a barometer, it's easy for an armchair meteorologist to recognize when warm or cold fronts and high- or low-pressure systems are moving into an area. It's

even easy to predict how those fronts and pressure changes will affect the weather for the next few hours. But how can we know what will develop a month from now?

Some weather forecasts are produced by observing current conditions and using that data in a model that predicts how the weather will develop. This is known as a single-model forecast, and at its basic level, it is the kind of forecast created by the armchair meteorologist: With observations of changing temperature and pressure, and knowledge of the kinds of weather those changes bring, one can make a fairly accurate guess about the weather over the next few hours.

Ifwe add satellite data and advanced computing to the armchair meteorologist's thermometer and barometer, we can produce accurate Single-model forecasts for periods

as long as 10 days. But when we try

to predict the weather beyond that, single-model forecasts fall apart. A single model simply can't account for all the possible variations in starting conditions-the flaps of the butterfly's wings-and the big variations they can cause in subsequent weather. It also can't tell us how likely its predictions are to be wrong or right. That's where ensemble forecasting comes in.

Embracing the Chaos

Since March 2002, the meteorolo-

gists at the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) in Reading, England, have been predicting the weather a month at a time with ensemble forecasting. Every Thursday, the ECMWF releases a global weather forecast for the next 32 days. The first 10 days of this forecast are predictions similar

to what we see on the nightly news. Predictions for the next 22 days are a little less specific, giving the odds on whether

it will be wetter or warmer, for example, toward the end of the month. "For such long lead times, we

Lining It Up

Ensemble forecasts can be represented as maps, but unlike the maps showing highs, lows and animated rain clouds that we see on TV, these use lines called isobars and isotherms to show the development of weather systems. The examples below show two ways of representing an ensemble forecast. The first, a spaghetti plot, shows all members of the ensemble, whereas the second shows the most likely situation as determined by the ensemble mean.

The Spaghetti Plot

48 hours

192 hours

On a. spaghetti plot, each forecast run is depicted by a different-colored isobar, a line that represents the pressure and movement of air through the atmosphere. At 48 hours into the forecast, there isn't much variation among the members of the ensemble-as evidenced by the similar paths of the isobars on this map-and the ensemble forecast as a whole has a high certainty.

As time goes on, the members of the ensemble, which started with just slightly different initial conditions, begin to produce widely differing results. At 192 hours (or elqht days). there is plenty of variation among the isobars. So although we can still pick out a general trend in the ensemble forecast, it has a much lower certainty than the 48-hour prediction.

The Ensemble Mean

Unlike a spaghetti plot an ensemble-mean map shows the most likely single scenario, as determined by the average of the members. This map includes isobars representing air pressure and movement [white lines], as well as isotherms representing temperature, from red (hot) to blue (cold).

At 48 hours, the ensemble mean predicted high pressure and high temperatures over central and northern Europe and Canada. But at 192 hours, rt predicts both low pressure (indicated by measurements) and lower temperatures moving into the northern regions.


cannot predict single weather events lil<e, 'Will it rain in New York in 23 days?" says Renate Hagedorn. a meteorologist at ECMWF. "What we can do is estimate the probability that the period in around 19 to 25 days from now will be wetter than normal. ~

In principle, ensemble forecasts are calculated like ordinary weather forecasts, Observations of current weather conditions are run through a computer model, which then calculates how

the weather will develop, But because the slightest error in observation-a miscalculation of atmospheric pressure or a sudden change in temperaturecan cause enormous inaccuracies in the forecast, ensemble forecasts don't settle for a single, possibly inaccurate set of initial conditions,

"The trick is to sample this initial uncertainty 50 times and run the model 50 times with these slightly changed initial conditions," Hagedorn explains, To do so, ECMWF meteorologists slightly tweak the initial observation of current conditions and run through the model again and again, until they've calculated for 51 different sets of ini tial condi tions,

The result is 51 predictions, known as ensemble members, that start out virtually the same but gradually diverge to produce equally likely forecasts,

This large number of predictions is the ensemble to which the term "ensemble forecasting" refers,

The ensemble mean-the average of all the forecasts - is considered the most likely situation, 111e ensemble as a whole can also provide us with the probability of a given condition, For example, if 40 out of 51 forecasts predict higher-than-normal temperatures, we can say that there is about an80 percent dunce ofa heat wave, The ensemble can even tell us how confident we should be in its predictions: We can be less certain of an ensemble with a lot of variance than we can of an ensemble with a lot of agreement among forecasts, "Some atmospheric situations are more predictable, like long-lasting periods of stable high-pressure systems, for

Hurricane Ike caused enormous damage in Texas lost September. Because tropical storms move qUickly and affect a large area, they cause significant variation among individual forecasts in on ensemble model.

example, whereas others are less predictable, such as fast-moving cyclones," Hagedorn says, "In fact, knowing whether we are in a less predictable or more predictable situation is the underlying reason for employing the method of ensemble forecasting, "

To visualize the data, each of the 51 forecasts in the ensemble can be superimposed onto one map, A single line representing air pressure and flow, known as an isobar, appears for each of the 51 runs, This collection of lines, which can resemble a plate of tangled pasta. gave the method its name: spaghetti plotting [see "111e Spaghetti Plot," facing page],

Early in the forecast, the lines of tl1e spaghetti plot are generally dose together, but as time goes on, they may begin to deviate markedly, Spaghetti plots can help meteorologists spot general trends, like when most of the lines show a concentrated low-pressure system developing over an area. 111ey can also show us the certainty of llie forecast, based on how many of the lines deviate from one another and by how much.

Putting the Forecasts to Use ECMWF sells its 32-day predictions to a variety of businesses through the na tional meteorological service of its member states, Clients pay for the


amount of information they requestfrom a few hundred dollars to a maximum charge of about $175,.000 per year. Energy companies, which must plan for 'fluctuation in the demand for electricity, oil, coal and natural gas, are key customers. Consumption depends on weather, and preparedness can help the company better serve its customers (and make more money) in the end. 111e finance and insurance sectors also use the forecasts when buying and selling energy or insuring risks,

But the applications extend beyond energy. Transportation agencies sometimes buy the forecasts to plan road maintenance. Health departments have used them to watch for coming heat waves. And retail businesses depend

on them when stocking weather-based products. ~We once worked with a chocolate producer who wanted to know the best timing for releasing their seasonal products," Hagedorn says. (There's less demand for ice-cream toppings when it's cold out.)

In the U.S., the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administra-

tion (NOAA) offers its own monthly ensemble forecast free to the public online through the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction center (CPC). And although NOAA's monthly forecasts preceded EC~WF's by several years, its once-a-month outlooks on temperature and precipitation cover only the 50 states, making it far less detailed than the weekly updated, global ECMWF forecasts.

So when will the nightly news or your favorite weather Web site get onboard? For now, newscasts give forecasts

for only about a week, which is probably all you expect from your TV weatherman. Although it's useful to know that there's a 90 percent chance of rain tomorrow so you can plan

to wear boots or that a 50 percent chance of rain on Saturday could spoil your picnic, most people don't need

Small bUsine.sses, like hot-air-bafloon operators,. can use monthly forecasts to predict demand.

to know on a daily basis whether it might be wet 30 days from now. The Weather Channel and its Web site, weather.com, also provide forecasts for only 10 days, although they are looking into expanding their predictions to up to 16 days.

Still, public weather reports could one day conceivably include a reliable monthly outlook, according to Hagedorn. Rather than daily predictions, she says, "These may be once-a-week updates on the possible scenarios for the next four weeks."

An Even Better Forecast

ECMWF updates its model approximately three times a year to refine

its parameters and hone the way it handles different processes in the atmosphere, as well as the ocean and soil. Usually a change begins when someone spots a weakness in the model-a problem predicting the melting of snow as it falls, for example. The researchers then try to reformulate

the model to solve these problems. "Individually taken, these changes

do not necessarily have a significant impact," Hagedorn says. "But taken together, they are steadily improving our forecasts."

One such improvement involves sea-surface temperature, which can have an enormous effect on weather around the world. In the tropics, it can make or break developing hurricanes. Ordinary weather forecasts often use a set value for these temperatures from the beginning to the end of the forecast. But for weather forecasts covering an entire month, during which sea-surface temperature may vary, this approach does not work. Last year, the ECMWF began including forecasts of sea -surface temperature in its models. About two thirds of the world's surface is covered by oceans, so adding this important component to the variables will mean greater accuracy in the forecasts.

The very nature of weather, however, means that we are not likely to ever make perfectly accurate longterm predictions. Blame it on chaos. _

Could a long-forgotten Reagan-era engine be the answer to the airlines' fuel woes?

(aI'S and trucks aren't the only gas-guzzlers out there, Although the airline industry has increased fuel efficiency and decreased emissions significantly over the past

30 years, commercial aircraft, powered predominantly by turbofanjet engines, still consumed nearly 16 billion gallons of jet fuel in 2008 alone, Oil prices

are currently low, but another price spike similar to last year's could hit the already struggling airline industry hard, That's why, after three decades in the shadow of turbofans, a nearly forgotten, fuel-efficient jet engine called the openrotor is experiencing a revival.


Less Fuel, More Noise

Jet engines work by sucking air in at

the front, compressing it, mixing it with fuel, and igniting it The hot mixture of air and burning fuel expands explosively and shoots out the back

of the engine, providing thrust The more bypass air-the air that initially bypasses the combustion chamberthat can be redirected to the engine, the greater its efficiency, In an open-rotor engine, which is basically a modified turbofan [see "The Open-Rotor Engine:

An Aviation Hybrid," page 761, the exhaust gases drive a fan system, which, together with thrust from the back of

the engine, powers the plane, The fan system, a series of propeller-like blades attached around a rotor, is able to pull more bypass air through the engine-as much as 35 percent more than comparable conventional jet engines, according to some estimates, This extra air increases thrust while saving on fuel. In fact, tests in the 1980s proved that the technology could cut fuel consumption by 25 to 35 percent That's big news for airlines, which spent about a third of their operating expenses on fuel in the first quarter oflast year,

But the open-rotor is not without its problems, It's slower than the typi-

cal turbofan jet. And it's noisy-very noisy. Far louder than the turbofan engines used on passenger planes today. the fan-system noise is harsh enough to penetrate the cabin and disturb the passengers. For the openrotor to be commercially feasible. engineers will need to quiet the engine, something they weren't able to accomplish before the project was terminated in the '80s.

T11e propfan, which used propellers instead of fan systems, was the precursor to the open-rotor engine. It was invented in the early 19705 through

a collaboration between NASA and

Hamilton Standard, a leading propeller manufacturer. The team published a technical paper on the project in 1976, and in the following years many major airplane-engine manufacturers began developing their own propfan prototypes, including G€neral Electric, Pratt & Whitney, and Allison, which Rolls-Royce acquired in 1995. Airplane-

Engines driven by fan systems on commuter planes and regianaljets may cut fuel use by as much as 35 percent.

body manufacturers, including Boeing, Lockheed and McDonnell Douglas, also began research.

Throughout the '80s, variations on the engine were tested in multiple stages, demonstrating proof of concept. A GE and NASA collaboration, for instance, conducted thousands of hours oftests, including 459 engine


The Open-Rotor Engine: An Aviation Hybrid

Every jet engine is based on the same fundamental principle. It works by drawing air in, compressing it, adding fuel, and ign iti ng the mixtu reo The hot fuel-air mixture expands ra pidly out the back of the eng ine, driving the pi ane forwa rd. Small design details differentiate each engine.


TURBOJ ET: The most basic form oftul'bine engine .,

In a turbojet, the fuel-air mixture is compressed and ignited, and it expands directly out the rear of the engine as hot exhaust, providing thrust. The exhaust gases are hotter and fastermoving than in a turbofan [below], reducing the engine's comparative efficiency. But the turbojet provides quick throttle response and power for its size, making it well-suited for use in military fighter jets, The high exhaust velocities, however, create a lot of noise.

High -p ressu re rem pressor

Hi g h-pressu re sh aft


Low-pre ssere compressor

lew -press u re shaft

High· pressu re IU rb ine

low- pres sure turbine

Combustion chamber

Exh au st nOllle




turbofans, and the switch to open-rotor engines would have been very costly. Low consumer confidence in propeller planes, which some perceived as old-

-(I TURBOFAN ENGINE: Thestandardforthepast30years Used in commercial planes, this engine is almost identical to the turbojet, except for the amount of bypass air that is generated by the addition of a

fan. A modern turbofan pulls five times as much bypass air through the engine as the turbojet does. The key design difference in the turbofan is that most of the airflow is diverted around the core airflow. This reduces noise and improves fuel consumption.

TURBOPROP ENGI N E: Provides excellent fuel efficiency ..

In a turboprop engine, often used in small passenger airliners and cargo planes teday, a more compact turbojet engine powers a propeller via a shaft and a gearbox. This design results in good fuel-consumption levels and acceptable noise levels, The drawback: Propeller blades keep turboprops from flying as fast as turbojets.

The goal is to determine which fan-system design will minimize noise while still keeping fuel effidency high.

fashioned and risky, didn't help matters, and engineers shelved the open-rotor before its kinks were worked out. But times have changed.




tests on the ground and 163 flight runs, In 1986, Boeing outfitted its 727 with GE's open-rotor engine, and two years later a similarly equipped McDon-

nell Douglas MD-80 made the open-rotor's first transatlantic flight, covering the 5,400 miles from Edwards Air Force Base in California to Famborough, just outside London.

Although the tests proved

the engine's superior fuel efficiency, oil prices were falling drastically by the late 1980s,

and the savings that the new technology promised were no longer significant. The airline industry hesitated to adopt the open-rotor technology, probably, in part, because they had already committed to using


The Return of the Open-Rotor Today, concerns about carbon emissions rather than oil prices are reigniting interest in open-rotor en-

gines, according to Ruben Del Rosario, the project manager for subsonic fixed-wing projects at NASA. The old players are back in the game .. NASA, GE and the French aircraft-engine maker Snecma, all of which had teamed up in the '80s to conduct wind-tunnel tests, are now working on various fansystem configurations to keep the noise at an acceptable level.

NASA and GE are scheduled to conduct testing this spring or summer at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

The tests will be performed on rig

components-parts of the engine, including the fan system, that are scaled down in size. NASA will use modem computational tools to test the same

rig components it worked with in the 19805 and will compare the old rigs with new designs that are currently in development. 111e goal is to find the source of excess noise and determine which fan-system design will minimize noise while still keeping fuel efficiency high. GE and Snecma have also formed the joint venture CPM International, which has produced a jet engine that could be easily adapted to open-rotor technology once the best fan-system configuration is determined, According to GE spokesman Rick Kennedy, Snecma, CFM International and GE are all interested in developing open-rotors,

as future replacements for today's single-aisle aircraft, such as the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737. Open-rotor engines are also being considered for regional jets.

Several aspects of open-rotor design affect both noise level and efficiency. The size and shape of the fan system

is key. New designs may use slower rotation speeds to cut noise. To get

the same amount of thrust, the fan blades will have to be larger; GE says its current designs may measure as much as 14 feet across. The number of fan systems matters too. The original propfans of the 19S0s had a single propeller, but modem designs use two layers of blades to ina-ease efficiency. The second layer grabs bypass air that comes off the first and pulls it back

into the system, so that the engine can maximize its use of airflow.

Engineers are working to make open-rotors faster as wen. As the plane accelerates, the blades have to rotate faster. Regular straight propellers experience shock waves, which reduce thrust, Curving or sweeping the blades can eliminate shock waves and increase the engine's speed. Using these design op-

tions, experts believe, open-rotors may be able to reach Mach 0.7S-about 594 mph. That's close to today's jet airliners, whose turbofan engines allow them to fly at up to Mach 0.85, or 647 mph.

Open-Rotors 2.0

Engine location also matters, with the options having various benefits and drawbacks. Engines mounted in the rear

of the plane will be less noisy for passengers, but the weight distribution is better when they are mounted on the wings, and the latter might be easier to install.

On the other hand, the fan systems create powerful turbulence, so the blades need to be far enough away from the wings and the tail's horizontal and vertical stabilizers to maintain safe flying. With these conflicts in mind, engineers are now asking whether it's practical to simply replace the engines on existing planes with the open-rotor, or if a new plane design is necessary. Open-rotor engines have been added

on in the past-s-to the Boeing 727 and McDonnell Douglas MD-SO in the late '80s, for example~ but most commercial planes were designed specifically for a turbofan structure. A new plane may be necessary to most efficiently use the open-rotor technology, though this route could be a lot more costly than installing the engine on existing planes.

Many of these issues won't be solved for years. The results of NASA and GE's acoustics and efficiency testing must be analyzed, and new engine designs will be developed using that data. But with growing concerns about carbon dioxide emissions, the fuel-efficient open-rotor engine may, finally, have its day .•


Research Footnotes

Optical Illusions Explained

Brain researchers studying the cause of optical illusions have found that tiny eye movements called rnkrosaccades are what create the illusion of motion in the purple circles shown here. As the rate of these movements increases, subjects perceive the circles to be moving faster. This I ink proves that the brain alone is not responsible for optica'i illusions-the effect actually begins in the eyes.

Rapid eye movements cause the appearance ofmotion in this image.


Numbers that include all the digits, from 0 to 9, afe called pandigital numbers. (Pandigital quantitieS missing a zero are referred to as ~eroless, or excl~slve.) Number theorists are faSCinated by these integers, which can behave In unexpected ways. For example, when you multiply 123,456,789 by 2,4, 5,. ? or 8, the product is always also a pandigltal number. And strangely, all pandtqltal numbers that include a zero are evenly divisible by 9. You can als? create al interesting pandigital variations such as 12,354,678,987,654,321, which 15 equ

to 111 ,111,111 multiplied by itself.

Tricky Number

Nature's Curiosities

What Causes Red Snow?

If you've ever been on a snow-covered mountain in the summer, you may have been surprised to see red snow The tint

is not the result ofpollution but rather evidence of algal blooms on the snow's surface. Red snow algae, or Chlamydomonas nivalis,is found worldwide in alpine environments above 8,000 feet and is sometimes known as watermelon snow for

its disti nctive fruity smell. A red photosynthetic pigment called astaxanthin gives the cold-loving species its color and helps it survive in strong visible Light as well as extremely high levels of ultraviolet radiation. The al'gae become dormant i,n the winter when fresh snowfall covers them, but the blooms reemerge in the summer as the top layer of snow melts.

Red-colored algae tint permanent snow on mountains around the world.


World of Science


Elemental Secrets





Silver plays no bi.ological role, but most foods contai n tiny quantities of the metal. In fact, each of us consumes about 50 micrograms of silver a day. Virtually all of this is immediately excreted, but over time small amounts are absorbed by the body. The average adult has up to 10 milligrams of silver accumulatedi n their skin, organs and bones.

• Silver ions are lethal to bacteria and viruses. In fact, American pioneers were known to use the metal to sterilize drinki ng water on their journeys west This may be one explanation for the old custom of tossing coins into fountains and wells .

• Although many elements, such as francium, germanium and polonium, have been named for countries, Argentina is named after an 1"1 I" me nt-argentums, the Latin name for silver.



Did You Know •••

WATER is one of the only liquids that expands when cooled-the reason bottles and cans of waterbased drinks often burst in the freezer

LIECHTENSTEIN, a tiny European nation located between Switzerland and Austria, is the world's largest exporter of false teeth.

THE MEDAL that is awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize features an image of three nude men with their hands on one another's shoulders-a sym bol of the international' fraternal bond among people.

A SI NGL - HAIR on the pelt of a musk ox can be as long as six feet.


Scientists studying the universe have coneluded that its basic properties are uncannily suited for life. They say, "There are so many life friendly properties that physicists cannot dismiss them as mere accidents. Tweak the laws of physics in just about any way-in this universe anyway-> and life as we know it would not exist-nor would we."

After reading that paragraph, ask yourself how are people treating our amazingly fine-tuned habitat? Answers might vary, but most would agree that it is often misused to serve human purposes.

This essay intends to draw people's attention to their nonconformance to a little-known law of nature, causing them untold physical, mental, andlor emotional misery as well as any disregard for the safety of planet Earth.

Early in the past century Richard W. Wetherill identified that natural law and presented it in a book entitled, Tower of Babel, published and on sale in January 1952. Its correction technique was copied by psychologists in the Philadelphia area, but the book's reference to a natural law of behavior was ignored.

Wetherill's epiphanies and a study of his behavior and that of many thousand others had revealed people's wrong attitude toward the realities of life. After eons of human efforts to quiet turbulent human affairs, they still cry out for solutions.

If we reason from the fact that this planet is the only place in the universe that supports life as we know it, Wetherill suggests the following:

Whoever or whatever created this perfectly constructed planet also created a law governing its inhabitant's behavior. Wetherill called it the law of absolute right: Right action gets right results. It defines right as what is truly logical, rational, and honest. As with creation's laws of physics, only by conforming to this behavioral law do people solve their problems and avoid further trouble.

It is well known that not conforming to natural laws results in trouble of one kind or another. By failing to take right action, people unwarily invite myriad problems and trouble that, sooner or later, cause each person's death. No argument here; death is what has

Richard W Wetherill 1906-1989

been happening from the beginning of human life to the present generation.

No claims are being made. We are presenting facts that can be verified by anybody observing the causeand-effect sequence of human existence.

We think that this perfectly constructed u Diverse calls for perfectly behaving occupants and that that result can be achieved when enough persons do their best to conform to nature's behavioral law mentioned earlier.

Wetherill often spoke of the need for a microcosm of a rational society to display right results for others to observe. The adult population of the United States of America could be that microcosm in our world population of over seven billion. Don't hesitate! The persons who are conforming to nature's law of behavior are enjoying the right results that the law promises.

No instructions were given ancient peoples regarding a law of gravitation, but they learned to conform to it to stay out of trouble with the force of gravity. Please regard this public-service message as a wakeup call for readers to adapt their behavior to conform to nature's law of absolute right. Be assured, people's truly rational, honest behavior extends the beneficent intent of whoever or whatever created this life-friendly universe and us.

Visit our Website www.alphapub.corn to learn more. To speak with someone about books or request a free mailing, call 800.992.9124. If you reach voice mail, please carefully spell your name and address and name the publication where you learned about The Alpha Publishing House. Write to us at 411 Eagleview Blvd., Ste 100, Exton, PA 19341. Also know that our mailing list is never distributed.

Text by E. Marie Bothe, President a/The Alpha Publishing House.

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needed to make col- joints and anemia are 10 n g vaya ges in th elate Lind showed that citrus scurf, mea ni ng"to gnaw
lagen, the main protein so m e of its sympto ms. 15th century, though it fruits like oranges and or cut to shreds:'
01 connective tissue isr are toda y. lemons both p reve nt
in animals. and cure it.
Heradeum man/egaz- ltca n grow up to 1 5 feet Its blooms are large, Its watery sap is highly Pigs can eat this
zianum is an invasive tali, with stem s fo ur um bre II a-sh aped toxi c. Ski n con tact co m- weed without any ill
noxious weed, which in ches in d ia meter an d d usrers of sm a II bined with sun exposure effects=-whkh may
was first introduced into leaves spanning up to white flowers. resu Itsi n pa infu I b I iste rs be how it got its name.
the U.S. as an ornamen- live feet. th at may I eave dark
tal plant in 1917. pu rp Ie sea rs, Your score" 24-30 Goodshow,Sherlock 9-16 Goodenough,Paris

· 17 - 23 Not ba d, Watson 0-8 H it the books, Homer!

Answers appear on page 87


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Place the numbers 1 through lOin the blank spaces so that the sum of each line is 30.

How many different numbers can appear on this three-dlqit display by rearranging the digits 1,2 and 3? Blanks can also be used to fill in positions, but only to the left of digits.


You want to bake a cake for 45 minutes, but instead of a timer you have two pieces of fuse (A and B) and a pack of matches. You know that the fuses will each take exactly one hour to burn from end to end but may not burn at a constant rate. How can you measure 45 minutes with this equipment?

Cutthis figure into two parts that can be recombined to form a rectangle measuring 6 squares by 4 squares.


1/ You playa simple coin-toss game with an opponent in which the first player to throw heads wins. Is it an advantage to take the first toss, and if so, how much of an advantage?

The two red circles shown here are of equal size. Which area is bigger, the red or the blue?

You see a pile of rope, but it is too dark to know whether it goes over or under each time it crosses itself. Depending on how it is configured, it is possible to make a knot by pulling on the two ends. What is the probability of making a knot?

What number comes next in this series?

Divide this table along the lines into 16 strips of the same length, so there are no two strips that have the same set of numbers and so that the sum of the numbers on each strip is 34.

2 3 ' 13 16 3 2 14 15
5 8 10 11 4 9 10 11
11 10 9 4 13 16 1 2
16 13 4 1 14 7 9 6
4 5 10 13 5 8 10 11
3 6 11 16 2 14 8 10
12 10 9 3 11 5 3 15
15 13 4 2 16 12 5 1 Answers appear on page 87









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