Alyson Foster

  What do the members of the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics discuss during their annual meetings?  Math, usually.  Lots of math.  But this week they’ll also be talking about something a little different: penguins. That’s because mathematician Francois Blanchette will be presenting a paper that examines fluid dynamics in relation to the...

If you’re like most people you probably find cobwebs to be a nuisance – something to brush off or wipe away with a dust rag while cleaning house.  But it turns out that these messy webs are actually small feats of engineering.  Polymer scientists at the University of Akron have discovered that the common house...

  A newly discovered star with an extremely strong magnetic field has caught the attention of scientists.  Located about 20,000 light-years from Earth, NGC1624-2 is the most magnetic massive star discovered by astronomers to date. NGC1624-2 has about 35 times the mass of our sun and possesses a magnetic field nearly 20,000 times stronger.  Because...

  A new airport will soon be in the works in Chinchero, Peru.  The plan is part of an effort to boost tourism to the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, according to Peru’s President Ollanta Humala.  The current airport, which is located near Cusco, only has the capacity to handle a small number of flights, and...

  How do you film a net-casting spider catching its prey?  Strap on your hiking boots, trek out into the the middle of the woods, get your camera ready, wait a long time, and then . . . don’t blink. A crew for the BBC caught the small-scale, but dramatic, kill on film while making...

  On March 8, 1918, National Geographic editor, Gilbert Grosvenor received a letter from Arthur Hosking regarding several photographs the Society had recently purchased.  Hosking was handling the transaction for the photographer, a Japanese schoolteacher named Kiyoshi Sakamoto, and he thought Sakamoto and National Geographic might be a good match.  “His case is a very...

  For Americans who are sweating it out around the country, the news won’t come as much of a surprise:  the first five months of 2012 have been the hottest on record in the continental United States.  This past June 164 all-time heat records were broken or tied, and July is off to a sweltering...

Being alone doesn’t just feel bad.  It’s bad for you — especially if you’re older.  This is the conclusion of two recent studies that examined the link between feelings of loneliness the risk of mortality.  In one study, Harvard researchers examined data from the Reduction of Atherothrombosis for Continued Health Registry and found that participants...

  Would you let a robot nanny watch your children?  Or let a robot tutor teach them?  These scenarios sound like something out of science fiction, but they may become a reality in the not-so-distant future.  And as robots improve and develop the capability to perform social tasks, new questions are raised about how humans...

  Libraries have always been based on the idea of “reuse and recycle”, but a community in Wisconsin has taken the idea to a whole new level — a tiny one!  Now, more than 300 “Little Free Libraries” have popped up around the U.S. and even internationally, including locations as far away as Nepal. For...

  Life getting you down?  Maybe it’s time to go to Hawaii.  According to the results of a recent poll by Gallup, Hawaii’s residents are the happiest people in the United States.  North Dakota took second place, demonstrating that a landlocked life can be pretty good too.  Other states that made it into the top...

  Kids learn early on that an unusual name can be a serious liability, one with the power to make you the butt of jokes on the playground or in the school lunchroom.  But it turns out that what your parents choose to call you may influence your life long after grade school is over. ...

    The dung beetle is an intriguing insect for more than one reason, but scientists have been particularly mystified by the “dance” the beetles perform while atop their balls of dung.  In a recent study, a group of researchers set out to figure out what causes this unusual behavior. It turns out that the...