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Margaret Wertheim

Geometric Figuring

Photo (top) by Romulo Fialdini Throughout the history of Western art, mathematics has enjoyed a schizophrenic reception: revered at times as a model of the “rational” and the “true,” rejected in other eras as a paradigm of bloodless abstraction. In LACMA’s sparklingly pretty show on midcentury minimalism, “Beyond Geometry: Experiments......

Quantum Mysticism

Photos ©Lord of the Wind Films, Inc. In the pantheon of modern myths, few have wrought more damage than the one which asserts that science and religion are inherent foes. With its dogmatic rejection of evolution, creationism tears apart school boards, bowdlerizes textbooks and pushes the U.S. further down the......

The Visa Vise

Photo by Lena Herzog Few people can forget the moment they learned about the attack on the World Trade Center. For Lena Herzog it was particularly surreal. On that ostensibly mundane morning, Herzog was delivering a paper by her father, a Russian scientist, at the annual conference of the Society......

Evolution on the Desktop

Ed Burton doesn’t like being compared to the Creator, but it’s hard not to see him in that light. Burton is the architect of an online world that is now home to 100,000 digital “organisms.” Located at www.sodaplay.com, Burton’s world gives users the power to build software models that in......

Flow, Baby, Flow

Photos courtesy of CLUI It is growing. Silently and swiftly beneath our feet, it is coming into being. The neurons of its brain are reaching out, branching and making connections with one another. Soon they will be interlinked to form one of the largest and most complex “minds” on earth......

The Great Race

Photos by Ryan Donahue Bob is having a bad day. Rain has left a slick of water across the asphalt, and reflections bouncing off the surface are confusing his sensors. Directed to avoid a simple barrier, he loops past it, then proceeds to drive in circles like a puppy chasing......

Dangerous Liaison

Illustration by P. Jay Fidler As Bush’s proposed military budget — $401.7 billion, not counting Iraq and Afghanistan — sickeningly reminds us, numbers have always figured large in the annals of war. Behind the dollars lies another story about the increasing dependence of the modern military on numerical and mathematical......

Beyond the Fold

Photos by Anthony Scoggins, Mingei International Museum Satoshi Kamiya’s wasp is so technically perfect it almost looks as if it could fly. Two sets of precisely formed wings sprout from a body whose sculptural detail might well suffice for an anatomy class. Delicately jointed legs end in tiny two-toed feet;......

Animating Mars

Photo courtesy JPL At the Pasadena Convention Center on Saturday night, where the Planetary Society was holding a “Wild About Mars” symposium, science-fiction legend Ray Bradbury told the 2,000-strong audience that we are going to Mars “to witness and celebrate the universe.” You have “the gift of life,” he continued,......

8 Terrifying Advances in Biological Warfare

Even Saddam Hussein and the madmen behind the Soviet’s infamous Biopreparat facility understood that getting serious about bio-weaponry means turning to the animal kingdom. Its denizens not only have hundreds of millions of years’ head start in Research & Development, they’ve been free to innovate unchecked by moral restraint. Anthrax,......
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