- News Home
5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- About Us
Dyes, Planets, and Peas
23 February 1998 7:00 pm
Editor's Note: Today we revisit three ScienceThens, first posted last year.
A Discovery to Dye For
Tuesday, 24 February: Today is the birthday of Carl Graebe, a German organic chemist born in 1841 whose work helped create the synthetic dye industry. Graebe and co-worker C. Liebermann discovered that a red dye called alizarin--then made from madder, a Eurasian herb--was a derivative of anthracene, a crystalline cyclic hydrocarbon. The duo built on the discovery to invent a commercial method of synthesizing alizarin, which became one of the early products of the German dyestuffs industry. Graebe also introduced the chemical terms "ortho," "meta," and "para," well known to organic chemistry students, which indicate the position of groups attached to a benzene ring.
Discoveries by Induction
Thursday, 26 February: Today is the birthday of Dominique François Jean Arago, a French astronomer and physicist born in 1786. Arago is best known for his discovery of the chromosphere--the sun's lower atmosphere--which is composed primarily of hydrogen gas, and for his accurate estimates of the diameters of the planets. In physics, Arago found that a rotating copper disk deflects a magnetic needle held above it, a phenomenon later explained in terms of magnetic induction. He also showed that light waves move more slowly through a dense medium than through air. Arago entered politics in 1848 as Minister of War and Marine and was responsible for abolishing slavery in the French colonies.
Revealing Our Genetic Heritage
Saturday, 28 February: On this day in 1865, Austrian monk Gregor Johann Mendel presented seminal results of his plant-breeding experiments at a meeting of the National Sciences Society in Brno, Czechoslovakia. Although Mendel's work passed unnoticed for decades, it became the basis for the science of genetics. After 8 years of cultivating some 28,000 pea plants and analyzing seven pairs of seed and plant traits, Mendel uncovered the fundamentals of heredity, including the concepts of dominant and recessive traits, and recombination. Mendel was a pioneer in using statistical analysis of large sets of numbers to extract laws of nature from seemingly random phenomena.