In French, taille means “cut” and fer is “iron,” so Louis Taillefer’s name literally means “cut iron.” One evening at Cambridge University in England, working in the famous Cavendish physics laboratory, Taillefer was making an alloy with special magnetic properties for his doctoral research. He had to melt a combination of platinum and iron in a high-tech...

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featured question

Q: Is gravity lumpy? If you were standing in a valley, then on a mountain, would your weight be less then become more, as you walked up from the valley to the mountain top, due to having a changing amount of mass under you? What if you were flying a plane over a flat area then passed a mountain? Wouldn't you be attracted to the mountain to some degree? Wouldn't this then imply that gravity has a shape, which is a function of the shape and mass of the object?

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In the news

Ancient Virus DNA behind Stem Cell Power

March 31, 2014

A virus that invaded the genomes of humanity's ancestors millions of years ago now plays a critical role in the embryonic stem cells from which all cells in the human body derive, Canadian research shows. Computational biologist Guillaume Bourque at McGill University in Montreal, co-authored the study published online March 30 in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. Read more about this at National Geographic.

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