By James Trefil Physics Professor
James Trefil takes the reader on an exhilarating travel around the borders of present medical knowledge-from astronomy to genetics, from info know-how to cosmology, the nice contested questions that preoccupy researchers at the present time and may turn into headlines day after today. In based, witty three-page summations, Dr. Trefil "makes feel of technological know-how for the remainder of us" (Washington Post).
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Extra info for 101 Things You Don't Know About Science and No One Else Does Either
It would be as if we had discovered not only that all the buildings were made of bricks but also that if we looked closely enough, all the different fasteners nails, glue, mortar, and so onwere made of one kind of material. Mortar is one way that constituent parts interact to form larger structures. In the universe the role of mortar is played by the forces that govern the way one bit of matter interacts with another. On first glance, there appear to be four such forces in nature the familiar forces of gravity and electromagnetism and, on the atomic scale, the strong force (which holds the nucleus together) and the weak force (which governs some kinds of radioactive decay).
It may come as a surprise to learn that we can detect fossil evidence of organisms as microscopic as bacteria, but paleontologists have been doing just that for some time. The technique works like this: you find a rock formed from the ooze on an ocean bottom long ago, cut it into slices, and examine the slices under an ordinary microscope. If you're lucky (and highly skilled) you will find impressions left by long-dead cells. 5 billion years old. Life on earth must have started well before that.
But as we have come to realize just how fast life arose on our planet and how fast prebiotic reactions can take place in the laboratory, this thinking has started to change. Many scientists in this fieldperhaps even mostnow think that life didn't originate by a series of chance events but was driven by natural laws. One < previous page page_54 next page > < previous page page_55 next page > Page 55 important test of this notion, of course, would be to find the remains of life that originated elsewhere (on Mars, say) and see if it's like us.