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Ancient Shell Beads Could Be First Sign of Modern Culture

Three beadlike shells from ancient Israel and Algeria suggest that humans were engaging in symbolic behavior at least 100,000 years ago—25,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Brazilian Trees May Harbor Millions of Unidentified Species of Bacteria

The Atlantic forest of Brazil, which in the past 400 years has been reduced to less than 8 percent of its original size, could contain as many as 13 million unidentified species of bacteria, a new study has found.

Flaws in Placenta May Be Early Sign of Autism

The earliest indicator yet of autism may be the presence of flawed cells in the placenta, scientists say. The findings could lead to earlier diagnosis of the developmental disorder.


Visit www.sciam.com/podcast to download our free weekly audio program, Science Talk. Recent guests include Pulitzer Prize-winning naturalist E. O. Wilson and Ben & Jerry's ice cream scientist Derek Spors.

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Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

The solar Stirling engine is progressively becoming a viable alternative to solar panels for its higher efficiency. Stirling engines might be the best way to harvest the power provided by the sun. This is an easy-to-understand explanation of how Stirling engines work, the different types, and why they are more efficient than steam engines.

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