Science Illustrated

Science Illustrated May-Jun-12

Science Illustrated is an upbeat, visually spectacular gateway to cutting-edge science, which covers a tremendous range of subjects: from paleontology to space exploration, and medical breakthroughs to the latest environmental insights. Science Illustrated aims to report on the world of science in a way that's dynamic, engaging and accessible for all.

United States
Bonnier Corporation
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3 min.

In shoals, the individual fish constantly move and yet remain close to each other. The fish are in close sensorial contact and react quickly, which allows them to adjust to even slight changes of direction by the other fish. Vision is probably the most important sense that shoaling fish use, but their sideline organ is also important — it helps them register each other's movements and adapt to any changes. Collisions in fish shoals can't be avoided, but for the individual fish, this is a secondary concern to remaining in the shoal, which reduces the individual's risk during predator attacks. For periods of their lives, most fish swim together with peers in larger or smaller groups. Often, the groups are only loosely linked, but in approximately half of all bony fish…

8 min.
did “mona lisa” die in a convent?

More than 500 years ago, a woman sat for a painter. The painter was Leonardo da Vinci, and his portrait of her, called Mona Lisa, became world famous — but the model's name did not. Now, Italian archaeologists searching for her grave in an abandoned convent in Florence have unearthed a skeleton beneath the floor that just may help them solve one of art history's greatest mysteries. Mona Lisa is a man. Or a princess. Or perhaps a prostitute, a transvestite or Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci's own mother. The world-famous painting, one of the greatest attractions at the Louvre (which is itself one of France's greatest attractions), could also be a self-portrait. Or perhaps the subject is not a real person at all, but simply the product of the artist's…

1 min.
top 10

Every computer contains a processor, which makes calculations. In many new computers, two or more calculation units are integrated into one microchip, resulting in a processor with several cores. Supercomputers are systems in which many powerful computers — each with several processors, all of which have many cores, or calculation units — are connected. (The world's fastest supercomputer has 705,024 cores.) The cores contain a few gigabytes of memory each, in which they continuously store calculations, so that everything is saved and can be retrieved if an error occurs. Liquid from a cooling tower keeps the system from overheating. 1 K COMPUTER 2 TIANHE-1A 3 JAGUAR 4 NEBULAE 5 TSUBAME 2.0 6 CIELO 7 PLEIADES 8 HOPPER 9 TERA 100 10 ROADRUNNER…

1 min.
monster processor powers the fastest supercomputer

It comes as no surprise to learn that the world's fastest computer (by far) takes up a large hall, or that its name is derived from the Japanese word kei, which means 10 quadrillion. On Nov. 2, 2011, K made 10 million billion calculations a second; equally impressive, during a test run that lasted 29 hours, its 88,128 processors did not register a single failure. With a capacity of 10.51 petaflops, K is already faster than the five next computers on the top 10 list combined. Its power consumption exceeds 10 million watts. That's quite a lot, but considering its capacity, K is actually one of the most efficient supercomputers. K will be used in many branches of research to do a number of different things, such as developing new…

1 min.
jaguar calculates climate, earthquakes and more

What would happen if an earthquake that measured 8.0 on the Richter scale shook Southern California for six minutes? Scientists now know, thanks to America's Jaguar supercomputer. The powerful computer calculated geological data over a 24-hour period, resulting in the most precise simulation of an earthquake to date. In fact, since it was put into service in 2005, the Tennessee-based Jaguar has been very useful to a number of scientific causes. It's been used to simulate how blood flows through our blood vessels by calculating the way 260 million red blood cells interact with blood plasma; it has also calculated how hydrogen will fuse into helium in future fusion power plants. It's also been employed in the study of how hurricanes develop and in modeling change in the global climate during…

8 min.
three types of bacteria dominate

By mapping all bacteria species in the intestines of many people of different nationalities, scientists have discovered three different intestinal types. Every one of us has one of the three types, and it has nothing to do with nationality or ethnicity. Each of the three types is dominated by one bacterium — Bacteroides, Prevotella, or Ruminococcus — and each has special characteristics that may influence our individual metabolism and health. Whenever you feel lonely, think about the trillions of bacteria moving about your guts and the fact that they outnumber your own cells by far. There may be more than 1,000 different species of intestinal bacteria, which constitute more than 2 pounds of your body weight. Consequently, the human intestine is one of the most complex, species-rich ecosystems in nature. And in…