What We’re Reading: Quantum Quirks, Dying Oaks and Victorian Women

BY Jenny Marder  July 18, 2011 at 9:44 AM EST

Raffaello Cargo Module Returned to Shuttle Bay

space.jpg The Atlantis astronauts have loaded nearly three tons of trash and broken hardware onto the Raffaello cargo module and moved it to the shuttle’s payload bay in preparation for the return to Earth. The space shuttle is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station just after 2 a.m. ET on Tuesday and, weather permitting, to land at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at 5:57 a.m. ET on Thursday. The piece includes a timeline of the crew’s planned activities for flight day 11, which is Monday. (William Harwood, Spaceflight Now)

Scientists Fight a Deadly Oak-Tree Disease

New York Times.jpg“On a hot summer day in 2008, a pair of plant disease researchers made an extraordinary discovery as they toured a hillside forest in San Mateo County: a stand of trees that had not been infected by the killer disease known as sudden oak death.” A sad and fascinating story on a tree disease and a large experiment to develop treatment for it. Left unchecked, the New York Times reports, sudden oak death is expected to kill 90 percent of California’s oaks and coastal live oaks. (John Upton, New York Times)

Crime’s digital past

ScienceNews.jpgThis story looks at techniques that have allowed scientists to digitally search trials from a London courthouse that go back more than 300 years. They are searching for criminal trends and language patterns, and the trends they’ve already found include the surging popularity of the plea bargain after 1825 and the growing independence of Victorian women. The trial record is 127 million words long and consists of 197,000 Old Bailey trials. (BruceBower, Science News)

Quantum quirk makes carbon dating possible

A short, fun story on the mysterious isotope carbon-14 and why it is so much slower to decay than other atoms. A new study by a team from Iowa State University may hold the answer. (David Shiga, New Scientist)