The Press: Window on the Frontier

On the December cover of Scientific American is a four-color portrait of a camel wearing a nose cone and placidly taking a metabolism test. The table of contents scarcely suggests light reading: "Nucleic Acids and Proteins," "Differentiation in Social Amoebae," "The Proto-Castles of Sardinia." Even the department of games beginning on page 166 is strictly for mathematicians: three computer programers named Ames, Baker and Coombs set out to decide who pays for the beer, but instead of flipping a coin they apply algebraic group theory. (Baker pays.)

Far from being deterred by such formidable...