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cover of May 30, 2015 issue

Bryn Nelson's Articles

  • Autism unlocked

    Experts are learning how to diagnose this brain disorder in infancy. That may be early enough to allow nerve cells in the brain to develop new connections — ones that form detours around autism-affected areas.
  • Seeds of the Future

    On an unusual old farm in New York City, workers are stashing away the seeds of the future.

    In this unlikely place, researchers are putting the seeds from flowering plants and trees in a sleeplike state called suspended animation. Many years from now, other workers will rouse the slumbering plant embryos and plant them where they're most needed.

    These seeds are like the legendary Rip van Winkle, who fell asleep under a tree and woke up 20 years later. The small farm, called the Greenbelt Native Plant Center, is part of a global effort to save threatened plants and trees.

  • Lessons from a lonely tortoise

    PUERTO AYORA, ECUADOR — At first glance, the world's rarest creature looked just like a big boulder.

    I had scanned a large, plant-filled enclosure several times before locating him: a 70-something-year-old tortoise named Lonesome George. The tortoise weighs 88 kilograms (nearly 200 pounds), but he was barely visible beyond several bushes, and his head and legs were tucked neatly within his shell.

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