This December 2004 edition of Scientific American has a cover story about viruses, the bordering-on-inanimate beings that hold an uncanny power over the web of life. Also in this issue: new findings about natural brain chemicals that act like those in marijuana and can be used to treat pain and anxiety; results of a new computer analysis that casts doubt on the recent theory that 15th-century artists used mirrors to paint their landscapes; and more on the numerous dinosaur species recently discovered to have thrived in northern Alaska 70 million years ago.
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