In this issue of Scientific American, the cover article, "The Semantic Web," is certain to spark lots of debate; the father of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, along with James Hendler and Ora Lassila, predict the next step in the development of the Web. How old is the universe? Astronomers tended to agree on a rough number, until new evidence made the answer even trickier. Brian Chaboyer has the story in "Rip Van Twinkle." The last great onshore oil field in America may lie beneath the nation's last great coastal wilderness reserve. W. Wayt Gibbs reports on "The Arctic Oil and Wildlife Refuge." New research on high-speed underwater travel is propelling secret torpedoes and other naval systems at hundreds of miles per hour. Steven Ashley reports in "Warp Drive Underwater." Also, can most cancers, heart disease, and other chronic ills be the result of infections? Paul Ewald thinks so, and Steve Mirsky has this profile.
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