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    The editors of Scientific American regularly encounter perspectives on science and technology that we believe our readers would find thought-provoking, fascinating, debatable and challenging. The guest blog is a forum for such opinions. The views expressed belong to the author and are not necessarily shared by Scientific American.

  • The Quest for Better Broccoli Starts with More Science

    Image: Puamelia/Flickr

    Everyone knows that broccoli is good for you. What was not known—until researchers examined how broccoli was prepared for distribution—is that frozen broccoli lacked the cancer-fighting nutrients that the fresh vegetable provided. With a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), however, scientists at the University of Illinois discovered [...]

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    Cord-Blood Research Sits Poised for Therapeutic Discovery

    Blood is extracted from an umbilical cord. (Blood and Tissue Bank/Flickr)

    Whenever one examines any area of scientific inquiry, there are two important things to understand: where the science is today, and where it may lead us in the future. To examine only the former is to engage in half an inquiry and create the perception that things in this particular area have reached a dead [...]

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    How Many Digits of Pi Do You Really Need to Know? Find Out with This Bar Bet

    Pi 1

    A physicist or engineer who uses π (pi) in numerical calculations may need to have access to 5 or 15 decimal place approximations to this special number, but most of us—mathematicians included—don’t need to know more (decimal-wise) than the fact that it’s roughly 3.14. Yet there is an inexplicable nerdy subculture far removed from real [...]

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    How Identity Evolves in the Age of Genetic Imperialism

    Image: Wildpixel/iStock/Thinkstock

    From designer babies to women whose genitals smell like peaches, 2014 graced us with a taste of the hope, hype and superficiality of business as usual in Silicon Valley. It is tempting to listen to those who tell us that there is a gene-hack to solve every “problem”—that DNA is just a code to personalize [...]

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    Beyond Resveratrol: The Anti-Aging NAD Fad

    Aging cells. Old human fibroblasts showing their mitochondria in large branched networks (red), their nuclear DNA (blue) and sites of DNA damage (green). (Image: Glyn Nelson/Flickr)

    Whenever I see my 10-year-old daughter brimming over with so much energy that she jumps up in the middle of supper to run around the table, I think to myself, “those young mitochondria.” Mitochondria are our cells’ energy dynamos. Descended from bacteria that colonized other cells about 2 billion years, they get flaky as we [...]

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    Birdwatchers, Hunters Train Their Scopes on Conservation

    A group of men stand birdwatching. (Ryan Hagerty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia)

    Sparked by Richard Louv’s book on Nature-Deficit Disorder, many organizations, agencies, teachers and the White House have made the push to get people outside for the benefit of their mental and physical health. Now there is another reason: to benefit environmental health. In a new study my colleagues and I show that outdoor recreationists—in this [...]

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    How Designers Can Improve Health Care for Everyone

    Designers craft experiences that function with humans, not in spite of them.

    The last place anyone expects to find a designer is in a hospital, clinic or operating room, but those are exactly the spaces where I embed myself. My first step toward this world occurred when I made fourteen paintings of microorganisms that explored the relationship between human development and disease. I was a sophomore at [...]

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    Effective Communication, Better Science

    science communication

    Science communication is part of a scientist’s everyday life. Scientists must give talks, write papers and proposals, communicate with a variety of audiences, and educate others. Thus to be successful, regardless of field or career path, scientists must learn how to communicate. Moreover, scientists must learn how to communicate effectively. In other words, to be [...]

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    Project Superhero: Using Pop Culture to Inspire Kids’ Interest in Science

    Jesse as Batgirl. (Illustration: Kris Pearn)

    In my pop-sci writing, mainly here, at Psychology Today, and in the books Becoming Batman and Inventing Iron Man, I use superheroes as foils for communicating science. I have encouraged other scientists to pursue similar approaches in articles such as “From Claude Bernard to the Batcave and Beyond: Using Batman as a hook for physiology [...]

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    Why Can’t Gravity Believers and Skeptics Get Along?

    Credit: The Mad LOLscientist/Flickr (Original photo by Richard Peters)

    Multiple media outlets around the world covered a study published last week in the journal Nature Climate Change.* This study sought to explain why “believers” in climate change cannot get along with “skeptics” and how “believers” can argue the matter better to convince “skeptics.” Seems like a fascinating dive into the sociology of science, until [...]

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