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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.

  • Battle of the ‘Staches Raises Money for Men’s Health

    Duke's Movember team: the MoDukes. (Photo credit: Shawn Rocco)

    People who donate money or fundraise for a cause are often silent heroes. However, unlike many fundraising efforts, it’s readily apparent who’s participating in one that’s currently taking the nation by its facial hair. The fundraiser in question is none other than the Movember movement. Its mascot? The glorious moustache…or ‘stache…or mo. It is, quite [...]

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    Practicing Narrative Medicine

    Just listen. (Credit: Rick&Brenda Beerhorst via Flickr)

    Since the first day of medical school, I was in breathless anticipation of my third year. I came to Harvard with a background in creative writing and the big draw of medicine for me lay in its compendium of human stories. In college, I volunteered at local hospitals where my primary responsibility was to go [...]

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    Technology Revitalizes Hands-On Education in Classrooms

    Left: TinkerCad design of the U.S.S Monitor. Rigth: Student team's 3-D printed model of the U.S.S Monitor.

    Technology has abstracted the educational sphere in the way it has abstracted all other aspects of our lives. Pencils and paper have given way to the more amorphous cloud-based computing, kids are presenting more with Prezi than on poster boards, and work can be turned in online instead of in-hand. Like any technological “progress” or [...]

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    Catching Big Mama Fish Curbs Ocean Fertility

    A gravid female cod at the U.K.'s MacDuff Aquarium. (Credit: Bruce McAdam via Flickr)

    Scientists recently confirmed what anglers have known for centuries—there’s something special about a big mama fish. The bigger the fish, the better the bragging rights—and often, the bigger paycheck or prize. For centuries, this has led anglers and fishers to selectively target the largest fish in a school. But a new study published in a [...]

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    Where Are the Real Errors in Political Polls?

    2012 United States presidential election results by county, on a color spectrum from Democratic blue to Republican red. (Credit: Mark Newman, Department of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan)

    “Clinton crushes Biden in hypothetical 2016 matchup: Poll.” This was the headline of a MSNBC article on July 17, a full two years before the election in question. In the fine print, NBC reported that the margin of error was around 2 to 5 percent, which would appear to be small enough to trust the [...]

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    The Ebola Outbreak: Hopeful News from the Front Lines

    A "Prevent Ebola" bumper sticker commonly seen around Sierra Leone.

    The coverage of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa by U.S. media has often seemed unremittingly grim. So it was with some trepidation that I boarded a plane for Sierra Leone. I was part of a field assessment team assembled by Project HOPE, the international humanitarian organization. The country’s first lady, Sia Nyama Koroma, invited [...]

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    Whistleblower Who Exposed White House Tampering with Climate Science Dies

    Rick Piltz passed away last Saturday. He spent decades working in the federal government and state government in Texas, and was a prominent whistleblower during the Bush administration. He later founded Climate Science Watch. I first met Rick Piltz after reading a 2005 New York Times story exposing a concerted effort by the Bush White [...]

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    The Top 10 Martin Gardner Scientific American Articles

    Martin Gardner. (Courtesy of Colm Mulcahy)

    The “Mathematical Games” column in Scientific American that began in January 1957 is a legend in publishing, even though it’s been almost 30 years since the last one appeared. The columns are still considered models of clarity and elegance for introducing fresh and engaging ideas in mathematics in non-technical ways. As we pause to celebrate [...]

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    Lifestyle Choices Could Affect Gene Sequences That Code for Cancer

    Couch potatoing. (Credit: El Alvi via Flickr)

    It’s no secret that diet and exercise can directly impact our health. But for many people, genetic predisposition to disease – be it hypertension or diabetes or cancer – is often perceived as a risk that is out of their hands. New findings in the field of epigenetics, however, suggest that we may have more [...]

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    Disease Detectives Investigate Outbreaks at Home and Abroad

    Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer Dr. Leisha Nolen preparing to depart on assignment to West Africa in response to the 2014 Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreak across Guinea, northern Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Pictured atop the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) materiel case to her left are some of the requisite medical supplies she would be taking including phlebotomy vials, and disposable face masks. (Credit: CDC)

    The medical sleuths of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been thrust into the limelight with the recent Ebola epidemic. Charged with chasing diseases and stopping outbreaks, they’re a geeky bunch of young doctors, veterinarians and scientists, who prefer to work behind the scenes. I can call them geeks because I was one [...]

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