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Commentary invited by editors of Scientific American
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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.

  • 5 Ways to Thwart Illegal Drug Dealing Online

    eBay headquarters in San Jose, California. (CoolCeasar via Flickr(

    Recent reports from ABC News and the UK’s Mail on Sunday suggest eBay is providing a platform for sellers engaged in an illegal prescription drug trade. An ecommerce pioneer now ranked number 250 on the Forbes magazine rankings of the largest public companies on Earth, eBay’s corporate success doesn’t appear to translate into sufficient success [...]

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    9/11 Museum Helps Us Remember What We Can Never Forget

    60-foot-long “Victims’ Quilt” designed by Wisconsin quilt maker Connie Daniel in consultation with Jeannie Ammermann. (Augie Ray via Flickr)

    The first exhibit of the National September 11 Memorial Museum is a multimedia display entitled, “We Remember”. Sixteen speakers surround visitors with a barrage of voices as accompanying text is projected onto a world map: Someone barged in and said, “Oh my God. That plane has just crashed into the World Trade Center.” I heard [...]

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    Are “Sugar Daddies” to Blame for HIV Transmission in Africa?

    "Say No to Sugar Daddies" billboard in Kampala, Uganda in 2007. (Credit: Chris Guillebeau via Flickr)

    Preventing the sexual transmission of HIV is an urgent public health priority. With more than two million people newly infected with HIV every year, lives hang in the balance. At the same time, messaging about preventing the sexual transmission of HIV is the ultimate act of cross-cultural communication. In our haste to save lives, it [...]

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    A Plan to Rescue the Blue Planet

    An orange roughy swims along Southwest Indian Ridge approximately 1,000 meters deep. Members of this species can live more than 100 years, but have been overfished globally by bottom trawl fisheries.

    Most of us experience the ocean looking out from a beach during vacation or maybe flying over it in a plane. It seems vast, ancient and invulnerable. It is hard to imagine that up to 80 percent of life lives below the waves, throughout 1.3 billion cubic kilometers of water and across a seabed comprising [...]

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    How Would Immortality Affect a Vampire’s Memory?

    Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as Adam and Eve in Jim Jarmusch's "Only Loves Left Alive". (Credit: Sony Pictures)

    About 30 years ago I saw my first Jim Jarmusch movie, Stranger than Paradise at the Detroit Film Theatre, a popular site for indie film screening situated in the Detroit Institute of Arts. It is fitting that Jarmusch’s latest film, Only Lovers Left Alive, staring Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as Adam and Eve, takes [...]

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    Food Fraud: It’s What’s for Dinner?

    Credit: Windujedi/iStock/Thinkstock

    What’s for dinner would seem to be one of life’s more straightforward questions. However, if my 36 years of food safety experience have taught me anything, it is that the answer to that question isn’t as simple as it once was. Most consumers would be surprised to find just how complex simple meals have become. [...]

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    Crop Diversity Is Key to Agricultural Climate Adaptation

    Cassava leaves. (Credit: Neil Palmer/CIAT via Flickr)

    News out of Harvard suggests that not only will climate change affect how food is grown, but it will also lower the nutrition levels of what is grown—wheat, corn and rice in particular. While this could be a major cause for concern, scientists know that it is possible to breed new varieties of these staple [...]

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    Sea Star Deaths along the West Coast Elicit Close Study

    Sea star at Haystack Rock, Oregon, with a small white lesion on the arm pointing down. (Credit: Lisa Gardiner)

    People woke early to greet the low tide at Cannon Beach, Oregon, in late July. They wandered through sand to a pillar of stone at the edge of the Pacific called Haystack Rock. Some were looking up at birds, but most of us were looking down into the tide pools. We were saying hello to [...]

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    Europe Should Reject the Call to Eliminate Its Science Adviser

    Barroso Glover

    More and more often, societies around the world are facing a conflict that puts us all at risk. People reject scientific evidence when it does not fit their worldviews and values, challenging governments to make evidence-based policies that do the most good for the most people over the long term, but also respond to short-term [...]

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    The Glory of Math Is to Matter

    The gardens of Versailles in 1746, by Jean Delagrive.

    In 1842, when the famed German mathematician Carl Gustav Jacobi was invited to speak to a scientific meeting in Manchester, he had a surprise in store for his English hosts. “It is the glory of science to be of no use,” he announced to the startled gathering of physical scientists. The true aim of science [...]

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