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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.

  • Why We Need More Scientists in Davos

    WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM/swiss-image.ch/Photo Jolanda Flubacher

    Science at the World Economic Forum is about inspiration, solutions and collaboration. First and foremost, leaders come together in Davos to address global challenges such as antibiotic resistance, climate change and understanding the human mind. Science has a critical role to play helping leaders understand why we have these problems, and increasingly leaders are looking [...]

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    Despite Esteem for Science, Public at Odds with Scientists on Major Issues

    Scientists and their work have an important place in every major aspect of American life. Many hope that advances in science will improve people’s lives and enhance the economy. They are anxious to understand what innovations will disrupt existing daily activities and business routines. Policy arguments about science-related issues have held center stage in the [...]

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    Genetic Memory: How We Know Things We Never Learned

    I met my first savant 52 years ago and have been intrigued with that remarkable condition ever since. One of the most striking and consistent things in the many savants I have seen is that that they clearly know things they never learned. Leslie Lemke is a musical virtuoso even though he has never had [...]

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    Virtual Dissection Method Could Reinvigorate Zoology

    A 3D rendering of an earthworm made from a micro-computed tomography imagery dataset. This specimen was virtually dissected using the ‘wedge dissect’ tool in the open-source visualization software Drishti.

    Last summer, researchers demonstrated that non-invasive imaging combined with a staining technique enables the fast comparison and study of earthworm species and other animals in unprecedented detail. In the first comparative morphology study of its kind, the research team produced three-dimensional images of individual muscle fibers and single blood cells in earthworms. The technique allowed [...]

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    How Overeating May Contribute to a Metabolic “Traffic Jam”

    Oooh, donut! (Mark H. Anbinder/Flickr)

    In what has been dubbed “The Great Crawl of China”, in August 2010 commuters in Beijing accumulated along a 74.5-mile-long stretch of road for a preposterous 11 days straight. No mere rush-hour delay, the absurdity of this pile-up—one of the worst in recorded history—suggests that multiple factors were to blame. Just as fewer cars and [...]

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    Fight at the Museum: Confronting Visitor Biases

    The Field Museum in Chicago. (Ancheta Wis/Wikimedia Commons)

    Midway through the school year, parents and teachers are starting to plan (and fundraise) for winter and spring field trips. Among the most popular destinations is the science museum. The Association of Science-Technology Centers estimates that 12.1 million children in the United States visited science museums as part of a school group in 2013, accounting [...]

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    Stephen Hawking, Hawking Incorporated, and the Myth of the Lone Genius

    With assistants looking on, the famed cosmologist Stephen Hawking experiences weightlessness aboard a swooping airliner in this image from 2007. Credit: Zero Gravity Corp.

    Comfortably sitting in the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas in Japantown in San Francisco, I was watching The Theory of Everything with an audience of hundreds. Like them, I was eager to watch the life of Hawking; like them I was moved by his extraordinary story; like them I was restraining myself from crying, especially when the [...]

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    Forecasting the Sun’s Fury: How Artificial Intelligence Can Predict Solar Flares

    Credit: NASA

    A couple of months ago, the sun sported the largest sunspot we’ve seen in the last 24 years. This monstrous spot, visible to the naked eye (that is, without magnification, but with protective eyewear of course), launched more than 100 flares. The number of the spots on the sun ebbs and flows cyclically, every 11 [...]

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    How Networks Are Revolutionizing Scientific (and Maybe Human) Thought

    Visualization of social network analysis. (Calvinius/Wikimedia Commons)

    Science and common sense are alike grounded in human experience. Yet these ways of thinking about things are often in conflict. Sometimes the simplicity of most commonsense explanations can make it hard to win people over to the complexity and uncertainties of most scientific arguments. Consider the textbook case of the mathematician and astronomer Nicolaus [...]

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    Let’s Expand Terrestrial Parks into the Ocean

    A southern elephant seal colony on Argentina’s Patagonia coast. Argentina has for several years been expanding a number of its coastal protected parks for penguins, sea lions and elephant seals to the limits of its territorial sea. (Credit: Cristián Samper/WCS)

    “A land ethic,” the great naturalist writer Aldo Leopold observed toward the end of his famous Sand County Almanac, “reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of land.” This philosophy of care for the earth’s ecosystems and species provides one of the [...]

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