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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.

  • A Guardian “Agent” to Protect You from Digital Fraud

    The orignial GORT, a member of an interstellar police force in the 1951 science fiction film "The Day the Earth Stood Still". (Credit Peter Petrus via Flickr)

    Today, maintaining privacy without guided assistance is an onerous task, whose initial costs are high, immediate rewards low and solutions fragile and constantly evolving. The moment after perfectly balancing your Facebook privacy settings, a new “feature” is introduced and suddenly potential employers can view your bachelor party photos. While you admit you should password protect [...]

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    Hybrid Corals: Sex Gone Awry or Saving Grace?

    Tiny egg and sperm bundles being released from an elkhorn coral branch. (Credit: Dr. Mark Vermeij, Carmabi Foundation)

    As the full moons of late summer and fall rise, so too, does the libido of threatened staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) and elkhorn (Acropora palmata) corals. Awakened from a year of sexual slumber, each species shakes off the shackles of celibacy to engage in a mass-spawning a few days after the brightest nights. Facing declines of [...]

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    Technology Unlocks the Mysteries of Bird Flight

    These bald ibises are keeping careful track of the wingflaps of the birds around them—and timing their own to catch upwash—enabling them to maximize energy savings while flying long distances. (Credit: Markus Unsold, Waldrappteam)

    Bob Dylan asked: “Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?” Sure, this is a metaphor (in Dylan’s case, for a lost love) but it works because the complexities of avian flight—from migration and navigation to group dynamics—have long been a mystery, one with a preponderance of ideas, but few firm answers. Of course, [...]

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    Ig Nobel Prizes Make You Laugh, Then Think

    A humorous demonstration at the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony of an experimental treatment for uncontrolled bleeding. Gary Dryfoos is the volunteer with pork hanging from his nose. (Credit: Alexey Eliseev/Improbable Research)

      CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—What happens in the brains of people who see Jesus in a piece of toast? What are the physics of slipping on a banana peel? Are people who see an ugly painting more pain-sensitive than if they see a beautiful one? How do reindeer react to humans disguised as polar bears? Oh, and [...]

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    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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