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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 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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    Play, Informal Learning Cultivate Kids’ Interest in STEM

    A visitor learns to solder and connect a circuit in a workshop at the New York Hall of Science's Maker Space.

    When I was eight years old I couldn’t speak English. I’d been born in another country and came to the U.S. because my father’s postdoctoral medical research brought us here. Frustrated with my inability to communicate with others, I stopped trying. I didn’t want to play with the other kids anyway – at least that’s [...]

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    The Hallmarks of Cancer 9: Reprogramming Energy Metabolism

    Cancer cells consume more glucose than normal cells. This is exploited when imaging cancer. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) combined with Computer Tomography (PET/CT) is used to detect the absorption of the glucose analogue fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) by tumours. In this image, besides the normal accumulation of the FDG molecule in the heart, bladder, kidneys, and brain, liver metastases of a colorectal tumor are visible in the abdominal region. (Image credit: Jens Maus, Wikimedia Commons)

    The Hallmarks of Cancer are ten underlying principles shared by all cancers. You can read the first eight Hallmarks of Cancer articles here. The ninth Hallmark of Cancer is defined as “Reprogramming Energy Metabolism”. Uncontrolled growth defines cancer. Growth requires a cancer’s cells to replicate all of their cellular components; their DNA, RNA, proteins and [...]

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    Scientists Team Up to Talk about Climate Change

    People's Climate March, New York City. (South Bend Voice via Flickr)

    As many as 400,000 people voiced their concern about climate change during the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21. Held just before the United Nations Climate Summit, the march was one of many events held around the world. It was the largest climate march in history and gave the impression that [...]

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    How the Ansari X Prize Altered the Trajectory of Human Spaceflight

    SpaceShipOne in her new home in the National Air and Space Museum. (Credit: Ad Meskens via Wikimedia Commons)

    Looking up into the bright Mojave sky in 2004, I strained to keep my eyes on the tiny spaceship 50,000 feet up. “Three, two, one… release, release, release!” came the call over the loudspeakers. I held my breath as I watched the rocket motor ignite and the spaceship ascend on a plume of fire with [...]

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    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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