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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.

  • 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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    Facing Up to Online Murder and Other Cyber Crimes

    Crime scence, do not cross. (Credit: Yumi Kimura/Flickr)

    A recent report from Europol’s European Cybercrime Center includes a forecast that the world’s first “online murder” will likely occur before the end of 2014. Obviously this is a frightening concept and one that a number of news outlets quickly seized upon with ominous headlines. However, there’s a far more dangerous story that underlies this [...]

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    Artificial Sweeteners May Have Despicable Impacts on Gut Microbes

    Sweet'N Low is a brand of artificial sweetener made primarily from granulated saccharin. (Credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr)

    I find it ironic that Thanksgiving coincides with American Diabetes Month. In honor of that irony, two recently published studies have suggested a possible link between what you eat, how it impacts the behavior of the microbes living in your gut, and type II diabetes. To further explain, allow me use the most adorable analogy [...]

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    U.S. Particle Physics Program Aims for the Future

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory's Main Ring and Main Injector as seen from the air. (Credit: Reidar Hahn/Fermilab)

    In the last few years, stories have abounded in the press of the successes of the Large Hadron Collider, most notably the discovery of the Higgs boson. This has led some to speculate that European research is ascendant while U.S. research is falling behind. While there is no argument that U.S. particle physics budgets have [...]

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    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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