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Guest Blog


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.

  • “Gene Drives” and CRISPR Could Revolutionize Ecosystem Management

    picture of adult cane toad

    A note from the authors: With this guest blog post we want to share the key features of an innovative method for the high-precision genome editing of wild populations that has been outlined by our team at the Wyss Institute, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard School of Public Health. Our technical description of the [...]

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    Physician-Scientists: The Newest Endangered Species

    Painting by Vincent van Gogh

    Can excellent scientists be excellent physicians at the same time? “I would like to ask you about a trip to Thailand.” This is not the kind of question I expected from a patient in my cardiology clinic at the Veterans Administration hospital in Indianapolis. Especially since this patient lived in rural Indiana and did not [...]

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    Aging: Too Much Telomerase Can Be as Bad as Too Little

    How do I knock off thirty years from my age? Faust, the protagonist in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s famous play, poses this question to Mephistopheles in the chapter Hexenküche (Witches’ kitchen). Mephistopheles provides some pretty good advice – considering that he is the devil and this fictitious exchange takes place in the dark Middle Ages: Begib [...]

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    When Scientists Experiment on Themselves: H. pylori and Ulcers

    In the summer of 1984, the Australian scientist Neil Noakes took some bacteria from a petri dish, mixed them with lukewarm beef extract – the normal nutrient solution for bacteria in the lab – and filled a little more than one cup into a beaker. Then he handed this mix to his colleague, the gastroenterologist [...]

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    Dogs Sniff Out Clues to Cancer

    Young Scientist Floryne O. Buishand, The Netherlands

    Dogs play a crucial role in human cancer research. More young scientists and physicians should know this, says Floryne O. Buishand, a Young Scientist at the 64th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. With her DVM, Buishand is a small animal surgery resident at the faculty of veterinary medicine at Utrecht University in The Netherlands and also [...]

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    Soil Pollution in China Still a State Secret Despite Recent Survey

    Arable land around the urban fringe in China. (Cao Chunhai/Thinkstock)

    On March 17, the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Land and Resources released the first-ever results of a nationwide soil pollution survey that took place from 2005 to 2013. International media have commended the release, which revealed startling statistics such as one-fifth of arable land is polluted and contaminated with inorganic [...]

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    Whatever Happened to Leslie Lemke?

    The DVD of Leslie Lemke's "And Sings My Soul" concert at TKUNI in April 2011.

    In June 1980 Leslie Lemke and his remarkable foster mother May Lemke gave a concert in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin that has reverberated over the years throughout the world. Walter Cronkite featured the duo in his Christmas story that year. Appearances on 60 Minutes, That’s Incredible, Oprah (three times) and rounds of all the other [...]

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    The World Cup’s Climate Wild Card

    Brazil vs. England in a "friendly" in Rio de Janeiro. (Credit: Digo_Souza via Flickr)

    When I read that the soccer balls used for World Cup games have been specially designed for the climate in Brazil, that got me wondering – which climate? Brazil has many different climates. And are the players ready for a wide range of climates too? Technically it’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere, but that doesn’t [...]

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    What Does Mindfulness Meditation Do to Your Brain?

    Credit: Sebastien Wiertz via Flickr

    As you read this, wiggle your toes. Feel the way they push against your shoes, and the weight of your feet on the floor. Really think about what your feet feel like right now – their heaviness. If you’ve never heard of mindfulness meditation, congratulations, you’ve just done a few moments of it. More people [...]

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    “Off the Record”: Bad for Scientists, Bad for Science

    (Self) Censored. (Credit: Carolyn Tiry via Flickr)

    Let me tell you a story about how people invested in scientific discovery sometimes actively impede scientific progress. I’m a science and medical journalist and the editor of the Multiple Sclerosis Discovery Forum, a web site for MS researchers and clinicians. Similar to the venerable Alzforum, on which it is modeled, MSDF aims to, “accelerate [...]

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