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Observations

Observations

Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American

  • Now You Can

    Now You Can "Hear" Climate Change [Video]

    By Mark Fischetti | May 21, 2015 |

    Want a visceral sense of how much temperatures around the Northern Hemisphere are  deviating from average ? Well, have a listen. University of Minnesota geography student and super cello player Daniel Crawford has composed a two-and-a-half minute piece for string quartet that let’s you hear the temperature change from 1880 to 2014. […]

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  • Archaeologists Take Wrong Turn, Find World's Oldest Stone Tools [Update]

    Archaeologists Take Wrong Turn, Find World's Oldest Stone Tools [Update]

    By Kate Wong | May 20, 2015 |

    Archaeologists Sonia Harmand and Jason Lewis of Stony Brook University examine the oldest stone tools in the world, discovered at a site called Lomekwi 3 in Kenya. Image: MPK-WTAP Editor’s note: This April 15 story has been updated with a new photo after the publication of a paper in the May 21 Nature by archaeologist Sonia Harmand of Stony Brook University and her colleagues, who describe their discovery of the oldest stone tools in the world. […]

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  • Black Hole "Blazars" Reveal Hidden Side of the Universe [Video]

    By Clara Moskowitz | May 19, 2015 |

    Blazars, some of the most powerful phenomena in the universe, are gigantic black holes at the centers of galaxies that are gorging on matter and shooting out jets of particles and light. This light is so bright astronomers can spot blazars from billions of light-years across the universe. […]

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  • House GOP Revives Bill to Block Late-Term Abortions, Armed with New Preemie Viability Data

    House GOP Revives Bill to Block Late-Term Abortions, Armed with New Preemie Viability Data

    By Dina Fine Maron | May 11, 2015 |

    On the heels of new research that revealed more infants born at 22 weeks are able to survive than was previously thought, Republican leaders in the U.S House of Representatives have dusted off a late-term abortion bill for a vote, although chances of it becoming law seem distant. […]

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  • MESSENGER’s Mercurial Swan Song and Other Interplanetary Smashups

    By Lee Billings | April 29, 2015 |

    NASA's MESSENGER is still snapping pictures of Mercury's surface as it spirals ever-closer for its mission-ending collision, scheduled for April 30. The smallest craters visible in this image are about 15 meters wide--the same size as the crater MESSENGER will carve out with its impact. […]

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  • Hubble's Repairman Reflects on the Telescope's Legacy

    By Lee Billings | April 24, 2015 |

    Former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino reflects on his role in the story of the Hubble Space Telescope. Twenty-five years ago, on April 24, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope soared into orbit. Since then, its great discoveries have been legion, and the story of how it became the most successful and productive astronomical observatory in human history is destined to become legendary. […]

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  • Can the U.S. Go All-Electric?

    Can the U.S. Go All-Electric?

    By David Biello | April 22, 2015 |

    New homes wired with the latest smart gadgets cluster together around shared park spaces. Blue-black panels that transform sunshine into electricity grace a majority of roofs. Electric cars or hybrids glide silently to rest in garages. This is not some distant future; this is life today in Mueller–an innovative suburb of Austin, Tex., and just one of the pioneering places I visit in the next episode of “ Beyond the Light Switch ,” premiering tonight in Detroit. […]

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  • Supermassive Black Holes Make Merging Galaxies Green

    Supermassive Black Holes Make Merging Galaxies Green

    By Lee Billings | April 3, 2015 |

    Green, glowing whorls of ionized oxygen around the galaxy NGC 5972 may be due to a supermassive black hole's ancient feeding frenzy. Credit: NASA, ESA, and W. Keel (University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa) Green as a color can mean animal, vegetable or mineral. […]

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  • Against April Fools' in Science Journalism

    Against April Fools' in Science Journalism

    By Lee Billings | April 1, 2015 |

    Here Be Dragons: Science journalists are playing with fire when they humorously dupe readers. Image credit: Anderson, Wayne/Private Collection/Bridgeman Images My lowest point as a science journalist came before I even knew what a science journalist was. […]

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  • When Your Co-Author Is a Monstrous Ass

    When Your Co-Author Is a Monstrous Ass

    By Philip Yam | April 1, 2015 |

    Who hasn’t worked with a disagreeable person—and in the world of science publishing, authored a paper with one? That wasn’t exactly what went through the mind of William Hoover, a physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, when he included an Italian co-author to his 1987 paper. […]

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