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Observations


Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American
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    From the editors and reporters of Scientific American , this blog delivers commentary, opinion and analysis on the latest developments in science and technology and their influence on society and policy. From reasoned arguments and cultural critiques to personal and skeptical takes on interesting science news, you'll find a wide range of scientifically relevant insights here. Follow on Twitter @sciam.
  • Obama Asks Astronaut for Instagrams from Space During State of the Union

    Obama state of the union

    President Obama made a rare shout-out to space in Tuesday’s State of the Union Address, referencing NASA’s recent Orion capsule launch and addressing astronaut Scott Kelly in the audience at the Capitol. “Last month, we launched a new spacecraft as part of a re-energized space program that will send American astronauts to Mars,” Obama said, [...]

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    Astrobiologist Aims to Make Science Education More Interactive

    screen grab from Habitable Worlds course

    I remember battling sleepiness as I slouched in a large lecture hall, squinting to make out the writing on the blackboard during my freshman introductory physics course in college. My difficulty staying alert in class was not the fault of the subject—I went on to major in physics—or even the teacher. Instead, I think it [...]

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    Science Far from Center Stage in Obama’s State of the Union

    Pres. Obama delivers his State of the Union

    President Barack Obama’s sixth State of the Union address, his first before a Republican-led legislature, was studded this evening with references to science and technology amidst talk of middle class tax cuts, thawing U.S. relations with Cuba, economic empowerment and closing the pay gap between men and women. The speech included mentions of climate change, [...]

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    Humans Cross Another Danger Line for the Planet

    Disappearing Forests: Green are sustainable for now, yellow and red are past the safe limit.

    Five years go an impressive, international group of scientists unveiled nine biological and environmental “boundaries” that humankind should not cross in order to keep the earth a livable place. To its peril, the world had already crossed three of those safe limits: too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, too rapid a rate of species [...]

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    The New Chevy Volt Is Impressively Unremarkable

    2016 Chevrolet Volt. Credit: General Motors

    Over the holidays, while visiting family in Southwest Missouri, where I grew up, I saw one of the oddest sights on local roadways since armadillos started showing up as road kill: multiple Chevrolet Volts. In cities and suburbs, cars like the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, and Tesla Model S are pretty common. But Southwest Missouri [...]

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    Free Community College: Obama Heeds Scientific American‘s Advice

    It took awhile. But President Obama finally decided to take us up on the editorial we published last summer on making community college free. What kept him? Kim Jong Un? John Boehner? Actually, beats us if he actually read it. But the idea of making community college free is one whose time has come. “Great [...]

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    Beef from Former Mad Cow Epicenter Could Hit U.S. Shelves This Year

    american cuts of beef diagram

      After nearly 16 years, the U.S. has agreed to import beef from Ireland—the first European country to get the go-ahead since the epidemic of mad cow disease swept the continent In the 1980s and 1990s. The move—which may extend to the rest of the British Isles later this year—serves as a milestone in the [...]

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    Curved TV and Smartphones: Gimmick or Gadget Godsend?

    LG's G Flex 2. Image courtesy of LG.

    Moviegoers have long been familiar with the benefits of viewing content on a curved screen. The screen’s curvature equalizes the distance that light from the projector must travel, enhancing resolution and brightness while eliminating distortion. A handful of gadget makers including LG and Samsung have latched onto this phenomenon in recent years to differentiate their [...]

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    Readers Choose the Top 10 Scientific American Stories of 2014

    Entering a closed timelike curve tomorrow means you could end up at today. Credit: Dmitry Schidlovsky

    World events left many marks and losses in 2014, but Scientific American readers kept calm and carried on for the most part, as your top picks among the stories we published this year reveal. We added in behind-the-scenes information for some of your favorites, listed below: 1. Time Travel Simulation Resolves “Grandfather Paradox”—Our online managing [...]

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    Scientific American Editors’ Picks for the Top Tech Stories of 2014

    Operators aboard Australian navy vessel Ocean Shield move the U.S. Navy’s Bluefin 21 Artemis autonomous underwater vehicle into position for deployment. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Blair/Released.

    Wallets, wreckage and digital coin. Before the new year appears, let’s look at some of the most important technology stories Scientific American covered over the past 12 months. North Korean “cyberwar” rhetoric escalates President Barack Obama says the digital attacks in November on Sony Entertainment—allegedly by North Korea or some agent acting on its behalf—did [...]

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