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Observations

Observations

Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American

  • Dogfight against Rogue Drones Begins

    Dogfight against Rogue Drones Begins

    By Larry Greenemeier | August 21, 2015 |

    Reports of unmanned aircraft interfering with firefighters, buzzing commercial airliners and disrupting airport traffic are on the rise. Now politicians and law enforcement are vowing to strike back at these swarms of hobbyist drones through GPS tracking technology that can locate and even create an invisible fence to control the movement of rogue flyers. […]

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  • To Play or Not to Play the Exoplanet Name Game?

    To Play or Not to Play the Exoplanet Name Game?

    By Lee Billings | August 14, 2015 |

    What’s in a name? Not much at all, if you hold with Shakespeare, who mused in Romeo and Juliet that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” What he meant was that names don’t really matter, because they don’t change the nature of the named. […]

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  • Google Will No Longer Build Driverless Cars

    Google Will No Longer Build Driverless Cars

    By Larry Greenemeier | August 11, 2015 |

    In 1998 it wasn’t such a stretch for Google to position itself as an anti-corporate entity ready to shake up the technology world . The company did just that, of course, to the point where its very name became synonymous with Web search. Seventeen years and tens of billions of dollars later Google has morphed into a massive global entity juggling its cash-cow search-and-advertising efforts with world-changing “moonshots” to deliver driverless cars and drone-based delivery services. […]

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  • Jon Stewart's Top 10 Science Moments on <i>The Daily Show</i> [Video]

    Jon Stewart's Top 10 Science Moments on The Daily Show [Video]

    By Eliene Augenbraun | August 7, 2015 |

    From 1999 to 2015, Jon Stewart frequently took on science policy issues as host of The Daily Show. Search the show's web site for “science” and 529 clips come up. In honor of Stewart's last show August 6, 2015 we picked our ten favorite Daily Show science moments. […]

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  • Search Engine Plants Trees as It Finds Your Info

    Search Engine Plants Trees as It Finds Your Info

    By Mark Fischetti | July 24, 2015 |

    Some people prefer Google when exploring the Web . Some like Yahoo or Bing. But now more than 2.5 million people a month are using Ecosia, because every time they click “Search” they help plant a tree. Ecosia donates an impressive 80 percent of its income, after expenses, to programs that sows trees in Africa. […]

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  • Is It Snowing on Pluto?

    Is It Snowing on Pluto?

    By Maria Temming | July 15, 2015 |

    Plutophiles are abuzz over the New Horizons spacecraft’s observations of the object formerly known as the ninth planet. As the ship approached Pluto on July 13, it snapped the best shot of the dwarf planet yet, revealing previously unseen surface features that, according to NASA scientists, suggest Pluto is home to a rare weather phenomenon: snow. […]

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  • At Pluto, the End of a Beginning

    At Pluto, the End of a Beginning

    By Lee Billings | July 14, 2015 |

    Early this morning, if all has gone well, the first golden age of interplanetary exploration will have come to a close. At 7:49 Eastern time, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft was slated to reach its primary target, Pluto and its moons, concluding what some call the preliminary reconnaissance of the known solar system. […]

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  • How Scientific Inventions Sparked Population Explosion

    How Scientific Inventions Sparked Population Explosion

    By Kat Long | July 13, 2015 |

    The world’s population is projected to hit at least 10 billion by the end of this century. A new video and interactive timeline produced by Population Connection, a nonprofit that advocates family planning programs, shows how scientific discoveries and inventions allowed civilizations to spread across the globe for the last 2,000 years. […]

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  • How Precision Medicine Will Transform Cancer Treatment [Video]

    How Precision Medicine Will Transform Cancer Treatment [Video]

    By Seth Fletcher | July 1, 2015 |

    LINDAU, Germany—Cancers, revered researcher Harold Varmus told me today, are like snowflakes, each one unique. But cancers also belong to families, and members of those families share vulnerabilities—genetic weak spots that scientists are learning to target with increasing precision. […]

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  • Taking the Weight of an Alien World

    Taking the Weight of an Alien World

    By Lee Billings | June 18, 2015 |

    Though hobbled by age, NASA’s Kepler planet-hunting telescope is proving to be an almost inexhaustible engine of discovery. The observatory found thousands of new worlds before an  equipment malfunction  in 2013 slowed its planetary torrent to a trickle, but clever researchers have managed to squeeze  remarkable new findings  out of its vast trove of archival data. […]

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