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Obama names Holdren, Lubchenco, Varmus and Lander to science posts

President-elect Barack Obama named four top science advisors in his radio address yesterday. As reported widely last week, John Holdren will be his chief science adviser, as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology, and Jane Lubchenco, a professor of marine biology at Oregon State University, will direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

December 21, 2008 — Ivan Oransky

Technical Mumbo Jumbo May Scare Patients

Hey, doc. Watch what you say. Sticks and stones may break patients' bones but it turns out words – your words – may hurt them, too. A new study shows that physicians may unnecessarily frighten patients by using technical jargon instead of layman's terms for certain types of medical conditions, making them sound a lot worse than they really are.

December 19, 2008 — Gary Stix

Conscience clause and relaxed environmental regs among Bush's lame-duck rulings

Reproductive health and enviro activists are fuming over two more last-minute rule changes by the outgoing Bush administration: a new reg that allows heathcare workers to nix treatments to which they have moral objections, and another one that bars regulators from taking into consideration a power company's climate change–causing greenhouse gas emissions when applying for a license to build new coal-fired plants.

December 19, 2008 — Jordan Lite

Kicking rocks

Editor's note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the thirteenth of her updates on the effort as part of ScientificAmerican.com 's in-depth report on the "Future of the Poles." McMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA -- Last Saturday, we had a flurry of activity.

December 19, 2008 — Robin Bell

Running into an invisible wall

Editor's note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the twelfth of her updates on the effort as part of ScientificAmerican.com 's In-Depth Report on the "Future of the Poles."   McMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA--The British group had been acclimatizing at South Pole for three full days when it seemed we were ready to collect our first real line of data at the southern end of the survey area.

December 19, 2008 — Robin Bell

John Holdren to advise Obama on science, reports say

President-elect Barack Obama is poised to name John Holdren, a well-respected Harvard physicist and outspoken critic of the Bush administration's science policy, as his pick for White House science advisor, according to online reports.

December 18, 2008 — Jordan Lite

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Why Do Facts Fail?

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