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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

Airlines connecting passengers to the Web at 30,000 feet

Although the Federal Aviation Administration (mercifully) still won't let passengers yap on their mobile phones while in flight, there's nothing to keep airlines from letting their customers connect wirelessly to the Web.

December 18, 2008 — Larry Greenemeier

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Limited Time Offer: Scientific American Health & Medicine Premiere Issue

Limited Time Offer: Scientific American Health & Medicine Premiere Issue