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Feds give thumbs-up to new, no-cal sweetener, stevia

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) late last night declared that a controversial new sweetener is safe, raising the ire of consumer advocates who charge that not enough tests have been done to rule out possible risks...

December 18, 2008 — Coco Ballantyne

Don't be fooled: six holiday health myths verified or debunked

Does the bulk of heat escape our bodies through our heads? Does eating more at night pack on the pounds? Does sugar really make kids hyper? ScientificAmerican.com talked to Indiana University School of Medicine pediatricians Rachel Vreeman and Aaron Carroll to find out if these and three other popular health myths are true...

December 18, 2008 — Coco Ballantyne

Your shopping personality explained

Do opulent Christmas displays in stores and frenzied ads make you feel overwhelmed, depressed, or psyched? The emotions you feel might be a clue to your “shopping personality” – a pattern of behavior that corresponds with how you act in the rest of your life...

December 18, 2008 — Jordan Lite

What was the star of Bethlehem?

The star of Bethlehem, which Christian lore maintains led the wise men to the birthplace of Jesus, is one of the most enduring and well-known Christmas legends.

December 18, 2008 — John Matson

Should Christmas trees be fireproofed?

If artificial Christmas trees strike you as a bit too Grinch-like in their aseptic modernity but you worry about bringing a tinderbox into your living room, the simplest solution may also be the best one...

December 18, 2008 — John Matson

New York State proposes iPod tax

Want to download tunes to your iPod? You may have to pay a premium—at least in New York Gov. David Paterson, desperate for ways to narrow the projected (and ever-expanding) $15.4-billion budget deficit, yesterday proposed taxing just about anything he could to raise much-needed cash, including digital music downloads...

December 17, 2008 — Larry Greenemeier

Almost calibrated

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 eleventh of her updates on the effort as part of ScientificAmerican.com 's in-depth report on the "Future of the Poles." McMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA (December 10) -- Flying over any town is an unusual request and McMurdo is not an exception.  When I asked if we could fly at 1,000 feet over town, I was greeted with skeptical looks.  McMurdo is nestled beneath a valley between Observation Hill and Hut Point.  The request sounded like a boondoggle.  I had to explain that to ensure the laser is correctly aligned with the aircraft frame, we have fly over pointed roofs.  Our Reigl laser is developed in Austria where there are ample pointed roofs for calibrating the instrument.  There are not many pointed roofs in Antarctica so flying over McMurdo seemed like the obvious answer...

December 17, 2008 — Robin Bell

Moving? Be sure to pick up a map of natural hazards in your new 'hood

Thinking about relocating? Forget the proximity of good schools, trendy shopping and green space. You might want to take a look at a new “hazard map” of the U.S., which spells out by geographic region the likelihood of dying from floods, earthquakes or other natural dangers...

December 16, 2008 — Jordan Lite

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The Essential Guide to the Modern World

The Essential Guide to the Modern World