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Guest Blog

Commentary invited by editors of Scientific American


A Science Miniseries: The Big Story of Alcohol, Civilization and a Little Fungus

There is a little magic embodied in every bit of bread or cheese and every sip of beer and wine. That magic is microbial and, at least in the case of the bread, beer and wine, the microbe doing the magic is yeast, of a single species, Saccharomyces cerevisiae , what one might reasonably call civilization’s yeast, or at least the yeast at the heart of civilization-its slightly sour lollipop center.We don’t think about yeast...

February 22, 2012 — Rob Dunn

How Did Human Brains Get to Be so Big?

New research points to an ancient energy tradeoff that meant more fuel for brains, and less fuel for muscles. Recently while visiting the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., I found myself pondering the noggins of some very, very, old apes.Along one wall of the Hall of Human Origins — an exhibit on human evolution that opened in 2010 — were 76 fossil skulls from 15 species of early humans...

February 21, 2012 — Robin Anne Smith

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