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Observations

Observations

Opinion, arguments & analyses from guest experts and from the editors of Scientific American

When It Comes to Solar Storms, We Don t Even Know How Bad It Might Get

When It Comes to Solar Storms, We Don t Even Know How Bad It Might Get

A coronal mass ejection. Credit: NASA/SDO Space weather is not all bad. After all, the charged particles streaming out from the sun that cause geomagnetic disturbances on and around our planet also produce the lovely aurorae near Earth's poles—and sometimes at much lower latitudes.But when the sun really acts up, spewing out heaps of charged particles in a burst called a coronal mass ejection, space weather can get a bit more menacing—and future storms could be even worse than the ones we’ve experienced.

April 18, 2012 — John Matson
Helicopters Save Lives for Serious Trauma Victims

Helicopters Save Lives for Serious Trauma Victims

Wikimedia Commons/FEMA Photo Library/Ed Edahl A medical emergency helicopter can swoop down to pick up a trauma victim and often deliver him or her to a hospital much faster than a road-bound ambulance can.

April 17, 2012 — Katherine Harmon
Spine Tuning: Finding Physical Evidence of How Practice Rewires the Brain

Spine Tuning: Finding Physical Evidence of How Practice Rewires the Brain

(Credit: Marcos Andre, Wikimedia Commons) In kindergarten, several of my friends and I were very serious about learning to tie our shoes. I remember sitting on the edge of the playground, looping laces into bunny ears and twisting them into a knot over and over again until I had it just right.

April 16, 2012 — Ferris Jabr
Fast Food Chains Dish Out More Salt per Serving in the U.S.

Fast Food Chains Dish Out More Salt per Serving in the U.S.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto/cookelma The fast food industry has gotten knocked for selling high-fat, high-sodium and high-sugar fare, a major contributor to the bourgeoning obesity and diabetes epidemics.Many chains have responded by offering salads, wraps and fresh fruit alongside their burgers, pizzas and fries.

April 16, 2012 — Katherine Harmon
Growing an Economy by Growing Weed

Growing an Economy by Growing Weed

Investors rocked world markets this week by selling Spanish bonds because of doubts about the country’s ability to put in place an austerity program.

April 14, 2012 — Gary Stix
Italy's Mount Etna Erupts Again [VIDEO]

Italy's Mount Etna Erupts Again [VIDEO]

A decade after a series of eruptions forced evacuations from the flanks of Mount Etna in Sicily, the volcano is acting up again. This amazing video shows the new flows: Mount Etna is an enigmatic volcano.

April 13, 2012 — Michael Moyer
Will Computers Ever Know Everything?

Will Computers Ever Know Everything?

What was Alan Turing's greatest contribution? Here was a man who invented the idea of the modern computer, a man upon whose insights the information technology revolution firmly rests.

April 12, 2012 — Michael Moyer

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