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Observations

Observations

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

When Does an Exoplanet's Surface Become Earth-Like?

When Does an Exoplanet's Surface Become Earth-Like?

ANCHORAGE—In the menagerie of known extrasolar planets, there are hot Jupiters, super-Earths, exo-Neptunes. The terminology astronomers apply to their distant finds rests heavily on the few analogue planets in our own solar system.

June 20, 2012 — John Matson
Will the Taliban Succeed with Polio Warfare?

Will the Taliban Succeed with Polio Warfare?

Pakistan drone statistics. Source: Bureau of Investigative Journalism At first glance, the news that the Taliban have reportedly decided to ban polio vaccinations for 160,000 children in tribal regions of Pakistan as a way of protesting ongoing drone attacks by the U.S.

June 19, 2012 — Christine Gorman
Graphic Warning Labels on Cigarettes Help Smokers Remember Dangers

Graphic Warning Labels on Cigarettes Help Smokers Remember Dangers

Courtesy of A. Strasser This September, cigarette packs in the U.S. will be getting a lot more colorful. And a lot more disturbing. By then, tobacco companies will be required to display one of nine graphic health warnings on each pack, to comply with the Tobacco Control Act of 2009.The U.S.

June 15, 2012 — Katherine Harmon
Sleep Violence: A Real Danger, Little Understood

Sleep Violence: A Real Danger, Little Understood

Lady Macbeth sleepwalking, a painting by Henry Fuseli. Credit: commons.wikimedia.org Last month, psychiatrists at Stanford University announced that sleepwalking is on the rise.

June 14, 2012 — Daisy Yuhas
Saturated Fats Change Gut Bacteria-and May Raise Risk for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Saturated Fats Change Gut Bacteria-and May Raise Risk for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Image courtesy of iStockphoto/ValentynVolkov The relationship between food and a gastro-intestinal disease might sound simple. But new research is revealing that what we put into our bodies can cause a cascade of complex interactions among various systems—from metabolism to the immune system—that keep us well or make us sick.And it appears that a popular component of the classic Western diet—saturated fats—has likely contributed to the increase in colitis cases.Colitis, swelling of the large intestine that can cause pain and diarrhea, seems to run in families, but not everyone with the genetic risk gets it.

June 13, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

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

Beyond XX and XY

Biology. Identity. Equality.