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Observations

Observations

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

Food Delivers a Cocktail of Hormone-Like Signals to Body

The chicken pesto pasta on your plate is more than just tasty fuel to keep you going. The dish has carbohydrates, fats and proteins to be sure, but it also contains other nutrients and chemicals that send subtle cues and instructions to your cells.

February 22, 2013 — Marissa Fessenden

Could Another Chelyabinsk-Scale Meteor Sneak Up on Us?

When a 17-meter asteroid barreled into Earth’s atmosphere over central Russia on February 15, releasing a powerful shock wave that injured more than 1,000 people, many observers wondered how such a momentous event could arrive unheralded.

February 20, 2013 — John Matson

Hundreds Reported Injured in Blast from Meteor Strike over Russia [Video]

A meteor fireball lit up the morning sky over Chelyabinsk in central Russia, producing a shock wave that shattered windows and injured an estimated 500 1,000 people.** Although much of the parent object likely burned up in the atmosphere, Russian authorities say that several meteorite fragments have already been recovered, according to the Interfax news agency.A preliminary analysis posted to the Web site of the Russian Academy of Sciences estimates that the object that struck Earth's atmosphere was a few meters in diameter, "the weight of the order of ten tons [and] the energy of a few kilotons," according to a Google translation.* That would make the Chelyabinsk event a fairly common occurrence, although such strikes usually occur over less-populated regions, not cities of more than a million people.

February 15, 2013 — John Matson

FDA Approves First Retinal Implant

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Thursday approved the first retinal implant for use in the United States. The FDA’s green light for Second Sight’s Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System gives hope to those blinded by a rare genetic eye condition called advanced retinitis pigmentosa, which damages the light-sensitive cells that line the retina.For Second Sight, FDA approval follows more than 20 years of development, two clinical trials and more than $200 million in funding—half from the National Eye Institute, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation, and the rest from private investors.

February 14, 2013 — Larry Greenemeier

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