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Observations

Observations

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

Genetic Sequencing Traces Gypsies Back to Ancient Indian Origin

Romani wagon in Germany, 1930s; image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Allgemeiner Deutscher Nachrichtendienst - Zentralbild (Bild 183) The Romani people—once known as "gypsies" or Roma—have been objects of both curiosity and persecution for centuries.

December 6, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Why Don't Helmets Prevent Concussions?

Helmets protect your head—but they can't fully protect your brain. This helps to explain why football players continue to incur brain trauma that may lead to debilitating brain disease.Recently, a team of researchers presented more evidence of the devastating progression of a brain disease caused by repeated brain trauma.

December 5, 2012 — Daisy Yuhas

Mysterious Atmospheric River Soaks California, Where Megaflood May Be Overdue

An atmospheric river (thin yellow band) feeds torrential rain into northern California on Nov. 30. Image courtesy of NOAA Northern California is experiencing the first days of what weather forecasters are warning will be a long series of torrential rainstorms that could cause serious flooding across the northern one-third of the state.

November 30, 2012 — Mark Fischetti

New Slice of Wheat Genome Could Help Feed Growing Global Population

Image courtesy of iStockphoto/fotohunter Common wheat ( Triticum aestivum ) might seem as boring as the sliced bread it is baked into. But genetically, it is vexingly complex.Its genome is about six times as big as our own, and its genes are distributed among six sets of chromosomes (we humans have just two).

November 28, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Global High Fructose Corn Syrup Use May Be Fueling Diabetes Increase

Image courtesy of iStockphoto/TheCrimsonMonkey It doesn’t matter where you look: the U.S., Mexico, Malaysia or Portugal, the more high fructose corn syrup consumption, on average, the more diabetes.A new study of 43 countries in Global Public Health , published online November 27, found that adult type-2 diabetes is 20 percent higher in countries that consume large quantities of high fructose corn syrup.

November 27, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

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