Skip to main content
Observations

Observations

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

Fracking Could Work If Industry Would Come Clean

Fracking Could Work If Industry Would Come Clean

VANCOUVER—Resistance to hydraulic fracturing in the U.S. has risen steadily in recent months. Citizens and politicians are worried that fracking deep shales to extract natural gas can contaminate groundwater, trigger earthquakes and release methane, the potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.

February 18, 2012 — Mark Fischetti
What Processed Food Looks Like during Digestion-of Course It's Not Pretty [Video]

What Processed Food Looks Like during Digestion-of Course It's Not Pretty [Video]

If you ever wondered how your body handled all those packaged ramen noodles you ate during college, this video’s for you. Stefani Bardin, a TEDxManhattan fellow, wants to learn how digestion differs between food chock full of preservatives and food that can actually go bad in a day.To create this video, she and her collaborator, Braden Kuo of Harvard University, had two volunteers swallow a camera pill along with their meals (which included Gatorade and Gummi bears).

February 17, 2012 — Philip Yam
Fermilab Set to Reveal "Interesting" Higgs Boson Results

Fermilab Set to Reveal "Interesting" Higgs Boson Results

V ANCOUVER—Last fall, the Tevatron accelerator at Fermilab in Illinois shut down for good. The long-running accelerator had been eclipsed by the vastly more powerful Large Hadron Collider outside of Geneva, Switzerland, which since 2010 has been generating data at an impressive rate.

February 17, 2012 — Michael Moyer
Eternal Sunshine Drug Points the Way Toward Counteracting the Agony of Chronic Pain

Eternal Sunshine Drug Points the Way Toward Counteracting the Agony of Chronic Pain

McGill researchers test a rat's pain threshold One of brain researchers' closest brushes with science fiction in the last 10 years came with the discovery of a chemical that could completely wipe out memory, a molecule that evoked a real-life version of the scenario depicted in the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, in which a couple undertakes a procedure to erase their memory of each other when the relationship falls apart.Fortunately, the artificial amnesia occurred only in laboratory rats.

February 17, 2012 — Gary Stix
Contagious Cancer: Genome Study Reveals How Tasmanian Devil Cancer Has Spread

Contagious Cancer: Genome Study Reveals How Tasmanian Devil Cancer Has Spread

Image courtesy of Save the Tasmanian Devil Program A killer cancer that is threatening to wipe Tasmanian devils off the map for good has been spreading—from an original infected female 15 years ago—via live cancer cells, according to evidence from genome sequences of the cancer and the animal, published online Thursday in Cell .

February 17, 2012 — Katherine Harmon
Can We Ask Presidential Candidates about Science?

Can We Ask Presidential Candidates about Science?

Back in December 2011, The Guardian USA and New York University's Studio20 (see their Tumblr - note: I am associated with the program) announced a new joint project - US presidential election 2012: the citizens agenda.

February 17, 2012 — Bora Zivkovic
Color-Coding Ants [Video]

Color-Coding Ants [Video]

Credit: Andrew Quitmeyer An ant colony, made up of many thousands of individuals, actually functions more like one giant organism. Ants use their unified strength to build bridges, raft across rivers and even wage war on neighboring colonies (as scientist Mark Moffett explains in a recent Scientific American feature).

February 17, 2012 — Eric R. Olson
Robot Rocket Knows When to Fly, When to Hover [Video]

Robot Rocket Knows When to Fly, When to Hover [Video]

When I was a kid, I spent an awful lot of time and money on model rockets. I loved the whole process—picking out which Estes rocket kit to buy, carefully assembling the thing, and, most important of all, igniting a solid-fuel engine to shoot a high-velocity projectile into the sky.

February 16, 2012 — John Matson
Quantum Entanglement Experiments Expand to Include 8 Photons

Quantum Entanglement Experiments Expand to Include 8 Photons

Laser photo: FastLizard4/Flickr The quantum phenomenon known as entanglement keeps spreading its arms to hold ever more particles in its spooky embrace.Quantum entanglement is an effect through which multiple particles share correlated properties—across arbitrarily large distances—that snap into place instantaneously.

February 15, 2012 — John Matson

Blog Index

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