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Observations

Observations

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

The End is Nigh! Time to Go Shopping

"Why did the government make an announcement not to worry about 2012?... Is this a conspiracy? And if NASA is not worried about Dec 21, why did the head of NASA make a video warning NASA employees to prepare for disaster?" -- question on NASA's Ask an Astrobiologist Being a lazy person at heart, I am always impressed by people who devote a great deal of time and effort to a cause...

December 19, 2012 — Fred Guterl

Please Play with Your Math: New Museum Opens in New York City

Math can be a beautiful, immersive, full-body experience, according to the creators of the newly opened Museum of Math, or MoMath, in New York City. A sculpture that lights up and plays music, a touch-screen floor that turns into a maze and a square-wheeled tricycle that one can ride around a bumpy track are just a few of the more than 30 exhibits in the 19,000-square-foot space...

December 19, 2012 — Marissa Fessenden

The Most Fascinating Human Evolution Discoveries of 2012

Recent years have brought considerable riches for those of us interested in human evolution and 2012 proved no exception. New fossils, archaeological finds and genetic analyses yielded thrilling insights into the shape of the family tree, the diets of our ancient predecessors, the origins of art and advanced weaponry, the interactions between early Homo sapiens and other human species, and other facets of our ancestors' lives...

December 19, 2012 — Kate Wong

Intensive Weight Loss Programs Might Help Reverse Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes has long been thought of as a chronic, irreversible disease. Some 25 million Americans are afflicted with the illness, which is associated with obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, as well as high blood pressure...

December 18, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Which World Will We Face in 2030?

Last week, I and some 200 other attendees of the Global Trends 2030: U.S. Leadership in a Post-Western World conference got a thought-provoking look at the current “megatrends” leading to four possible futures for the world some 10 to 15 years from now...

December 18, 2012 — Mariette DiChristina

New Toxic Nocturnal Primate Species Discovered

The slow loris shouldn't be a difficult object of study. For one thing, it's slow—very slow (think sloth slow). And these small primates, which are unique in possessing a toxic bite to ward off predators, are charismatic due in large part to their compelling, wide-eyed faces...

December 14, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Have Scientists Found Two Different Higgs Bosons?

A month ago scientists at the Large Hadron Collider released the latest Higgs boson results. And although the data held few obvious surprises, most intriguing were the results that scientists didn’t share.The original Higgs data from back in July had shown that the Higgs seemed to be decaying into two photons more often than it should—an enticing though faint hint of something new, some sort of physics beyond our understanding...

December 14, 2012 — Michael Moyer

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Introducing Scientific American Health & Medicine

Introducing Scientific American Health & Medicine