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Observations

Observations

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

How to Rid the World of the "Element from Hell"

How to Rid the World of the "Element from Hell"

The vast majority of the radioactive plutonium on the planet is man-made—roughly 500 metric tons, or enough to make 100,000 nuclear weapons by the calculations of the International Panel on Fissile Materials.

May 9, 2012 — David Biello
Google Is My Pilot: Nevada Gambles on Self-Driving Cars

Google Is My Pilot: Nevada Gambles on Self-Driving Cars

Nevada's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has given Google the nation's first license to test self-driving cars on public streets. The adolescent-aged Internet search giant has been working toward this goal for the past couple of years by holding test-driving demonstrations along freeways, state highways and neighborhoods both in Carson City and along the Las Vegas Strip.Google's contention has been that its autonomous auto would be safer than those driven by humans, offer more fuel-efficiency and promote economic development.

May 8, 2012 — Larry Greenemeier
How to Feed the World While Earth Cooks

How to Feed the World While Earth Cooks

A conference on feeding the world must also feed itself. Having attended more than my share of such conferences, I can say that the norm is keynotes that rally the troops in favor of organics while said troops munch on tortilla or potato chips.

May 8, 2012 — David Biello
All Things Brain: Click on BrainFacts.org

All Things Brain: Click on BrainFacts.org

The Decade of the Brain stretched from 1990 to 1999.But, in reality, it never ended.The continuing celebration of all things brain extends, once more, with the unveiling of a mammoth Web site devoted to neuroscience.Brainfacts.org—funded with $1.53 million project over six years by the Gatsby and Kavli Foundations—amasses basic information from leading organizations, ranging from the National Institutes of Health to the International Brain Research Organization in France, chronicling both how the brain works as well as major brain diseases.

May 7, 2012 — Gary Stix
Champions of Science in Lancaster, Pa.

Champions of Science in Lancaster, Pa.

Divya Sirdeshpande (left), a sophomore at Hempfield High School, shows me her project using mushroom mycelia to make biodegradable packaging. As my Amtrak train rolled past the “Lancaster” sign, the window view alighted on the upright figure of an Amish farmer and his mule-team-pulled hand plow, working the verdant Pennsylvania land just as his forefathers have done here for more than two centuries.

May 6, 2012 — Mariette DiChristina
Neuroscience Coverage: Media Distorts, Bloggers Rule

Neuroscience Coverage: Media Distorts, Bloggers Rule

Brain as Icon “Superwoman has been rumbled,” declared a Daily Telegraph article in 2001 that chronicled how the human brain’s inability to “multitask” undercuts the prospects for a woman to juggle career and family with any measure of success.

May 4, 2012 — Gary Stix

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