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Observations

Observations

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

EPA Nominee Gina McCarthy Stymied By Republican Boycott

When a U.S. president nominates a candidate to take over the top spot at a major government agency such as the Defense Department, at least a few senators—usually from the opposing party—raise some objections, if for no other reason than to show that they will not rubber-stamp anyone the president proposes.But yesterday Republicans boycotted a vote on Gina McCarthy, President Barack Obama’s nominee to become the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency...

May 10, 2013 — Mark Fischetti

Polio Vaccinations Need A Boost

Scientific American 's editorial board strongly believes that the US was wrong to mount a fake hepatitis B vaccination campaign in the effort to kill Osama bin Laden.

May 3, 2013 — Christine Gorman

Your Smartphone Just Diagnosed You with Postpartum Depression

Depending on your perspective, Twitter can either be a valuable source of breaking news, or a fire hose of miscellaneous, often dubious information. Microsoft researchers are investigating whether the microblogging service could serve another, more scientific function—to spot signs of postpartum depression in new mothers based on changes in how and what they tweet.The research is in its early stages and in some ways relies heavily on data that’s easy to misinterpret...

May 3, 2013 — Larry Greenemeier

Robot Bees Learn to Fly [video]

In March, the Harvard University researchers behind the RoboBee project wrote an article in Scientific American that detailed the challenges of building a swarm of bee-sized robots.

May 2, 2013 — Michael Moyer

IBM Movie Does Claymation, at the Atomic Scale [Video]

What is the “final frontier”? Star Trek fans will tell you it’s space. Filmmaker/aquanaut James Cameron will tell you it’s the ocean’s depths. IBM, however, is thinking much smaller.The company’s research division on Wednesday released a stop-motion movie whose main character is a stick figure only a few atoms in size...

May 1, 2013 — Larry Greenemeier

Space Ape Parody Shows Why Aquatic Ape Theory Is All Wet

This past weekend the misguided aquatic ape theory surfaced for air, only to get sunk in the most entertaining way. The theory holds that many traits of humans—including our naked skin, upright posture and large brains--evolved as adaptations to living in an aquatic environment...

April 30, 2013 — Kate Wong

The World Wide Web Became Free 20 Years Ago Today

You and I can access billions of Web pages, post blogs, write code for our own killer apps—in short, do anything we want on the Web—all for free! And we've enjoyed free reign because 20 years ago, today, Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and his employer, the CERN physics lab in Geneva, published a statement that made the nascent “World Wide Web” technology available to every person, company and institution with no royalty or restriction.Berners-Lee proposed the Web in 1989 and had a working version in Dec 1990...

April 30, 2013 — Mark Fischetti

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Scientific American Health & Medicine

Scientific American Health & Medicine