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Observations

Observations

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

Why It's Better to Text Than Call in a Mass Emergency

Today at BoingBoing, Maggie Koerth-Baker has a fascinating Q&A with communications engineer and entrepreneur Brough Turner about how mobile-phone networks respond to sudden spikes in call volume, as occurred April 15 in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings...

April 17, 2013 — John Matson

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Found in Sharks and Seals

Bacteria, viruses and parasites from land animals such as cats, cows and humans are sickening and killing sea mammals. Scientists have been finding a daunting number of land-based pathogens in seals, dolphins, sharks and other ocean dwellers that wash ashore dead or dying, according to an article by Christopher Solomon in the May 2013 issue of Scientific American, entitled “How Kitty is Killing the Dolphins.”The "pollutagens" could pose a threat to people, too...

April 16, 2013 — Mark Fischetti

Why Jim Hansen Stopped Being a Government Scientist [Video]

Why did James Hansen retire on April 2 after 32 years as director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies? As he told the enterprising students of Columbia University's Sustainability Media Lab who captured him in the following video, "I want to devote full time to trying to help the public understand the urgency of addressing climate change." It's not exactly the "spend more time with my family" excuse often give by retiring government officials, but his family is nonetheless the reason for this change...

April 12, 2013 — David Biello

Report: Digital Divide Remains Challenging for Countries to Bridge

Countries need to invest in an infrastructure and innovation to get the benefit of information and communications technologies. But a digital divide remains between those who do and do not have the right ecosystems in place--including sector-scale plans for digitization of various industries, capabilities to support those plans (including an understanding of social impact), and ways to monitor what actually gets done...

April 10, 2013 — Mariette DiChristina

More Belt-Tightening in Store for NASA as STEM Education Programs Face Consolidation

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has just released President Obama’s budget request for 2014. It will take some time for the budget’s full impacts on science to be dissected and debated, but here is a quick look at how one closely watched agency—NASA—fared.The president’s budget, which is subject to Congressional negotiation and approval, would provide $17.7 billion for NASA, down a bit from the previous year...

April 10, 2013 — John Matson

NASA Getting into the Asteroid-Moving Business

Dissatisfied with the current state of the solar system, NASA is looking to do a little remodeling.The space agency is angling to capture a small asteroid and drag it closer to Earth for human exploration, the Associated Press reported April 6...

April 9, 2013 — John Matson

Add Your Face to Climate Change

Want your image to appear worldwide on Earth Day this April 22? The Earth Day Network has launched a photomosaic Web site depicting “the face of climate change.” The site is accumulating photos that reflect society’s concerns about our planet...

April 8, 2013 — Mark Fischetti

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