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Observations

Observations

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

Souvenir Seafood Menus Offer Glimpse into Hawaii’s Oceans of Old

Kyle Van Houtan, a marine ecologist at Duke University and a researcher for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has spent the last few months scouring libraries, Web sites and private collections for Hawaiian restaurant menus dating as far back as the late 1800s...

August 9, 2013 — Arielle Duhaime-Ross

Living with Voices inside Your Head

Myths can be more harmful than lies, Nobel laureate Harry Kroto has said, because they are more difficult to recognize and often go unexamined.

August 8, 2013 — Fred Guterl

Integrating Left Brain and Right, on a Computer

As computers have matured over time, the human brain has no way of keeping up with silicon’s rapid-fire calculating abilities. But the human cognitive repertoire extends far beyond just fast calculations...

August 8, 2013 — Larry Greenemeier

Cultured Beef: Do We Really Need a $380,000 Burger Grown in Petri Dishes?

For the first time, the public has been treated to the spectacle of lab-grown meat cooked and eaten via live Webcast. Backed by Google billionaire Sergey Brin, Dutch tissue engineer Mark Post unveiled his “cultured beef” at a press event on August 5, answering the question posed by a 2011 Scientific American feature: “When Will [...]..

August 5, 2013 — David Biello

Pigeons, Like Humans, Can Behave Irrationally

Gambling may seem like a uniquely human activity. Twinkling slot machines and croupiers in starched white shirts may be about as far from the natural world as we can get.

August 5, 2013 — Sandra Upson

“Eco-Goats” to Storm D.C. Cemetery

From Aug. 7 to 12, The Historic Congressional Cemetery in Washington D.C. is embracing a new type of green technology, one that will clear unwanted plant species while producing fresh fertilizer: “eco goats.” A herd of more than 100 goats will be temporarily grazing along the edges of the cemetery, clearing a 1.6-acre area of [...]..

August 2, 2013 — Bryan Bumgardner

Web Comics Splash with Color Thanks to an Unlikely iPhone Programmer (Q&A)

It only took a few days for Boudewjin Pelt to develop the software tools that digital artists like Jeff Zugale, co-author of the Webcomic Not Invented Here, now call “indispensable.” The tools, which Pelt posted online for free in 2004, gave digital artists the ability to color their artwork with just a few clicks of [...]..

August 2, 2013 — Arielle Duhaime-Ross

Telltale Language Reveals Who Is Keeping a Secret

Sharing a secret can forge a relationship and solidify a bond with a friend. Keeping a secret, however, can eat away at our health and happiness.  As it turns out, hiding a painful truth also changes the way we communicate with others...

August 2, 2013 — Sandra Upson
Global Water Shortages Grow Worse but Nations Have Few Answers

Global Water Shortages Grow Worse but Nations Have Few Answers

As we have been hearing, global water shortages are poised to exacerbate regional conflict and hobble economic growth. Yet the problem is growing worse, and is threatening to deal devastating blows to health, according to top water officials from the U.S...

August 1, 2013 — Dina Fine Maron

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