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

Supreme Court Strikes Down Anti-Prostitution Pledge Tied to Global AIDS Funding

The Supreme Court today struck down a federal requirement that forced private health organizations to denounce prostitution in order to get funding for programs aimed at preventing or treating HIV/AIDS.The decision marks a major victory for human rights and global health advocates who charged that the requirement was a U.S...

June 20, 2013 — Dina Fine Maron

Zero Evidence That Legos Harm Your Kids

LEGO toys have never been so controversial, or angry for that matter, but that should not stop your kids from playing with them. There has been a lot of noise over a study, released June 4, that looked into the evolution of the facial expressions printed on LEGO minifigures—those one and half-inch toy figurines that come with LEGO block sets...

June 20, 2013 — Arielle Duhaime-Ross

New Astronauts Face Limited Opportunities for Spaceflight

NASA announced on Monday its 2013 class of astronaut candidates, but the current state of the agency’s human spaceflight program makes it hard to get excited about what lies ahead for these remarkable individuals.To mark the announcement, NASA hosted a Google Hangout on Air with several administrators and former astronauts. After sifting through more than 6,300 applications—the second-highest amount ever received—NASA chose four men and four women, and will train them “for missions to low Earth orbit, an asteroid and Mars,” according to a NASA press release.NASA’s human spaceflight program has gone through some recent downsizing...

June 18, 2013 — Bryan Bumgardner

Supreme Court Rejects Patents on 2 Naturally Occurring Genes

When Angelina Jolie announced last month that she decided to get a prophylactic double mastectomy, she based her decision on the presence of the BRCA1 gene in her body—a gene that was detected via a costly medical test.The Supreme Court today unanimously struck down patents on BRCA1 and BRCA2 —two genes linked to hereditary forms of breast and ovarian cancer—when the genes occur in the body...

June 13, 2013 — Dina Fine Maron

Who Is Fooling Whom When It Comes to Combating Climate Change?

  Here's the scam. A Chinese company manufactures hydrofluorocarbons, the refrigerant gases partially responsible for climate change. The gases can efficiently be turned into cash, either by using them in products like refrigerators or air conditioners or, more lucratively, by destroying them...

June 11, 2013 — David Biello

Is It Possible to Keep Electronic Secrets?

Unless you live under a rock, you've heard of PRISM, a vast digital surveillance program run by the National Security Agency that was recently revealed by a whistleblower.

June 10, 2013 — Bryan Bumgardner

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