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Observations

Observations

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

Why Daylight Saving Time Should Be Abolished

It's that time of year in the U.S. when clocks "fall back" from Daylight Saving Time to standard time. What does that mean? Well, you get back the hour of sleep you lost last spring and you can look forward to a week or so of feeling discombobulated.The railroads were the first to set the time in the 19th century, coordinating distant clocks so that trains could run on theoretically precise timetables (this cut down on crashes.)...

November 4, 2011 — David Biello

Slum-Dog Marketing Introduces the Janitor as Consumer Role Model

Chrysler recruited Eminem to plug its 200 Sedan during the Super Bowl. George Clooney has shilled Martini vermouth. “Influentials,” as they are known by consumer marketers, have been around since way before Ronald Reagan was doing spots for GE in the 1950s.The marketing of high-tech gadgetry and a few other selected products, however, can apparently invert the rationale of exploiting star cred to rub off on a Lexus or a Suntory bottle...

November 2, 2011 — Gary Stix

Income and Health Inequalities Cut U.S.'s High Marks for Development

If global development were a horse race, would you put your money on the slow-and-steady contenders or a fast new contender? With this year's results just in, the old stalwart Scandinavian countries are still in the lead, according to the 2011 United Nations' Human Development Index, published Wednesday...

November 2, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

Energy Economics: What Will Turn Us On in 2030?

Advanced lithium-ion batteries may be all the rage for electric cars, but that doesn't mean one no longer faces drain anxiety when sitting in the audience of an energy conference taking notes on a laptop while a speaker extols their virtues...

November 2, 2011 — David Biello

Scientific American-Then and Now

Thoughts on the first issue of Scientific American, from 1845, now available online . Nature Publishing Group (which publishes Scientific American ) announced today that it has now digitized all of Scientific American ’s archive, going back to Volume 1, Issue 1 from 1845.I decided to take a look at the first issue, which was targeted to Americans of a mechanical bent, and started to reflect on how much (or how little) has changed in the intervening 166 years: Then:In 1845, the editor wrote "we shall endeavour to avoid all expressions of sentiment, on any sectional, sectarian, or political party subject."Now:In the words of Shawn Lawrence Otto, we at Scientific American understand that "Science is never partisan, but science is always political." Stating that evidence shows that something is true independent of what others—no matter their wealth or rank—think of it can be very subversive...

November 1, 2011 — Christine Gorman

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