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Observations

Observations

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

Feel the Burn: How Do Scientists Count Calories?

Counting calories today is as easy as checking the label in a grocery store, or perusing the menu in a restaurant. But how accurate are these numbers, and how do food manufacturers and restaurants come up with them in the first place?...

July 25, 2011 — Sophie Bushwick

FDA Starts to Tackle Regulation of Health and Medical Apps

On-the-go doctors can already see your latest MRI or CT scan via a smart phone or tablet. But would you want them to be able to download an app that essentially turns an iPad into an EKG to determine if you are having a heart attack?...

July 22, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

A Tribute to All 135 of NASA's Space Shuttle Missions [Video]

Now that Atlantis has safely returned to Earth and the 30-year space shuttle program has drawn to a close, it's time to look back at the reign of Discovery, Atlantis, Endeavour and the tragically shortened careers of Challenger and Columbia ...

July 21, 2011 — John Matson

Space Shuttle Era Ends with Safe Landing of Atlantis

NASA's 30-year space shuttle program drew to an end this morning when the Atlantis orbiter touched down safely at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The shuttle landed to complete its final mission—and the final mission for the shuttle program overall—at 5:57 A.M...

July 21, 2011 — John Matson

Migraine Revelations Afflict Michelle Bachmann's Campaign

The presidential run of Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) hit an unexpected obstacle Tuesday when The Daily Caller reported that, according to sources close to her campaign, she suffered from debilitating migraine headaches brought on by stress on an almost weekly basis...

July 21, 2011 — John Rennie

Lowered Male Fertility Linked to Common Genetic Mutation [Video]

Sperm face steep odds when set free to fertilize an egg. A slightly faulty tail, a miscalibrated electrical charge on their cell membrane or some other subtle defect can keep these genetic couriers from becoming the lucky, lone swimmer that sires offspring.And now it seems that a surprisingly common genetic mutation might decrease a man's chances of having viable sperm even further...

July 20, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

Odd Insect Fossils Suggest Early Carnivorous Lifestyle

A recently described swarm of fossil insects unearthed from a 100 million-year-old South American formation are a Frankensteinian riot of mismatched parts: lengthy praying mantis-like front legs; long, slim wings like a dragonfly; and wing-vein patterns to match those of modern-day mayflies...

July 19, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

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