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Observations

Observations

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

Combating climate change by observing Earth

Combating climate change by observing Earth

As part of the U.S. charm offensive at the recent Copenhagen summit on climate change, a roughly one meter-diameter orb helped display a decade's worth of climate data collected by NASA satellites.

December 30, 2009 — David Biello
Music to the (ringing) ears: New therapy targets tinnitus

Music to the (ringing) ears: New therapy targets tinnitus

Loud, persistent ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus, can be vexing for its millions of sufferers. This perceived noise can be symptomatic of many different ills—from earwax to aging—but the most common cause is from noise-induced hearing loss, such as extended exposure to construction or loud music, and treating many of its underlying neural causes has proven difficult.

December 28, 2009 — Katherine Harmon
What could have stopped the Christmas bomber?

What could have stopped the Christmas bomber?

The would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab apparently ignited a plastic explosive with a syringe sewn into his underwear on Christmas as Northwest flight 253 prepared to land in Detroit.

December 28, 2009 — David Biello
Christmas with the leatherbacks

Christmas with the leatherbacks

Want to know where Noelle and Darwinia—two intrepid adult female leatherback turtles ( Dermochelys coriacea ) that nest in Gabon—are spending their Christmas?

December 24, 2009 — Larry Greenemeier
Microsoft exits this year $290 million lighter, thanks to Word patent infringement ruling

Microsoft exits this year $290 million lighter, thanks to Word patent infringement ruling

Patent lawsuits in the technology industry have become about as common as transistors these days. Still, when a tech company the size of Microsoft gets socked with a $290 million fine (as it did on Tuesday) and is forced to make changes to a flagship product like Word within a few months (or stop selling certain versions of the software all together), it does raise a few eyebrows.

December 23, 2009 — Larry Greenemeier
Accept no imitations: Chemist protests appearance of fake snowflakes

Accept no imitations: Chemist protests appearance of fake snowflakes

'Tis the season for snowstorms and for the holiday-themed artwork that references them. Snowflakes abound these days, even in places not buried in last weekend's East Coast blizzard—in advertisements, on Christmas cards, on paper cutouts made by schoolchildren.

December 23, 2009 — John Matson

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

Confronting Common Wisdom