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Observations

Observations

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

Buzzing: 13-Year Periodic Cicadas Emerge

The humble vibrato of summer will crescendo a bit earlier this year in the U.S. South. Billions of cyclical cicadas will be out in full force starting this May, following a 13-year lull...

May 4, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

Artificial Intelligence: If at First You Don't Succeed...

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—The last symposium in M.I.T.'s 150-day celebration of its 150th anniversary (who ever said that geeks don't like ritual?) is devoted to the question: "Whatever happened to AI?"Of course, that is a particularly appropriate self-introspection for M.I.T...

May 4, 2011 — Gary Stix

Robots Evolve to Look Out for Their Own

A robot must protect its own existence.

This mid-20th-century dictate to the robotic clade from science fiction author and biochemist Isaac Asimov seems cleanly in step with Darwinian theory and the biological world of survival of the fittest...

May 3, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

BPA Linked to Wheezing in Babies

Could plastic bottles and metal food-can liners be contributing to the American asthma epidemic? A study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting this past weekend suggests so, finding that pregnant women exposed to bisphenol A (BPA)—a chemical building block of plastics from polycarbonate to polyester—gave birth to children with a higher risk of respiratory problems...

May 3, 2011 — David Biello

Being overweight in midlife might increase chance of dementia later

Obesity and dementia have a well-established connection in the medical literature. But a new study shows that just being overweight—with a BMI of 25 or above—in middle age might also significantly increase the odds that a person develops dementia later in life...

May 2, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

Welcome to 'Bring Science Home'

As a kid, I often spent an afternoon after a big rain storm with my brothers tromping down to a local drainage stream to see what the water had washed in.

May 2, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

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