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Observations

Observations

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

Doctors Diagnose in a Jiffy--and Using Common Regions of the Brain

Medical school might be a long, slow slog, but once doctors have their training, they can often make diagnoses in a matter of moments. New research suggests that doctors actually identify an abnormality in less than two seconds—not much longer than it takes them to name an animal or a letter of the alphabet.Twenty-five radiologists submitted to having their brains scanned while performing visual diagnoses of chest x-rays...

December 14, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

Liken Yourself to a Lichen: Designate a Species with Your Name or Your Pooch's

If you discovered a new species, what would you name it? Some scientists go the descriptive route: Bambiraptor is a little raptor. Others try to make a joke – Aha ha is a species of Australian wasp named in 1977 by the entomologist Arhold Menke as a joke (Menke also used the name for his vanity license plate)...

December 14, 2011 — Rose Eveleth

Einstein Researcher: Disputed Longevity Gene Might Still Be a Winner

Nir Barzilai, a prominent researcher from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, read my story today on how a group of researchers from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago had failed to replicate an earlier result from Barzilai's team that linked a particular gene variant to protection against dementia...

December 13, 2011 — Gary Stix

Ultrafast Camera Records at Speed of Light

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) have developed an imaging system that can acquire visual data at a rate of one trillion exposures per second--fast enough to produce a slow-motion video of a burst of light traveling the length of a one-liter bottle, bouncing off the cap and reflecting back to the bottle's bottom.As Ramesh Raskar, an associate professor in M.I.T.'s Media Lab, explains in the video below, a high-speed camera can capture the image of a bullet mid-flight...

December 13, 2011 — Larry Greenemeier

Will 4G Interfere with GPS? Wireless Firm LightSquared Denies the Charge

The U.S. has been widely criticized in recent years for falling behind other developed countries in its deployment of high-speed wireless networks. The current dustup involving LightSquared, Bloomberg News and several government agencies provides some clues as to the complexity of the problem.LightSquared is proposing to build a high-speed nationwide 4G LTE (long-term evolution) network and lease capacity on that network to different wireless carriers, including Sprint Nextel Corp...

December 12, 2011 — Larry Greenemeier

Poor Design Can Be Bad for Your Health

I have always been impressed by the design of the coffee grinder. Here you've got a supersharp metal blade spinning around in a buzzing blur and chopping the living bejesus out of those coffee beans...

December 12, 2011 — Lena Groeger

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