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Observations

Observations

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

Feed the World, Save the Planet

The world's population will cross the 7 billion mark this month and is projected to reach more than 9 billion by 2050. So many more people, plus rising living standards, mean that global agriculture will have to double food production by mid-century.Yet farming and ranching already exact a daunting toll on the environment: burn down rain forests to create more arable land, dump fertilizers onto fields that run off and choke life in rivers and oceans, emit volumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, use up vast stores of freshwater for irrigation...

October 12, 2011 — Mark Fischetti

I Was a Teenage Element Hoarder

I knew I wasn't like the other kids. Oh sure, I collected baseball cards and model airplanes, but not with the passion that I saved for my real obsession—collecting each and every element of the periodic table.This was just part of my chemical romance, which also involved (but was not limited to): watching phenolphthalein solution in test tubes change color, launching sodium carbonate/acetic acid (vinegar)–powered rockets, generating the sulfurous odor of rotten eggs and making a smoke bomb that accidentally detonated in the basement, and eventually graduating to electrolysis and various combustibles that fortunately resulted only in singed eyebrows, but no loss of digits or eyesight.Outside of explosives, however, lay the Holy Grail—a complete set of the fundamental building blocks of the universe...

October 11, 2011 — Michael J. Battaglia

U.K. Geoengineering Tests Delayed until Spring

Controversial tests of geoengineering hardware, initially set to start in October, have been delayed. The British government agency that provides funding to the project issued the delay on September 29, in order "to allow time for more engagement with stakeholders."In mid-September, a team of U.K...

October 7, 2011 — Sarah Fecht

Steve Jobs on Death [Video]

In the spring of 2005, Steve Jobs gave the commencement speech at Stanford University. It had been a year since he had first been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

October 6, 2011 — Michael Moyer

Now: Bring Science Home Every Week!

At Scientific American , we appreciate the value of a good experiment. So in May, we launched Bring Science Home as a series of free science activities for parents to do together with their six- to 12-year-old kids...

October 6, 2011 — Mariette DiChristina

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