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Observations

Observations

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

Mummy Says John Horgan Is Wrong about Fat and Carbs in Food

I was struck today by the juxtaposition of two recent articles here at ScientificAmerican.com. In “Thin Body of Evidence,” John Horgan expresses his skepticism about journalist Gary Taubes’s claims that carbohydrates, not fat, are the cause of obesity, heart disease and other health problems faced by many Americans...

May 19, 2011 — Karen Schrock

New Fossil Severs Snakes from Legless Lizard Line

Snakes aren’t just lizards without any legs. But a curious group of long, legless lizards look suspiciously like snakes themselves.

Also known as "worm lizards" (aka amphisbaenians), these small serpentine reptiles have evolved a limb-free body plan and strong heads that are handy for their burrowing lifestyle...

May 18, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

Space Is an Elaborate Illusion

Editor's Note: This post was intially published May 12 on the World Science Festival's Web site .My dad took a peculiar pleasure in fitting the maximum amount of stuff into the smallest possible space...

May 17, 2011 — George Musser

Do Bright Lights Mean a Big (Economic) City?

Take a look at this map depicting the U.S. at night. What should be immediately obvious is that there are a lot of bright lights exactly where the richest people live: the East Coast megalopolis from Boston through Washington, D.C., Midwestern burgs such as Chicago, Southern cities such as Atlanta and the West Coast conurbation that goes by the name Los Angeles...

May 16, 2011 — David Biello

Information Is Everywhere, How Can Science Protect It?

Editor's Note: The following blog post first appeared May 15 on the World Science Festival's Web site

Underscoring the importance of encryption in our increasingly data-driven digital lives, this year's World Science Festival features its first-ever session on cryptography, entitled "Keeping Secrets: Cryptography in a Connected World." During this discussion expect a well-rounded panel—including mathematician and computer scientist Brian Snow, scientist/journalist Simon Singh, cryptoanalyst Orr Dunkelman and cryptography researcher Tal Rabin—to break down cryptography, addressing its strengths and weaknesses as well as its impact on security and privacy...

May 16, 2011 — Larry Greenemeier

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