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Observations

Observations

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

So you want to be a scientist

LINDAU, Germany—Play hard. Learn to explain what you do to people who know nothing about science. Put your collaborators’ needs first. A Thursday panel here at the 60th annual Nobel Laureate Lectures at Lindau gave young scientists tips—sometimes counterintuitive—about what it takes to succeed.

July 1, 2010 — Mariette DiChristina

What can a three-legged dog teach robots about resilience?

Anyone who's ever seen a dog move around on three limbs knows that canines are remarkably resilient creatures. Scientists are now wondering whether such adaptability could likewise be programmed into robots, in the event they experience damage or malfunction far from a repair shop (look no further than NASA's Mars Spirit rover to see why this is important).

June 30, 2010 — Larry Greenemeier

Student ROV operators show they are ready for deepwater missions

Students from across the globe converged on the University of Hawaii at Hilo last week to test their abilities to build and pilot remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) at the ninth annual Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center's 2010 International ROV Competition.

June 30, 2010 — Larry Greenemeier

The coming shortage of helium

LINDAU, Germany—Quick: What do MRI machines, rockets, fiber optics, LCDs, food production and welding have in common?They all require the inert, or noble, gas helium for their use or at some stage of their production.

June 30, 2010 — Mariette DiChristina

How did life begin on Earth?

LINDAU, Germany—What steps led to the origin of life on Earth? Scientists may be zeroing in on that most profound of questions. “We’ve gone a long way to showing” the processes that “set the stage” for cellular life on Earth, Jack Szostak said Tuesday here in his talk at the 60th annual Nobel Laureate Lectures at Lindau.Recent findings—such as that life seems to be everywhere on Earth—have encouraged scientific inquiries into the nature of life’s beginnings, said Szostak.

June 29, 2010 — Mariette DiChristina

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