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Observations

Observations

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

Researchers aim to prevent identity theft from medical records

Over time, patients end up providing a wealth of information to their health care providers, and when all our data are aggregated, they are also a boon to researchers studying trends in diseases and demographics for clues in how to better treat illness.

April 12, 2010 — Larry Greenemeier

More evidence suggests Venus has recent volcanic activity

Venus, the closest planet to Earth in both size and proximity, remains a source of considerable mystery. Its reflective clouds prevent a clear view of the planet, and for centuries little was known about its surface and inner workings.

April 12, 2010 — John Matson
Australopithecus sediba, the new human species from South Africa">

Discoverer of "Lucy" raises questions about Australopithecus sediba, the new human species from South Africa

By now you've probably heard of Australopithecus sediba, the 1.95-million-year-old human species that made news on April 8. In a nutshell, researchers have found two beautifully preserved partial skeletons that they say represent a previously unknown member of the human family--one that may have given rise to our genus, Homo.

April 9, 2010 — Kate Wong

Bountiful bots: National Robotics Week arrives this weekend

The inaugural National Robotics Week, which kicks off Saturday and lasts through April 18 (apparently, a robot's week doesn't start on Sunday like ours does), aims to recognize the role that robots play worldwide in agriculture, health care, manufacturing, national defense and security, and transportation.

April 9, 2010 — Larry Greenemeier

Cool brown dwarf may be a newfound neighbor of the sun

Brown dwarfs straddle the divide between planets and stars—they are celestial objects too small to burn hydrogen in fusion reactions, as stars do, but they are large enough to sustain other kinds of fusion.

April 9, 2010 — John Matson

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