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Observations

Observations

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

Are courtrooms and toxic torts the new side of public health?

NEW YORK—The inspiring story of Erin Brockovich's legal battle with Pacific Gas and Electric Company for contaminating drinking water ended with a $333-million settlement to families in Hinkley, Calif., exposed to the company's hexavalent chromium waste, not to mention blockbuster acclaim for Brockovitch.

January 28, 2010 — Carina Storrs

Apple introduces the iPad and iBooks

What do you know? McGraw-Hill CEO Harold McGraw was on the money yesterday when he said Apple would announce a tablet on Wednesday. The iPad now has officially arrived, weighing in at less than a kilogram, with a 25-centimeter LED-backlit display that is just over a centimeter thick.

January 27, 2010 — Larry Greenemeier

Running barefoot is better, researchers find

Mother Nature has outpaced science once again: the bare human foot is better for running than one cushioned by sneakers. What about those $125 high-tech running shoes with 648 custom combinations?

January 27, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

What the small-brained hobbit reveals about primate evolution

Is bigger always better? When it comes to brain size, that has long been the prevailing theory—at least among big-brained humans. But a new analysis shows that in the course of primate evolution, brains and brawn haven't always been on the rise.

January 26, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

Apple's new gadget is a tablet, McGraw-Hill confirms

McGraw-Hill's CEO has answered the burning question in technology for the past several months—what exactly does Apple have up its sleeve? During an interview Tuesday afternoon on CNBC, Harold McGraw confirmed on-air that Apple will introduce its tablet computer Wednesday and that it will use the iPhone operating system.

January 26, 2010 — Larry Greenemeier

Little girls are made of sugar and spice, and learn that math is not nice

One of the first lessons that girls often learn in elementary school is that boys are better at math.

Although this incorrect lesson is certainly not part of the curriculum, first- and second-grade teachers, who are predominately female and math-averse, communicate that math is not their strong suit to some female students, according to a study published January 25 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences .

January 25, 2010 — Carina Storrs

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