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Observations

Observations

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

Nanoscale imaging technique meets 3-D moviemaking

Three-dimensional movies are everywhere these days, and the novelty is poised to become a big-screen mainstay. Now the field of microscopy is getting into the act, too, but the end product is very different from 3-D movies such as Toy Story 3 or Avatar .

June 25, 2010 — John Matson

Once more into the breach for Orbital Sciences and the carbon observatory

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory was meant to precisely measure carbon dioxide throughout Earth's atmosphere. Instead, it wound up shattering on the Pacific Ocean* near Antarctica in 2009, a victim of a failed fairing—the aerodynamic nose cone shroud that keeps the satellite from burning up during launch.

June 23, 2010 — David Biello

Inside the Military-Robotics Complex

The quiet, suburban neighborhoods and strip malls that line Route 128, the main highway that circumscribes the Greater Boston area, hardly betray the area's high-tech firepower.

June 22, 2010 — Eric R. Olson

Full genome sequence shows body lice have lousy sense of smell

The body louse, a plague to humans and our ancestors for millions of years, subsists exclusively on our unwitting hospitality. Scientists have now parsed the modern human body louse's ( Pediculus humanus humanus ) genome, revealing a deep evolutionary dependence on humans and "remarkable completeness," despite being the shortest yet decoded in the insect group, the researchers wrote in a study published online June 21 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences .

June 21, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

Charge of the light brigade: How quantum dots may improve solar cells

Photovoltaic cells remain woefully inefficient at converting sunlight into electricity. Although layered cells composed of various elements can convert more than 40 percent of (lens-concentrated) sunlight into electricity, more simple semiconducting materials such as silicon hover around 20 percent when mass-produced.

June 18, 2010 — David Biello

Congress Hammers BP CEO for Dodging Deepwater Spill Responsibility

BP CEO Tony Hayward sat alone before the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Thursday to answer for his company's questionable decision to continue drilling this spring at the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil well despite safety concerns and that decision's catastrophic consequences.

June 17, 2010 — Larry Greenemeier

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