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Observations

Observations

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

Conquering cancer with implants? Bioengineered vaccines and magnetic nanodiscs show promise

Conquering cancer with implants? Bioengineered vaccines and magnetic nanodiscs show promise

Rather than surgically removing tumors, what if doctors could simply implant new tools in our bodies to do the work internally? One team of researchers has been able to vanquish tumors in mice by implanting bioengineered disks filled with tumor-specific antigens, and another has developed magnetized nanodiscs to induce cancer cells to destroy themselves. 

Numerous cancer vaccines have shown promise in animal models only to later fail to generate results in humans.

November 29, 2009 — Katherine Harmon
Finally: Social science data that could be all about you

Finally: Social science data that could be all about you

Early next year, 350 or so Penn State students and staff, as well as local retirees and others, will wander around State College, Pa., for three weeks, pausing intermittently to drop their heads down as they tap on smart phones to answer detailed questions about how they feel immediately after nearly every social interaction they have.

November 27, 2009 — Robin Lloyd
NFL gains yards in its treatment of players' head injuries

NFL gains yards in its treatment of players' head injuries

As early as this season's playoffs, National Football League players will have to get the approval of an independent neurosurgeon or neurologist before they can return to play following a head injury or concussion.

November 27, 2009 — Carina Storrs
Obama and (climate) change: Indian edition

Obama and (climate) change: Indian edition

The U.S. launched this week a historic program to advance clean energy in India—where simply moving the 40 percent of the South Asian nation's citizens who still burn coal, dung or wood to electricity could deliver major improvements for development, clean air and climate.

November 27, 2009 — David Biello
What would rings around Earth look like?

What would rings around Earth look like?

A video currently making the rounds on the Web ponders an intriguing astronomical scenario: What if Earth had rings, as Saturn does?

If the animation below, by YouTube user Roy Prol, is to be believed (and it seems to jibe with related imaginings, such as one in a NASA educator guide about Saturn [pdf]), rings would be a stunning addition to Earth's sky, day or night.

November 25, 2009 — John Matson
Stem Cells Could Offer New Source for Skin Grafts

Stem Cells Could Offer New Source for Skin Grafts

Researchers are now one step closer to being able to use skin tissue derived from stem cells for the treatment of burn victims, according to a study published November 21 in The Lancet .

November 25, 2009 — Carina Storrs
Climate change cover-up? You better believe it

Climate change cover-up? You better believe it

Was Sen. James Inhofe right when he declared 2009 the year of the climate contrarian? A slew of emails stolen from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit highlight definite character flaws among some climate scientists—including an embarrassing attempt to delete emails that discussed the most recent report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—while also exposing what looks like a failure of scientists to acknowledge a halt to global warming in the past decade.

November 24, 2009 — David Biello
How much is that drug ad costing taxpayers?

How much is that drug ad costing taxpayers?

Consumer advertisements for at least one popular prescription drug have failed to stimulate increased sales among those on Medicaid, but the ads do seem to have upped the medicine's price tag, a new study claims, raising policy questions about the direct-to-consumer marketing approach.

November 23, 2009 — Katherine Harmon

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