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Observations

Observations

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

Ancient "terror bird" used rigid skull to drive its hooked beak into prey

The large, big-beaked "terror birds" (Phorusrhacidae) didn't need flight to snag a Miocene meal. Some of these extinct, flightless fowl likely used their massive rigid skulls and hooked beaks to chomp into prey with strong, successive pulls, concluded a research team after performing a biomechanical analysis of fossilized skulls...

August 18, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

Heady days of nanotech funding behind it, the U.S. faces big challenges

Nearly a decade after the U.S. launched its National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), the program's $12 billion in funding has helped place the country at the head of the pack regarding the development of science and technology measured in billionths of meters...

August 18, 2010 — Larry Greenemeier

Are some ADHD-labeled kids just young for their grade?

A child that is easily distracted, fidgety and interruptive in school might not have a clinical case of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but might rather just be acting his or her age, posit researchers behind two new studies of diagnosis trends...

August 17, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

Oil spill's human health impacts might extend into the future

Scientists are still assessing the ecological damage wrought by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year. Other researchers, however, are looking at subtler signs of the disaster's potential impacts on human health...

August 16, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

Optic pacemaker: Embryonic heartbeats paced with laser pulses

The heart's electrical pulse has made possible the modern-day pacemaker, a device that has helped keep millions of human hearts beating. Such invasive devices, however, have proved difficult to use on small, delicate embryonic animal hearts, which some researchers study to learn more about the early stages of heart development, as well as to develop new treatments for disorders...

August 15, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

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Scientific American Health & Medicine

Scientific American Health & Medicine