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Observations

Observations

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

Newfound Asteroid to Zip Past Earth Today

A newly discovered asteroid should zoom past Earth June 27, posing no threat to the planet but significantly bending the orbital path of the asteroid [ see orbital diagram at left ].

June 27, 2011 — John Matson

Fukushima Absorbed: How Plutonium Poisons the Body

Plutonium has a half-life of about 24,000 years. And scientists have known for decades that even in small doses, it is highly toxic, leading to radiation illness, cancer and often to death...

June 26, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

Worldwide Diabetes More Than Doubled Since 1980

Diabetes incidence has been climbing precipitously in the developed world along with rises in obesity rates and dietary and other lifestyle changes. But a massive new study finds that the rest of the global population has not been immune to these changes...

June 25, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

Cosmic Microwaves and Alloys Earn Kyoto Prizes

The Inamori Foundation announced this year's Kyoto Prizes on June 24. It awarded the Basic Sciences prize to astrophysicist Rashid Sunyaev of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics and the Advanced Technology prize to materials scientist John W...

June 24, 2011 — Sophie Bushwick

How to Know If Hackers Have Stolen Your Password

Whatever you may feel about independent "hactivist" groups such as Anonymous and LulzSec, they are good at what they do. In the past few weeks members of these two groups have claimed responsibility for a number of data theft incidents, including the recent theft of more than 1 million user names and passwords from the Sony pictures web site...

June 23, 2011 — Michael Moyer

Why the Best Male Doesn't Always Win

NORMAN, Okla.—Survival of the fittest really boils down to reproduction of the fittest. If an animal can survive long enough to pass on its genes to a new generation, it has won out in the evolutionary competition...

June 22, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

City Living Changes Brain's Stress Response

Cities can be stressful places, and are a far cry from the sparsely populated landscapes in which our prehistoric ancestors evolved. All of that noise, traffic, pollution and crowding has a well-documented impact on our mental health...

June 22, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

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