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Observations

Observations

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

Fossil footprints of early modern humans found in Tanzania

MINNEAPOLIS—Newly discovered fossil footprints at a site in northern Tanzania on the shore of Lake Natron capture a moment in time around 120,000 years ago when a band of 18 humans—early members of our own species, Homo sapiens —traipsed across wet volcanic ash to an unknown destination...

April 14, 2011 — Kate Wong

Did Lucy's species butcher animals?

MINNEAPOLIS—In August 2010 archaeologists announced that they had discovered evidence that pushed back the origin of butchery nearly 800,000 years.

April 13, 2011 — Kate Wong

Octopuses and squids are damaged by noise pollution

Not only can squids and octopuses sense sound, but as it turns out, these and other so-called cephalopods might be harmed by growing noise pollution in our oceans—from sources such as offshore drilling, ship motors, sonar use and pile driving...

April 12, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

Is Fukushima really as bad as Chernobyl?

One month to the day after the devastating twin blows of a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent 15-meter tall tsunami, Japanese officials have reclassified the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant at the highest possible level...

April 12, 2011 — David Biello

New hope for preventing pre-term births

It’s one of the great frustrations of obstetric medicine: humans have been reproducing for hundreds of thousands of years, and yet doctors still haven't unraveled the mystery of why some women give birth well before their babies have fully developed in the womb.Despite researchers' and physicians' best efforts, the rate of preterm births—defined as babies born before 37 weeks of gestation—climbed 30 percent from 1981 through 2006...

April 8, 2011 — Anna Kuchment

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