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Observations

Observations

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

Breast cancer deaths drop over past two decades

The number of women who die from breast cancer has decreased slowly (about 2 percent per year) but steadily since 1990, according to a new report by the American Cancer Society (ACS), released to mark the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

October 1, 2009 — Katherine Harmon

Lessons from a Dead Fish

The revolution in neuroscience is often characterized as a revolution in new imaging technology.A long overdue reassessment of  neuroimaging machines—in particular the functional magnetic resonance imager—has underlined that what you see is not always what you get.A study published this year in Perspectives on Psychological Science noted that many papers in social neuroscience, the field that examines the neurobiology of social behavior, suffered from faulty analyses that produced "voodoo correlations" in their data.

September 29, 2009 — Gary Stix

NASA spacecraft to buzz Mercury a third and final time today

In a pair of flybys by a robotic explorer last year, planetary scientists began to unravel some of the mysteries of Mercury, a planet that is difficult to study from Earth and that had not been visited by a spacecraft since the 1970s.

September 29, 2009 — John Matson

Could a microchip help to diagnose cancer in minutes?

Current cancer screening often requires painful procedures and weeks of waiting to obtain results. But what if doctors could read a biological sample with a small hand-held device and come back with an answer in less than an hour?

September 28, 2009 — Katherine Harmon

Uganda embarks on bubonic plague prevention program

As reports of bubonic plague in the Democratic Republic of Congo have filtered into neighboring Uganda, the Ugandan government is taking preemptive action, according to Uganda's Daily Monitor and reported by ProMED-mail.

September 28, 2009 — Katherine Harmon

Are Torosaurus and Triceratops one and the same?

A rare horned dinosaur known as Torosaurus may not be a distinct species, after all, according to a presentation given Friday at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Bristol, England.

September 28, 2009 — Kate Wong

Surrogates: A little too true to life

When l was an astronomy teaching assistant in grad school, some of my students would look through the telescope eyepiece at Saturn, pull back as if they didn't know what to make of it, look again, and ask: “That’s really Saturn?

September 24, 2009 — George Musser

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