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Observations

Observations

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

FDA to beef up standards for "health" food labeling

Currently abundant on most grocery store shelves, seals of approval for purportedly healthful food selections may become scarcer in the coming year. Some labels claiming foods are "smart choices" or "heart healthy" are patently misleading, according to the U.S.

October 21, 2009 — Katherine Harmon

Happy (25 x 3 - 1)th birthday to Martin Gardner

Longtime Scientific American columnist Martin Gardner turns 95 Wednesday, and a profile in Tuesday's New York Times honors the mathematical proselytizer who, tireless as ever, marks the milestone himself with the publication of a new book.

October 21, 2009 — John Matson

Spooky new spider weaves monster webs

One of the largest orb-weaving spiders had remained hidden from entomologists in plain sight. The new species of giant golden orb weaver ( Nephila komaci ), which builds meter-wide webs, entangled a doctoral student who stumbled upon a specimen in a museum collection.

October 21, 2009 — Katherine Harmon

Brain fest marks a gathering of the tribes

CHICAGO—The Society for Neuroscience, like Woodstock, just marked its 40th birthday. Undoubtedly, some of the attendees at the original Aquarian countercultural assemblage, ended up as full professors of experimental psychology, psychiatry and neurobiology, and now frequent the society's annual event that regularly draws more than 30,000 people.

October 20, 2009 — Gary Stix

Can Google Earth save an indigenous tribe with maps?

When Chief Almir first accessed Google Earth, he did what many others do and scrolled over the map to find his home. His home, however, happens to be a nominally protected swath of forest in the rapidly diminishing Amazonian rainforest.

October 19, 2009 — Katherine Harmon

Geoengineering wars: Another scientist teases out a surprising effect of global deforestation

AUSTIN—A new and unpublished analysis of the regional impacts of a hypothetical scheme to mitigate global warming via radical deforestation was unveiled here Sunday at a gathering of science journalists and writers, on the heels of a blogging firestorm about geoengineering and climate change in anticipation of the release of S uperfreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance .

October 19, 2009 — Robin Lloyd

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Introducing Scientific American Health & Medicine

Introducing Scientific American Health & Medicine