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Observations

Observations

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

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In a new documentary, Bjorn Lomborg says "Cool It"

Does Bjorn Lomborg add value to the global warming conversation or does he set it back? That depends on whom you ask. In 2008 The Guardian named the Danish academic and author of the 2004 controversial bestseller The Skeptical Environmentalist "one of the 50 people who could save the planet." In contrast, many see him as a disruptive and even damaging force in the ongoing debate regarding humanity's best course for dealing with global warming.A similar dichotomy characterizes the political discussion, at least in the United States, around the issue of climate change...

November 10, 2010 — Mike Orcutt

Autism and mammography: Two stories of statistical confusion

DENVER—There was substantial public outcry last year when new recommendations for mammograms came out suggesting that women could wait until age 50 to start breast cancer screening—and then only get screened every other year...

November 10, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

Obama's Indonesia trip may be cut short by deadly volcanic eruption

President Obama's visit to Indonesia this week will reportedly be cut a few hours short due to an ash plume from a volcanic eruption in the country. The eruption of Mount Merapi, more than 400 kilometers from Jakarta, where Obama is visiting, has killed more than 150 people since it began erupting in late October, according to The Washington Post ...

November 9, 2010 — John Matson

What are contemporary warfare's hidden assaults on public health?

DENVER—Few human undertakings have had such apparent and ceaseless negative impacts on human health and well-being as violent conflict. War might seem such an obvious assault on overall public health that it would hardly bear discussion at a scholarly meeting on that subject...

November 9, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

Is Pluto the biggest dwarf planet after all?

Pluto's controversial demotion from planetary status came in 2006 after the rapid discovery of comparably sized bodies—now named Haumea, Makemake and Eris—made Pluto look rather ordinary...

November 8, 2010 — John Matson

Stem cell research faces uncertain future after the elections

NEW YORK—With a Republican majority getting set to move into the House of Representatives in January—and fewer Democrats returning to the Senate—the upcoming lame-duck congressional session might be a key window for securing the future of stem cell research in the U.S...

November 5, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

Harper's: Former Scientific American editor pens bombshell Churchill critique

Madhusree Mukerjee distinguished herself at Scientific American for the depth of her knowledge about string and related theory as well as the elegance of her news and feature writing.After she left, the trained physicist applied her writing prowess to a book on the Andaman Islanders and recently to Churchill's Secret War, a scathing investigation from a raft of primary sources that revealed how direct decision-making by Winston Churchill  led to massive famine on the Indian subcontinent.Meet Madhusree in this recent interview in Harper's , in which she parries gracefully a series of sharp questions from interviewer Scott Horton...

November 5, 2010 — Gary Stix

From gadfly to bureaucrat: The FTC's new chief technology officer

Edward Felten, one of the most incisive minds of the digital age, has been appointed the chief technologist at the Federal Trade Commission. Scientific American gave the Princeton professor an award in 2003 for his critiques of digital privacy.The squib we ran at the time read:"Corporations intent on monopolizing the digital economy have come to fear Edward Felten, who has fought their claims with technical analysis sharpened by a sense of the ridiculous...

November 4, 2010 — Gary Stix

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