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Observations

Observations

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

Are high food prices fueling revolution in Egypt?

Even with government subsidies and ration cards for bread, the true price of wheat in Egypt is nearly 30 percent higher today than it was a year ago—thanks to global prices for that staple cereal that have increased nearly 80 percent in the same span...

February 1, 2011 — David Biello

Obama's State of the Union: The facts about high-speed rail in the U.S.

President Obama made several references to the development of high-speed railways in the U.S., during his State of the Union Address, and stated that one of his administration's goals is to, within 25 years, "give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail." In support of this goal—which would go a long way toward alleviating air and road traffic and its associated pollution—the Obama administration last year began doling out the $8 billion it had promised for such projects as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)...

January 27, 2011 — Larry Greenemeier

Background noise: Elderly drivers might have a brain region to blame for declining driving skills

Debate about older adults' driving skills often touches on obvious impairments, such as failing vision and heavy medication use. But a new study suggests a deeper neurological explanation for why seniors have a hard time spotting obvious objects on the road: They might actually just be better at perceiving large-scale movement in the background, an ability that could compete with attention paid to smaller objects in the foreground...

January 25, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

"Do not track" options in store for Chrome, IE and Firefox

Google, Microsoft and Mozilla are moving quickly to respond to calls from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and consumer watchdogs for a "do not track" option that allows Web surfers to protect their private information from being exploited by advertising networks...

January 25, 2011 — Larry Greenemeier

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