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Observations

Observations

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

Did romantic composer Chopin suffer from epilepsy-induced hallucinations?

Whether incited by handicap, illness or drug use, the romantic movement was full of ghastly imaginings—such as those painted by Francisco de Goya—and fantastic scenes—as described in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Kubla Khan." At least one great music mind of the time might also have been influenced by more than a general malaise, report the authors of a new paper published online January 24 in Medical Humanities ...

January 25, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

More than a game: Researchers design video games that feature real microorganisms

Do video games change behavior? This question may be the subject of debate for years, but researchers have now shown the answer to be yes—for microorganism behavior, at least.A research group led by Stanford bioengineering professor Ingmar Riedel-Kruse has developed several real video games, inspired by Pac-Man, PONG and other classics, starring live organisms...

January 20, 2011 — Mike Orcutt

Habitable exoplanet claim gets another challenge

Don't pack your bags just yet for Gliese 581 g, the potentially habitable extrasolar planet that was announced in September.

No sooner had a team of American astronomers, led by veteran planet hunters Paul Butler and Steven Vogt, announced their discovery than competing groups and independent researchers dove into data sets both public and proprietary to see if they, too, could find the signature of the newfound world...

January 20, 2011 — John Matson

A 2.4-degree C rise by 2020? Probably not

Climate change is happening faster than scientists' predicted. Meltdowns in Greenland and Antarctica are well ahead of climate science projections and overall warming continues to accelerate—we have just endured the hottest year and hottest decade on record...

January 20, 2011 — David Biello

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