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Observations

Observations

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

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AUSTIN—A new and unpublished analysis of the regional impacts of a hypothetical scheme to mitigate global warming via radical deforestation was unveiled here Sunday at a gathering of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

Evolution details revealed through 21-year E. coli experiment

In 1988 an associate professor started growing cultures of Escherichia coli . Twenty-one years and 40,000 generations of bacteria later, Richard Lenski, who is now a professor of microbial ecology at Michigan State University, reveals new details about the differences between adaptive and random genetic changes during evolution...

October 18, 2009 — Katherine Harmon

Scabby knaves: Barnacles bind to ships using clotlike glue

Hitchhiking on the surface of a boat hull can be a rough ride, but barnacles seem to do it with ease. How are they able to hang on so tightly? Researchers have been studying the composition of super-strong barnacle glue for years, and a new analysis of the cement reveals that it has many of the same properties as a human blood coagulant, factor XIII, which helps to form scabs...

October 16, 2009 — Katherine Harmon

Burning bunnies for biofuel?

The Swedes, those latter-day descendants of bloodthirsty Vikings, have found a new use for rabbits: heating fuel. According to Der Spiege l, stray rabbits in Stockholm are being shot, frozen and then shipped to a heating plant to be incinerated...

October 14, 2009 — David Biello

Should advanced dementia be considered a terminal illness?

Advanced dementia has often been treated as an amalgamation of symptoms in the aging, rather than a deadly illness in itself. A new study, published online today in The New England Journal of Medicine , proposes that it may be beneficial—for patients and caretakers alike—to take the latter approach...

October 14, 2009 — Katherine Harmon

Silent but deadly? Electric cars may be too quiet for pedestrian safety

Enjoy (or fear) the silence while it lasts. Battery-driven vehicles are touted for their potential to cut down on harmful emissions spewed for decades by gasoline-powered cars, but electric and hybrid vehicles may be too quiet to be heard by pedestrians, posing a particular danger to people without sight...

October 14, 2009 — Larry Greenemeier

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