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Observations

Observations

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

Alpha-carotene from veggies linked to longer life

Need another reason to eat your greens (and yellows and oranges) as part of a healthful diet in the New Year? A large U.S. study has found that adults with higher concentrations of serum alpha-carotene in their blood were likely to live longer than those who had lower levels...

December 30, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

Fossilized food stuck in Neandertal teeth indicates plant-rich diet

Ancient humans' lax dental hygiene has been a boon for researchers looking for clues about early diets. Traces of fossilized foodstuffs wedged between Neandertal teeth have revealed plentiful traces of grains and other plants, supporting the theory that these heavy-browed humans were not just meat-eaters...

December 27, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

Genomes for wild strawberries and fine cacao sequenced

Can chocolate-dipped strawberries be improved upon—genetically? Separate teams of researchers have sequenced the genomes of varieties of the two crops that make up this treat, finding key coding information that could help keep these sweets on dessert trays—and assist science in the meantime...

December 26, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

Why is the north magnetic pole racing toward Siberia?

Finding Santa Claus's home at the North Pole is easy on a globe—just look for the point on top where all the lines of longitude meet. But that is just the "geographic" North Pole; there are several other definitions for the poles, all useful in different scientific or navigational contexts...

December 24, 2010 — John Matson

Beyond the Light Switch: What to do about coal ash?

The aftermath of burning a mountain of coal isn't pretty. It's not just the ash itself; it's also the toxic elements that have been purified by fire out of the "fossilized sunshine."Those toxic elements come along for the ride when the coal ash spills, like it did near Kingston, Tenn., on December 22, 2008...

December 21, 2010 — David Biello

Autistic children have trouble catching on to patterns in real-world scenarios

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often exhibit a heightened ability to pick out patterns and excel at other visual-spatial tests. But a new study puts this presumption to the test in a more real-world scenario and finds that ASD kids are actually found wanting when it comes to search skills...

December 20, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

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