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Observations

Observations

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

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

In praise of scientific error

My wife has first dibs on our New Yorker each week, so I only just got around to reading Jonah Lehrer’s piece on the scientific method in last week's issue, which has been getting so much attention from my fellow science writers...

December 20, 2010 — George Musser

Dimming city lights may help reduce smog

SAN FRANCISCO—City lights may do more than hide a starry sky: they could indirectly worsen daytime smog. Measurements of light pollution over Los Angeles have revealed a brighter glow than chemists expected—bright enough to destroy chemicals that would otherwise help cleanse the air during a dark night...

December 17, 2010 — Davide Castelvecchi

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