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Observations

Observations

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

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

Hospital error leads to CT scan radiation overdoses in 206 patients

How well do hospital medical technicians know their equipment? Not well enough in the case of some health care workers at Cedars–Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where 206 x-ray computed tomography (CT) scan patients were given eight times the normal dose of radiation during brain scans over an 18-month period...

October 13, 2009 — Larry Greenemeier

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