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

Parachute failure before splashdown left Ares 1-X booster badly dinged

NASA's launch of the Ares 1-X test rocket Wednesday was a success—but, as it turns out, a qualified one. The rocket's first booster stage, which splashed down in the ocean as planned six minutes after launch, was found to be significantly dented when divers reached the mammoth cylinder to prep it for retrieval...

October 30, 2009 — John Matson

EPA tests porous pavement to combat contaminated rain runoff

In an effort to prevent polluted parking lot rain runoff from contaminating surrounding soil and underground water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday said it has launched decadelong test of permeable materials to find one that can filter out impurities in rainwater before it flows to its final destination...

October 30, 2009 — Larry Greenemeier

TED MED: Grandma's little robot helper

For Colin Angle, the statistics make the case clear. Institutional care for the elderly costs an average of more than $10,000 per month, about equal to “the mortgage payment for a $2 million home.” At the same time, three out of four seniors want to continue living at home...

October 30, 2009 — Mariette DiChristina

TED MED: Bringing medicine home for better care

Eric Dishman, a behavioral scientist, was holding a battered cardboard box with a mailing label on it. He promised the audience a preview of a wonderful tool for improving elderly health care and independence at home...

October 29, 2009 — Mariette DiChristina

Countdown to Copenhagen: Despite doubts about a treaty, 2009 shapes up as pivotal year for renewable energy

Beginning with the Obama administration's $70-billion commitment to ramping up the U.S.'s reliance of wind, water and solar power (not to mention hybrid vehicles) in February through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and ending with December's international climate conference in Copenhagen, this year promises to be pivotal in the worldwide development and adoption of renewable energy sources...

October 28, 2009 — Larry Greenemeier

Why your doctor should know where you have lived

Genes and how you live are important to good health—but where you live is also critical, and its importance has been overlooked in the past. At the TED MED conference yesterday, Bill Davenhall, global marketing manager, health and human services solutions at ESRI, a geographic information system developer, made a compelling plea to add a history of places to medical information that doctors review...

October 28, 2009 — Mariette DiChristina

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