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Observations

Observations

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

Could a genetic cholesterol control protect some people from dementia?

The more information about cholesterol's complex health role that comes to light, the more curious are the ways it seems to be important.

A growing body of research has noted the substance's importance in the brain (which holds about a quarter of the body's total cholesterol)...

January 12, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

Best in show: Scientists pursue selected gene mutations bred into dogs

When humans started to domesticate dogs around 14,000 years ago, they unknowingly embarked on a genetics experiment that is still going on today. Although domesticated canines were probably first kept around the home because they made good watchdogs, humans have selected breeds in the past few hundred years to have an encyclopedia of exaggerated traits, from flat faces to stubby legs or wrinkly skin...

January 12, 2010 — Carina Storrs

Elective cesarean sections are too risky, WHO study says

Despite medical advances and increasing access to improved obstetric care across the globe, surgical childbirths are still more risky for both mother and baby, according to an ongoing international survey by the World Health Organization (WHO)...

January 11, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

A galaxy of new worlds: Dispatch from the American Astronomical Society meeting

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The American Astronomical Society meeting, held here this week, was officially the largest congregation of astronomers (3,400 of them) in history—the most extraordinary collection of cosmic knowledge that has ever gathered together with the possible exception of when Isaac Newton dined alone...

January 8, 2010 — George Musser

Mountaintop removal mining: EPA says yes, scientists say no

On the heels of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announcement that it would allow a proposed coal mine involving mountaintop removal to go forward, 12 environmental scientists have published a review of the practice that condemns it in no uncertain terms...

January 8, 2010 — David Biello

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