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

The 2010 Kavli Prizes honors eight scientists in astrophysics, nanotech and neuroscience

Eight scientists will share three million-dollar Kavli Prizes for their contributions in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience. The announcement was made today in Oslo, Norway, by Nils Christian Stenseth, president of the Nor­wegian Academy of Science and Letters, and broadcast live at the opening of the World Science Festival in New York City...

June 3, 2010 — Katie Moisse

What's next for synthetic life?

COLD SPRING, N.Y.— J. Craig Venter and his colleagues recently announced that they had created the first cell to run on a fully artificial genome.

June 3, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

Old oyster shells reveal dry, salty details of Jamestown settlers' hardships

What can a handful of old oyster shells reveal about the trials some of the New World's early European settlers? A lot, it turns out.

As a prevalent resource in the Chesapeake Bay, eastern oysters ( Crassostrea virginica ) ended up being a crucial food source for the first full-time European settlers in North America, who arrived in 1607, the second year of a seven-year drought that was the worst the region had seen in some 800 years...

May 31, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

"Top kill" fails to stop flow of oil in Gulf of Mexico

Despite golf balls, tires, 30,000 horsepower of pumps and 30,000 barrels of dense drilling mud chock full of barite, BP's so-called "top kill" operation failed to stop the disastrous oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico and was abandoned on the afternoon of May 29...

May 29, 2010 — David Biello

"Top kill" goes on into the night [update]

After a 16-hour pause to evaluate the effects of the "top kill" operation, BP plans to start pumping mud again this evening in an attempt to staunch the flow of oil from the MC 252 well in the Gulf of Mexico...

May 27, 2010 — David Biello

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