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Tag Archives: Scientific American

The Arctic Is a Profoundly Different Place Now

The Arctic is experiencing a profound shift into a new state as it loses ice and breaks high temperature records, a clear sign that some of the worst effects of climate change are already happening. And as the region warms and ice melts, a new survey shows that sea levels may rise an additional foot on top of previous efforts ...

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Dolphins' Watertight Sex Involves a Strange Twist

Being a scientist can be a strange job. Like on the days when your work involves inserting the artificially inflated penis of a dead dolphin into the recently thawed vagina of another dead dolphin, all inside a CT scanner. For new research presented yesterday (April 23) at the annual meeting of the American Association of Anatomists in Chicago, scientists did ...

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Ancestors of Flores "Hobbits" May Have Been Pioneers of First "Human" Migration Out of Africa

The following essay is reprinted with permission from The Conversation , an online publication covering the latest research. I was in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2008 and lucky enough to examine the bones of one of the most controversial hominin species that has ever been discovered. The skeletal remains belonged to an ancient people with tiny brains, and so short that they ...

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Cross-Cultural Evidence for the Genetics of Homosexuality

The reasons behind why people are gay, straight, or bisexual have long been a source of public fascination. Indeed, research on the topic of sexual orientation offers a powerful window into understanding human sexuality. The Archives of Sexual Behavior recently published a special edition devoted to research in this area, titled “The Puzzle of Sexual Orientation.” One study , conducted ...

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Brave New Wool? Artificial Womb Sustains Premature Lambs for Weeks

An artificial womb that could someday sustain extremely prematurely born infants  has managed to keep baby sheep alive for four weeks. The womb, called a “biobag,” is a plastic bag filled with fluid to mimic the conditions inside of a uterus. A baby born too early could spend a few weeks in the bag, where tubes from their umbilical cord to an external device would ...

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How Gut Bacteria Tell Their Hosts What to Eat

0SHARESShare Scientists have known for decades that what we eat can change the balance of microbes in our digestive tracts. Choosing between a BLT sandwich or a yogurt parfait for lunch can increase the populations of some types of bacteria and diminish others—and as their relative numbers change they secrete different substances, activate different genes and absorb different nutrients. And ...

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Selective Breeding Molds Foxes Into Pets

Want to make a dog? Well, wolves evolved into dogs at least once . But it turns out you can also make what’s basically a dog by starting with wild foxes . Select the ones that do not seem to want to tear the researcher’s face off and mate them to produce the next generation. “Within five or six generations ...

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Post-Science March we Must Stay Engaged

0SHARESShare Late last year I looked down as they placed my newborn son into my arms and marveled at the brand-newness of this tiny person gazing back at me. And watching him open his little eyes, I wondered what this world would be like when he’s my age. Will he be protected from lead and mercury to stay healthy into ...

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One Big Legal Obstacle Keeps Trump from Undoing Greenhouse Gas Regulation

Pres. Donald Trump’s administration has announced plans to dismantle an array of federal efforts to fight global warming, including a program to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, a rule limiting methane gas leaks and a mandate that aggressively boosts auto emissions standards. But Trump officials face a major roadblock in their efforts, legal scholars say. It is the ...

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Programming as a Way of Thinking

Programming has changed. In first generation languages like FORTRAN and C, the burden was on programmers to translate high-level concepts into code. With modern programming languages—I’ll use Python as an example—we use functions, objects, modules, and libraries to extend the language, and that doesn’t just make programs better, it changes what programming is. Programming used to be about translation: expressing ...

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