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Tag Archives: Scientific American

Is Guaranteed Income for All the Answer to Joblessness and Poverty?

Everything old is new again, as the saying goes, including the controversial idea that the solution to economic upheaval is free money. Universal basic income (UBI), a social policy that guarantees a fixed, unconditional stipend to all members of a designated group or entire country, has been kicked around for centuries by thinkers from Thomas Paine to Milton Friedman. Now ...

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Is Lip-Synching a Form of Cheating?

This month, my Scientific American column posed a question about art these days: Should we, the public, be allowed to know how much of it is human talent, and how much was assisted by technology? (I was thinking of, for example, Automatic mode on cameras, or Autotune, or GarageBand, which can produce finished, fully orchestrated songs even if you don’t ...

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The Ketamine Breakthrough for Suicidal Children

Fourteen-year-old Nicole, whose name I changed for her privacy, told her mother every day for years that she wanted to end her own life. Between suicide attempts were more psychiatric hospital visits than she or her mother could count. She refused to get out of bed, shower, or go to school, missing sixty school days in a single year. In ...

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Life on Earth Came from a Hot Volcanic Pool, Not the Sea, New Evidence Suggests

Scientific American August 2017 Deep oceans were thought to hold life’s origins. New evidence points instead to an active volcanic landscape It’s pitch-black. We have been scratching our way through dense underbrush in northwestern Australia, guided only by the dim light from a GPS screen. The light is too weak to reveal fallen trees that fill the dry creek bed ...

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How Did Life Begin on Earth?

There was light. But then what happened? How did life arise on the third rocky planet orbiting the unremarkable star at the center of our solar system? Humans have been wondering about the answer to that question probably almost as long as we’ve been able to wonder. In recent decades scientists have made some gains in understanding the conceivable mechanisms, ...

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Astronomers Detect Strange Signals from Red Dwarf Star

Strange radio signals have been spotted coming from the vicinity of a nearby star—but don’t get your hopes up that aliens  are responsible. On May 12, the 1,000-foot-wide (305 meters) Arecibo radio telescope  in Puerto Rico detected “some very peculiar signals” apparently emanating from Ross 128, a red dwarf star that lies just 11 light-years from Earth. “The signals consisted of broadband ...

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The Real Costs of Cheap Surveillance

The following essay is reprinted with permission from The Conversation , an online publication covering the latest research. Surveillance used to be expensive. Even just a few years ago, tailing a person’s movements around the clock required rotating shifts of personnel devoted full-time to the task. Not any more, though. Governments can track the movements of massive numbers of people ...

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California Locales Sue Fossil Fuel Companies for Rising Seas

Two California counties and a city yesterday sued 37 oil, natural gas and coal companies and trade groups, saying their actions intensified climate change and exacerbated costly sea-level rise. San Mateo County and Marin County in the San Francisco Bay Area and Imperial Beach in San Diego County in separate court filings sued companies that included Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil ...

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Super-Earths May Explain Curious Gaps in Planet-Forming Disks

NASA’s Kepler space telescope and other instruments have revealed the existence of thousands of alien planets. Most of them are “super-Earths “—rocky worlds with Earth- to Neptune-size masses.  But the existence of so many super-Earths seems to contradict astronomers’ understanding of planet formation. Indeed, observations of newborn solar systems  show features that seem to need the presence of more massive gas ...

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What Would It Take to Get an Effective Alzheimer's Drug?

Almost 47 million people live with dementia worldwide, and that number is expected to reach 131 million in 2050, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI). Dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is estimated to account for 60 to 80 percent of cases. Dementia affects about half of the population age 85 years or older. AD begins with progressively worsening dysfunction ...

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