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Tag Archives: Scientific American

An Educator's Plea To Betsy DeVos

Despite our best efforts, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education. This is terrible news for our nation’s public schools. Those of us concerned about science education will have to pour our efforts into protecting our schools on a local and state level. We’ll also have to push hard for accountability. Just because DeVos was confirmed doesn’t mean she ...

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Is Fusion Energy in Our Future?

John Holdren has heard the old joke a million times: fusion energy is 30 years away—and always will be. Despite the broken promises, Holdren, who early in his career worked as a physicist on fusion power, believes passionately that fusion research has been worth the billions spent over the past few decades—and that the work should continue. In December, Scientific ...

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The Science of Genius

Identifying genius is a dicey venture. Consider, for example, this ranking of “The Top 10 Geniuses” I once stumbled across on Listverse.com. From first to last place, here are the honorees: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Leonardo da Vinci, Emanuel Swedenborg, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, John Stuart Mill, Blaise Pascal, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Bobby Fischer, Galileo Galilei and Madame de Staël. 0SHARESShare Tweet

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Cringeworthy Ideas for Trench Warfare, 1917

Inventors were just as appalled as everyone else by the massive casualties being caused by the fighting in the First World War. And they wanted to help. So far, so good. Here’s some bright spark’s simple idea for helping soldiers cut through “barbed wire” on the battlefield. This wire-cutting gizmo was supposed to slip onto the end of a rifle ...

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VX Nerve Agent in North Korean's Murder: How Does It Work?

The lethal nerve agent VX  has been revealed to be the murder weapon used to kill Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The victim was attacked from behind at Kuala Lumpur airport in Malaysia by two female assailants who smeared his face with a cloth. Kim Jong-nam sought help from officials, complaining of pain in his ...

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Your Brain as Laboratory: The Science of Meditation

Meditation has surged in popularity in recent years, from a fringe interest to a mainstream trend championed by therapists, scientists, and celebrities. As part of this shift, misconceptions and dismissals have given way to the emerging recognition of meditation as a science. There are, however, those who would challenge this view. As both a scientist and a meditator, I feel ...

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Deadly U.S. Heroin Overdoses Quadrupled in 5 Years

The number of deadly heroin overdoses in the United States more than quadrupled from 2010 to 2015, a federal agency said on Friday, as the price of the drug dropped and its potency increased. There were 12,989 overdose deaths involving heroin in 2015, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, compared with 3,036 such fatalities five years earlier. In ...

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Corals May Get Temporary Reprieve from Bleaching

The world’s coral reefs, which have been hit hard by an unprecedented bleaching event that began in mid-2014, may see a bit of reprieve this year, according to an official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Mark Eakin, head of NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch program, said the “longest, most widespread bleaching event ever” has continued into 2017. However, climate ...

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Will Democracy Survive Big Data and Artificial Intelligence?

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in Spektrum der Wissenschaft, Scientific American’s sister publication, as “Digitale Demokratie statt Datendiktatur.” “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another.” —Immanuel Kant, “What is Enlightenment?” (1784) The digital revolution is in full swing. How will it change our world? The amount ...

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Attitude Toward Legal Pot Mellows in Parts of Latin America

Attitudes about marijuana seem to be changing and diversifying in Latin America. Throughout the 20th century its consumption was associated with criminal behavior. But over the last decade the drug’s image has improved in some countries. A new survey reveals that in some Latin countries more than 40 percent of the population is in favor of legalizing marijuana, although in ...

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