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Tag Archives: Scientific American

Plant Biologists Welcome Their Robot Overlords

As a postdoc, plant biologist Christopher Topp was not satisfied with the usual way of studying root development: growing plants on agar dishes and placing them on flatbed scanners to measure root lengths and angles. Instead, he would periodically stuff his car with plants in pots dripping with water and drive more than 600 kilometres from North Carolina to Georgia ...

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How Do You Estimate Crowd Size?

With the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States this past weekend and the dissenting marches that followed, there’s one type of science that is dominating the news cycle, and that’s crowd science, or the science behind estimating the number of people in a large crowd. Crowd scientists can have a range of expertise, including census work, remote ...

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Trump Administration Orders EPA to Remove Its Climate Change Web Page

Editors Note: An EPA official said on Wednesday that Trump administration officials were reviewing the content of the agency’s website but had no immediate plans to remove the content on climate change, news reports said. The Trump administration has instructed U.S. EPA to get rid of mentions of climate change from its website, Reuters reported late yesterday. Communications staff were ...

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Hive Mind: New Approach Could Improve on Crowd Wisdom

A wealth of data suggests that averaging the answers of many people often outperforms any individual, even expert, opinion. The wisdom of the crowd is far from infallible though—in cases where specialized knowledge is needed, even if the crowd contains experts, they are drowned out by majority ignorance. But a study published today in Nature, led by behavioral economist Drazen ...

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Trump's First Strong Words on Obamacare May Have Weak Impact

The Trump administration has significant power to undermine the workings of the Affordable Care Act. The bigger question is how much of that power it will use. President Donald Trump’s executive order  on Inauguration Day urging federal officials to “take all actions consistent with law to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens” of the federal health law did not provide ...

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Trump Administration Backtracks on Plan to Take Down EPA Climate Web Page

Officials from President Donald Trump’s administration are currently reviewing the content of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website, but have no immediate plans to remove the website content on climate change, The Hill quoted an EPA spokesman as saying on Wednesday. Sources at the EPA had told Reuters on Tuesday that administration officials asked the agency to take down the ...

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USDA Calls Scientist Gag Order a "Misunderstanding"

Hours after the news broke that the U.S. Department of Agriculture e-mailed its scientists ordering them not to speak to the press, and informing them that there would be an immediate halt on press releases, the USDA insisted it isn’t really suppressing its researchers’ communications with the public—because they can still publish peer-reviewed journal articles or give media interviews if ...

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The War on Facts is a War on Democracy

There is a new incumbent in the White House, a new Congress has been sworn in, and scientists around the country are nervous as hell. We’re nervous because there seems to be a seismic shift going on in Washington, D.C., and its relationship with facts, scientific reality, and objective truth has never been more strained. Already, in the opening days ...

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Umbrellas Plus Sunscreen Best Bet to Beat Burns

Last time you hit the beach —and yeah, probably seems like a distant memory in the currently chilly parts of the world—did you pack sunscreen ? A beach umbrella? Or both? Researchers put the two sun-protecting products to the test. First contender: a beach umbrella, which they evaluated with a spectrophotometer to see if UV rays passed through. They didn’t…good ...

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Polar Bear Cubs at High Risk from Toxic Industrial Chemicals, Despite Bans

0SHARESShare Tweet Polar bears are facing trouble inside and out. The animals are losing habitat as global warming melts sea ice. Now a study shows bears’ bodies hold toxic chemicals originally made in distant factories, substances that threaten adult bears’ health at a level 100 times greater than the acceptable threshold of risk for humans. For cubs, the risk is ...

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