Scientific American Online
City planners and citizens alike frequently push for better public transportation. They argue that it can lessen traffic and reduce emissions from cars. Now there’s a new reason to be gung-ho about public transit--it helps make people skinnier. That’s according to a study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine . [John MacDonald et al., http://bit.ly/bdR7so ] [More]
Biologists in Canada are encouraged that critically endangered Vancouver Island marmots ( Marmota vancouverensis ) are once again learning how to be marmots--a tough task since the species's population had crashed so far that the animals almost lost the knowledge of how to exist as a society. [More]
State legislators have lined up a bill aimed at preventing the University of California, Berkeley, from executing a controversial program that asks new students to participate in genetic testing as part of a fall semester orientation program . But even if the bill becomes law, it will likely be too late to halt DNA collection because campus officials began mailing saliva sampling kits to about 5,500 incoming freshmen and transfer students this week and the bill cannot come up for a vote before August 2. Berkeley's fall semester begins on August 19, with welcome activities from August 23 to 27. Jasper Rine, the Berkeley biologist heading the genetic testing project, has scheduled an on-campus public lecture for September 13 to discuss the aggregated results of students' tests. [More]
Cathy Wolf read the report carefully. She had every right to be skeptical--in the 13 years since her amyotrophic lateral sclerosis diagnosis, she'd read dozens like it: Celebrex ; minocycline; vitamin D--you name it, it could slow the progress of ALS . That is until it was tested in a clinical trial. [More]
See What I’m Saying: The Extraordinary Powers of Our Five Senses by Lawrence D. Rosenblum. W. W. Norton, 2010[More]
Recommended: Bulletproof Feathers: How Science Uses Nature's Secrets to Design Cutting-Edge Technology
Bulletproof Feathers: How Science Uses Nature’s Secrets to Design Cutting-Edge Technology edited by Robert Allen. University of Chicago Press, 2010[More]
Something has me mildly riled up, a ridiculous little scandal involving the silliest accusations of sexism and secretions. So permit me today a slight diversion from the usual. If you’ve ever wondered why some feminists have earned themselves such a bad name, and are at all curious about how some intriguing new experimental research demonstrates that this negative view of feminism is more than just my personal opinion and in fact runs very deep in the modern psyche, then read on.[More]
Researchers have recently found a new reason for doctors to listen to the heart: certain heart rhythms may provide critical information about the health of our kidneys.
Daniel Brotman , professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, and colleagues analyzed data from 13,241 individuals enrolled in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. The researchers found that participants with a high resting heart rate and a low beat-to-beat heart rate variability were more likely to develop kidney malfunction.[More]
It is a phenomenon that has eluded description for centuries. Today's supercomputers are not up to the task of simulating it in detail. And the great physicist Richard Feynman reportedly called it "the most important unsolved problem of classical physics." [More]
By Leigh Coleman
WAVELAND, Mississippi (Reuters) - Coastal Mississippi is facing its biggest environmental crisis since Hurricane Katrina as oil from a leaking BP well in the Gulf of Mexico fouls its beaches and creeps onto inshore wetlands.[More]
A team of roboticists and computer scientists has created a truly three-dimensional display scheme , with multiple layers of water serving as the display surfaces. [More]
Antibody Building: Does Tapping the Body's Other Immune System Hold the Key to Fending Off HIV Infection?
Scientists at the National Institutes of Health have identified long-sought and elusive broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV in a pair of papers published in the July 9 issue of Science . These proteins produced by the innate immune system are crucial for creating a preventive vaccine , and could also have therapeutic uses developed in the coming years or decades. [More]
For many, the warm glow of fireflies in the night air is a sure sign that summer has arrived. After dark, these bioluminescent beetles are generally visible only when they emit flashes of yellow, green or pale red from their lower abdomen as part of their mating ritual. Some species of firefly have found their own key to successful coupling-- synchronous flashing patterns, a phenomenon that has attracted the attention of a team of researchers studying what pattern recognition tells us about how the brain is wired. [More]
Earthquakes are rattling the globe this year, but the number of atmospheric catastrophes, like floods , is multiplying faster as the world warms, according to the lead climate researcher at a global insurance corporation.
Haiti, Chile and China suffered jarring quakes in the first half of 2010, resulting in more than 225,000 deaths. Nearly all of those occurred in Haiti during a January shake, marking a global spree of tectonic rumblings that caused $38 billion in total losses, according to catastrophe data collected by insurance giant Munich Re .[More]
Stress is often linked to heart disease and other ailments, but a new study suggests that the strains of living in crowded and challenging physical environments might mitigate against cancer. Scientists found that simply placing mice afflicted with cancer in a more complex living environment resulted in a remarkable reduction in tumor growth. [More]
More carbon dioxide emissions lead to more CO2 dissolving in the oceans, which turns the water acidic. Those sour seas slow the growth of corals. And it turns out acidic seawater also makes clownfish and damselfish suicidally bold and reckless, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . [Philip Munday et al., http://bit.ly/blfQHy ] [More]
The underdog creams a top-ranked opponent--and the crowd goes wild. But such a surge in the face of the odds is even more difficult than it appears, according to a recent study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology . If status is on the line, people try harder to win when they are pitted against lower-ranked opponents.
Psychologists Nathan Pettit of Cornell University and Robert Lount of Ohio State University asked Cornell students to perform simple tasks in teams--for instance, writing down as many possible uses for a knife as they could come up with. The researchers falsely told the students that they were competing against another university that was ranked higher or lower than Cornell--but they added that the tasks at hand were not indicative of academic performance, so the rankings should not predict which team would do better. When the students thought they were facing a lower-ranked school, they did better on the task.[More]
Scientific American Editor in Chief Mariette DiChristina and staff editor Michael Moyer join podcast host Steve Mirsky (pictured) to talk about articles in the July issue, including: "The Dirty Truth about Plug-In Hybrids"; "How Babies Think"; and "Birds That Lived with Dinosaurs". [More]