Blog Profile / Scientific American: Observations

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Archived Since:November 13, 2008

Blog Post Archive

Archaeologists Take Wrong Turn, Find World's Oldest Stone Tools [Update]

SAN FRANCISCO–Archaeologists working in the Kenyan Rift Valley have discovered the oldest known stone tools in the world. Dated to around 3.3 million years ago, the implements are some 700,000... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.c...

Black Hole "Blazars" Reveal Hidden Side of the Universe [Video]

The bright lights from these hungry black holes revealed a subtle background field -- Read more on

MESSENGER’s Mercurial Swan Song and Other Interplanetary Smashups

On April 30, if all goes well, after running out of fuel to fight off orbital decay NASA’s long-running MESSENGER spacecraft will end its mission to Mercury by crashing into the planet’s... -- Read more on

Hubble's Repairman Reflects on the Telescope's Legacy

Twenty-five years ago, on April 24, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope soared into orbit. Since then, its great discoveries have been legion, and the story of how it became the most successful and... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican...

Can the U.S. Go All-Electric?

New homes wired with the latest smart gadgets cluster together around shared park spaces. Blue-black panels that transform sunshine into electricity grace a majority of roofs. -- Read more on

Supermassive Black Holes Make Merging Galaxies Green

Green as a color can mean animal, vegetable or mineral. It is the stuff of crocodiles, chlorophyll and copper patina, the essence of serpentine or of snakes in the grass, the hue of a glacial lake, a... -- Read more on

Against April Fools' in Science Journalism

My lowest point as a science journalist came before I even knew what a science journalist was. I was a young punk in an eighth-grade science class at Northwood Middle School in Greenville, South... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican...

When Your Co-Author Is a Monstrous Ass

Who hasn't worked with a disagreeable person—and in the world of science publishing, authored a paper with one? That wasn't exactly what went through the mind of William Hoover, a... -- Read more on

What Are Black Hole Firewalls? [Video]

Black holes break theories. These sites of extremely large masses in extremely small spaces invoke both of the behemoths of modern physics—general relativity (which rules over large masses) and... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican....

After a Martian Marathon, NASA's Opportunity Rover Faces Uncertain Future

It's been a long time coming, but this week NASA's Mars Opportunity rover completed the first-ever Martian marathon. After landing on the Red Planet in January 2004 on a mission originally planned to... -- Read more on

The Science of TED 2015

What I love about the annual TED gathering in Vancouver is the way science coexists along with art, social justice, popular song and the rest of TED's eclectic mix. -- Read more on

Looking for Life In Our Soggy Solar System

Scientists are finding liquid water, the cornerstone for life as we know it, in surprising nooks and crannies of the solar system. Following Wednesday's news that there seem to be hydrothermal vents... -- Read more on

Neandertals Turned Eagle Talons into Jewelry 130,000 Years Ago

As longtime readers may have noticed, I have an abiding interest in Neandertals. To help me keep up with the latest scientific insights into these mysterious relatives of ours, I have a Google alert... -- Read more on

American Pi: Why the Day Belongs to the U.S. (and Belize)

Pi may be a universal constant, but only two countries can natively celebrate Pi Day: the U.S. and Belize. That's because they are the only ones (if Wikipedia is correct) to shorthand their date... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican...

A Plea for a Scientific Worldview from An Honest Liar, on Debunker James Randi

NEW YORK CITY—No matter how smart you are, or how educated you are, you can be deceived. That's the wisdom from—and what I gather is the driving force behind–James "The Amazing"... -- Read more on

How Quickly Would Measles Spread if Too Few People Were Vaccinated?

This simulation models what 80 percent vaccination rates of school-age children would look like vs. 95 percent -- Read more on

Dawn Spacecraft Arrives at Ceres, Becomes First to Orbit a Dwarf Planet

Shortly after 7:30 am Eastern time this morning, a seven-year space voyage at last reached its final destination: NASA's Dawn mission entered orbit around Ceres, a small, icy world orbiting the sun... -- Read more on

What Chappie Says—and Doesn't Say—about Artificial Intelligence [Video]

I'm not a scold about scientific accuracy in film. As long as a movie is not built on a fundamentally stupid premise (“Lucy,” the Scarlet Johansson vehicle predicated on the false notion... -- Read more on

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