scientificamerican.com
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Scientific American (informally abbreviated SciAm or sometimes SA) is an American popular science magazine. Many famous scientists, including Albert Einstein, have contributed articles to it. It is the oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the United States (though it only became monthly in 1921). Scientific American was founded by inventor and publisher Rufus M. Porter in 1845 as a four-page weekly newspaper. Throughout its early years, much emphasis was placed on reports of what was going on at the U.S. Patent Office.Source
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Earth Has Lost 28 Trillion Tons of Ice since the Mid-1990s

Earth Has Lost 28 Trillion Tons of Ice since the Mid-1990s

The world’s frozen places are shrinking—and they’re disappearing at faster rates as time goes by.In the 1990s, the world was losing around 800 billion metric tons of ice each year. Today, that number has risen to around 1.2 trillion tons.Altogether, the planet lost a whopping 28 trillion tons of ice between 1994 and 2017.That’s according to a new study, published today in the journal The Cryosphere, calculating all the ice lost around the globe over the last few decades.It’s the first to provide a truly global analysis of the planet’s vanishing ice, the authors say. It accounts for both the...

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Chelsea Harvey
3h ago
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Some Ecological Damage from Trump’s Rushed Border Wall Could Be Repaired

Some Ecological Damage from Trump’s Rushed Border Wall Could Be Repaired

The jagged granite peaks of Arizona’s Tinajas Altas Mountains, reminiscent of the Iron Throne in the television series Game of Thrones, are almost insurmountable to humans. But bighorn sheep have long climbed through them with ease—until their path was blocked by a 30-foot-high steel fence built atop a blasted-out right-of-way on the U.S.-Mexico border last spring.Just to the east, federal contractors have built more border fencing through the habitat of the endangered Sonoran pronghorn in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. And in South Texas, sections of wall continued to rise in...

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April Reese
3h ago
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Forever Chemicals Are Widespread in U.S. Drinking Water

Forever Chemicals Are Widespread in U.S. Drinking Water

Many Americans fill up a glass of water from their faucet without worrying whether it might be dangerous. But the crisis of lead-tainted water in Flint, Mich., showed that safe, potable tap water is not a given in this country. Now a study from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit advocacy organization, reveals a widespread problem: the drinking water of a majority of Americans likely These compounds may take hundreds, or even thousands, of years to break down in the environment. They can also persist in the human body, potentially causing health problems.A handful of states...

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Annie Sneed
19h ago
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Eric Lander Is Not the Ideal Choice for Presidential Science Adviser

Eric Lander Is Not the Ideal Choice for Presidential Science Adviser

The late Ruth Bader Ginsberg told us, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” Yet high-level decision-makers in the U.S. federal government have continued to be overwhelmingly white and male, especially when it comes to science leadership positions. From a historic lack of federal leadership on environmental justice to health disparities born of systemic racism and economic inequality, science policy reflects and amplifies inequities within science. The Biden administration has a huge opportunity to change the face of scientific decision-making, particularly amidst a...

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500 Women Scientists
3d ago
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December’s Total Solar Eclipse as Seen from Space

December’s Total Solar Eclipse as Seen from Space

On December 14, 2020, a camera onboard a satellite recorded something that looked like a brown blob streaking across South America. The video was so unexpected it might have been mistaken for a technological glitch. Individuals on the ground witnessed something more striking: a total solar eclipse, or a daytime blackout triggered by the moon blocking the sun and throwing its shadow on Earth.Though total solar eclipses happen relatively frequently——seeing them is lucky. The strange overlap occurs during parts of the moon’s orbit when it is close enough to seem proportional to the sun from...

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Leslie Nemo
3d ago
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Twitter Bots Are a Major Source of Climate Disinformation

Twitter Bots Are a Major Source of Climate Disinformation

Twitter accounts run by machines are a major source of climate change disinformation that might drain support from policies to address rising temperatures.In the weeks surrounding former President Trump’s announcement about withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, accounts suspected of being bots accounted for roughly a quarter of all tweets about climate change, according to new research.“If we are to effectively address the existential crisis of climate change, bot presence in the online discourse is a reality that scientists, social movements and those concerned about democracy have to...

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Corbin Hiar
3d ago
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Now Is the Time to Reestablish Reality

Now Is the Time to Reestablish Reality

he safeguards of democracy—including the exhausting, underappreciated work of so many people who uphold them—have stopped the U.S. from descending into authoritarianism, but the facts of our division remain bleak. Institutional distrust has been rising for decades. A Monmouth University survey found that 77 percent of 2020 Donald Trump voters believe that Joe Biden won the presidency through fraud. Trust in Congress is in the basement. Until recently, a majority of Americans at least trusted one another. But in a , 59 percent of Americans reported little or no confidence in the wisdom of...

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Jen Schwartz
4d ago
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Biden’s First Climate Actions Include Rejoining Paris Agreement

Biden’s First Climate Actions Include Rejoining Paris Agreement

Joe Biden will spend his first hours as president trying to obliterate much of the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda, restore public land protections and reestablish the United States as a global leader on climate change policy.Biden will sit in the Oval Office later today and sign a sweeping executive order to rejoin the Paris Agreement and undo President Trump’s rollback of greenhouse gas policies, said Gina McCarthy, Biden’s national climate adviser.“We know rejoining [Paris] won’t be enough, but along with strong domestic action, which this executive order kicks off, it is...

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Scott Waldman
5d ago
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Spider Legs Build Webs without the Brain’s Help

Spider Legs Build Webs without the Brain’s Help

Spider legs seem to have minds of their own. According to findings published , each leg functions as a semi-independent “computer,” with sensors that read the immediate environment and trigger movements accordingly. This autonomy helps the arachnids quickly spin perfect webs with minimal brain use. The study authors simulated surprisingly simple rules to govern this complex behavior—which could eventually be applied to robotics.“The novelty of this paper is really to lay out an interesting and potentially very important paradigm to study and test new ideas about the next generation of...

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Rachel Nuwer
Jan 16
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Telescopes on Far Side of the Moon Could Illuminate the Cosmic Dark Ages

Telescopes on Far Side of the Moon Could Illuminate the Cosmic Dark Ages

The far side of the moon is poised to become our newest and best window on the hidden history of the cosmos. Over the course of the next decade, astronomers are planning to perform unprecedented observations of the early universe from that unique lunar perch using radio telescopes deployed on a new generation of orbiters and robotic rovers.These instruments will study the universe’s initial half-billion years—the first few hundred million or so of which make up the so-called cosmic “dark ages,” when stars and galaxies had yet to form. Bereft of starlight, this era is invisible to optical...

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Anil Ananthaswamy
Jan 16
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Biden Climate Team Says It Underestimated Trump’s Damage

Biden Climate Team Says It Underestimated Trump’s Damage

President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team says the Trump administration has done more damage than anticipated to the government’s ability to address climate change.Potentially lowering expectations for the incoming president’s early climate efforts, Biden officials say their agency review teams have found deeper budget cuts, wider staff losses and more systematic elimination of climate programs and research than they realized.Some climate moves can’t happen until Biden officials remedy those deficiencies, a senior transition official said, because “those have been very carefully directed...

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Adam Aton
Jan 14
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Dire Wolves Were Not Really Wolves, New Genetic Clues Reveal

Dire Wolves Were Not Really Wolves, New Genetic Clues Reveal

Dire wolves are iconic beasts. Thousands of these extinct Pleistocene carnivores have been recovered from the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. And the massive canids have even received some time in the spotlight thanks to the television series Game of Thrones. But a new study of dire wolf genetics has startled paleontologists: it found that these animals were not wolves at all, but rather the last of a dog lineage that evolved in North America.Ever since they were first described in the 1850s, dire wolves have captured modern humans’ imagination. Their remains have been found throughout...

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Riley Black
Jan 14
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New Studies Link Cell Phone Radiation with Cancer

New Studies Link Cell Phone Radiation with Cancer

Does cell phone radiation cause cancer? New studies show a correlation in lab rats, but the evidence may not resolve ongoing debates over causality or whether any effects arise in people.The ionizing radiation given off by sources such as x-ray machines and the sun boosts cancer risk by shredding molecules in the body. But the non-ionizing radio-frequency (RF) radiation that cell phones and other wireless devices emit has just one known biological effect: an ability to heat tissue by exciting its molecules.Still, evidence advanced by the studies shows prolonged exposure to even very low...

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Charles Schmidt
Jan 14
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The ‘Shared Psychosis’ of Donald Trump and His Loyalists

The ‘Shared Psychosis’ of Donald Trump and His Loyalists

The violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Building last week, incited by President Donald Trump, serves as the grimmest moment in one of the darkest chapters in the nation’s history. Yet the rioters’ actions—and Trump’s own role in, and response to, them—come as little surprise to many, particularly those who have been studying the president’s mental fitness and the psychology of his most ardent followers since he took office.One such person is Bandy X. Lee, a forensic psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine for the past 17 years and president of the World Mental Health Coalition....

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Tanya Lewis
Jan 12
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Extremely Boring Aliens

Extremely Boring Aliens

The recently leaked news about an intriguing, potentially extraterrestrial radio signal detected as part of the project may not turn out to be “it”—the unequivocal sign of a technological species out there in our galaxy—but still offers a great opportunity for some reflection on the nature of cosmic life.Some details of this curious narrowband hum at a frequency of around 982.002 MHz, and its apparent coincidence with the direction of Proxima Centauri, have reported, and we’ll have to wait a little while longer for the full technical analysis to be presented. In the absence of any further...

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Caleb A. Scharf
Jan 10
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Lack of Sleep Could Be a Problem for AIs

Lack of Sleep Could Be a Problem for AIs

As researchers build networks that increasingly resemble living nervous systems, it should probably come as little surprise that they seem to need sleep as much as we do. Similarly, we expect that sophisticated AI systems will help us to more fully understand sleep and other characteristics in biological systems. The napping toaster of the future may provide novel insights into the workings of our brains—in addition to a warm and crispy breakfast food.Discover world-changing science. Explore our digital archive back to 1845, including articles by more than 150 Nobel Prize winners.You have...

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Garrett Kenyon
Jan 10
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California Is Closing the Door to Gas in New Homes

California Is Closing the Door to Gas in New Homes

California's top energy bosses soon will decide when to snuff out natural gas flames in new homes.The seismic move toward omitting some gas appliances comes as the California Energy Commission retools state building codes for energy-efficient homes. It's an expansion of the state's first-in-the-nation mandates requiring solar panels on all new homes starting last year.The agency now plans to tighten rules on natural gas for home heating and hot water, a code update that would take effect in 2023.Environmental groups want a complete ban on natural gas in new homes, but the state commission...

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Anne C. Mulkern
Jan 7
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The Cosmic Dawn of Technology

The Cosmic Dawn of Technology

We are late bloomers, speaking. The formed as early as a tenth of a billion years after the big bang. The sun formed 9.1 billion years later, merely years ago, when the universe already matured to two thirds of its current age. The late birth of the sun marked the tail end of the .At present, the Earth-sun system is a common occurrence. Based on the compiled from the data, we know that on the order of host an Earth-size planet in their habitable zone. These planets could accommodate ponds of liquid water on their surface and exhibit the chemistry of life. If this was also true near stars...

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Avi Loeb
Jan 3
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Chernobyl ‘Exclusion Zone’ Radiation Doses Reanalyzed

Chernobyl ‘Exclusion Zone’ Radiation Doses Reanalyzed

More than 30 years after the Chernobyl nuclear plant's meltdown, an 18-mile radius around the site remains almost entirely devoid of human activity—. But scientists disagree over lingering radiation's effects on animal populations in this region, called the Exclusion Zone. A new analysis, based on estimating the actual doses animals receive in various parts of the zone, supports the hypothesis that areas with the most radiation have the fewest mammals.“The effects we saw are consistent with conventional wisdom about radiation,” says University of South Carolina biologist Timothy Mousseau,...

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Rachel Nuwer
Dec 31
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Trump Signs Directive to Bolster Nuclear Power in Space Exploration

Trump Signs Directive to Bolster Nuclear Power in Space Exploration

Nuclear power will be a big part of the United States’ space exploration efforts going forward, a new policy document affirms. on Wednesday (Dec. 16) issued Space Policy Directive-6 (SPD-6), which lays out a national strategy for the responsible and effective use of space nuclear power and propulsion (SNPP) systems.“Space nuclear power and propulsion is a fundamentally enabling technology for American deep-space missions to Mars and beyond,” Scott Pace, deputy assistant to the president and executive secretary of the , said in an emailed statement Wednesday. “The United States intends to...

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Mike Wall
Dec 30
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The Ethical Challenges of Connecting Our Brains to Computers

The Ethical Challenges of Connecting Our Brains to Computers

Discover world-changing science. Explore our digital archive back to 1845, including articles by more than 150 Nobel Prize winners.You have free article left.Support our award-winning coverage of advances in science & technology.Already a subscriber? Subscribers get more award-winning coverage of advances in science & technology.

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Dario Gil
Dec 27
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Why Social Media Makes Us More Polarized and How to Fix It

Why Social Media Makes Us More Polarized and How to Fix It

Every time I log onto Facebook, I brace myself. My newsfeed—like everyone else’s I know—is filled with friends, relatives and acquaintances arguing about COVID-19, masks and Trump. Facebook has become a battleground among partisan “echo chambers.” But what is it about social media that makes people so polarized?To find out, my colleagues and I ran a social media in which we divided Democrats and Republicans into “echo chambers,” or small groups whose members affiliate with just one political party. Next, we picked the most polarizing issues we could think of: immigration, gun control and...

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Damon Centola
Dec 25
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Do We Live in a Simulation? Chances Are about 50–50

Do We Live in a Simulation? Chances Are about 50–50

It is not often that a comedian gives an astrophysicist goose bumps when discussing the laws of physics. But comic Chuck Nice managed to do just that in a recent episode of the podcast StarTalk. The show’s host Neil deGrasse Tyson had just explained the simulation argument—the idea that we could be virtual beings living in a computer simulation. If so, the simulation would most likely create perceptions of reality on demand rather than simulate all of reality all the time—much like a video game optimized to render only the parts of a scene visible to a player. “Maybe that’s why we can’t...

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Anil Ananthaswamy
Dec 23
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Let's Search for Alien Probes, Not Just Alien Signals

Let's Search for Alien Probes, Not Just Alien Signals

On blind dates, we search for others that resemble us, at least at some level. This is true in our personal life but even more so on the galactic dating scene, where we have been seeking a companion civilization for a while without success. While developing our own radio and laser communication over the past seven decades, the (SETI) focused on or signals from outer space—two kinds of electromagnetic “messenger” that astronomers use to study the cosmos.Over the same period, we have been also launching probes, like , and the spacecraft, towards interstellar space. These could eventually...

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Avi Loeb
Dec 23
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The White House—Scene of COVID Outbreaks Under Trump—Will Get A Deep Clean For President-elect Biden

The White House—Scene of COVID Outbreaks Under Trump—Will Get A Deep Clean For President-elect Biden

It was a down-in-the-mud presidential campaign, but the dirtiest part comes on Inauguration Day.As Joe Biden lifts his right hand to take the oath of office at noon on Jan. 20 at the Capitol, a team of specially trained cleaners will be lifting their hands to disinfect the White House.The executive mansion will get a deep clean after two COVID-19 outbreaks this fall led to President Donald Trump and members of his staff and family becoming infected.The departure of one president and the arrival of another is always a fast but highly synchronized behind-the-scenes ballet by White House staff...

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Phil Galewitz
Dec 21
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