FROM THE EDITOR
New Year's Resolutions
The turn of the calendar always provides a good opportunity for reflection, assessment, and change. American Scientist had a banner year in 2013, its 101st year of publication. Our pages featured articles from across all areas of science, from avian migration to dark energy. Our authors also provided an in-depth discussion of some controversial topics, providing a deeply informed perspective on the use of herbal supplements in athletics, how to judge what is “natural” when restoring disturbed environments, and the role of self-control in determining an individual’s lifelong success. And we are spreading our message into the new publishing media: Our March–April 2013 article on mathematical knitting was highly popular on Facebook and across the Web.
At American Scientist we always strive to intrigue the eye as well as the brain. This past year we showcased science of exceptional beauty, including images of black holes and my personal favorite, photographs of delicate ice flowers, one of which is shown at right. (If you missed any of these articles or want to refresh your memory, subscribers have full access to issues back to 1998 on our website, www.americanscientist.org, and full digital editions from the past year can be accessed through the email alerts that digital subscribers receive for a new issue.) We are gratified to have won several prestigious awards for design.
But we do not believe in stasis. American Scientist’s look has steadily evolved over its history, and to stay current we are evolving again. In the past few issues, some design changes were implemented to increase the readability and visual appeal of the magazine. In this issue, we are rolling out additional improvements and updates. Our news section is renamed Spotlight in order to better address its purpose—highlighting interesting science papers and research trends—and will include a wider variety of reporting. The Macroscope and Marginalia columns are being replaced by a new column, Perspective, which focuses more clearly on the author’s expert insights on a subject. For fans of our regular Marginalia writers, rest assured that they will continue to appear in American Scientist’s pages in an even more expansive format than before.
What has not changed at American Scientist is our commitment to exploring thoughtfully the most important scientific topics—ones important not only to researchers but to all of Earth’s inhabitants. On pages 42–51, Gautam Dantas and Morten Sommer discuss the latest studies of the resistome—the bacterial genes involved in developing antibiotic resistance—and how such work could help combat infectious disease. On pages 60–63, Ashanti Johnson and Natasha White draw attention to a huge environmental problem that has received relatively little attention: the increasing acidification of the world’s ocean. And on pages 26–33, David Finkleman turns our attention upward, to the complex issue of space debris and the risk it poses to vital satellites in Earth’s orbit.
We hope that you find our new issue, and our new improvements, informative and thought provoking as you make your own resolutions for 2014. As always, we value your feedback, and look forward to taking the amazing journey of scientific discovery with you. —Fenella Saunders