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An Inside View: Tales Told by a Doctor

Katie-Leigh Corder, Sandra J. Ackerman

TerrenceHoltBookClick to Enlarge ImageTerrence Holt, PhD , is a research associate professor in the Department of Social Medicine and a clinical assistant professor of geriatric medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). Alongside his medical background, he is also an adjunct assistant professor of English and comparative literature also at UNC, where he teaches courses on medicine and society and on the writing of autobiographical narrative.

Sandra J. Ackerman, senior editor at American Scientist interviewed Dr. Holt about his most recent book, Internal Medicine, and how he sees the intersection of medicine and narrative.

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Moving Science Towards Open Access

Katie-Leigh Corder, Katie L. Burke

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Open-access research papers continue to be a debate in the world of scientific publishing. Public Library of Science (PLOS) forged the pathway for the open-access publishers and continues to be regarded as a role model for the movement's successes and challenges.

Biologist Michael Eisen, who is also one of the founders of PLOS, along with his postdoc mentor and cofounder Pat Brown, was motivated to pursue open-access publishing after discovering that the scientific community did not own their own literature.

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What's Not to Like About Butterflies?

Katie L. Burke

2015-05SpotlightBurkeF1.jpgClick to Enlarge Image A snippet of conversation as associate editor Katie L. Burke interviews Erik Aschehoug about what he finds, and what others may find, compelling about his work to conserve the rare, cryptic Saint Francis satyr butterfly. Photo at right by Daisy Aschehoug.

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And Then They Were Gone: Egypt’s Disappearing Wildlife

Katie-Leigh Corder, Tom Dunne, Katie L. Burke

YeakelAnimationUsing fossils and depictions in ancient art, Justin Yeakel and his colleagues reconstructed the food web of larger-bodies mammals over the past 11,000 years. As the climate became more arid and human population densities increased, the mammalian food web of Egypt lost its redundancy as more animals became locally extinct. Most notably, midsized herbivores—such as gazelles and antelope that link to the most carnivores—declined.

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Expanding with the Cosmos

Katie-Leigh Corder, Fenella Saunders, Corey S. Powell

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Using the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ATC), a 6.5-meter microwave collector in Chile, cosmologists are piecing together the early history of the known universe. In an exclusive American Scientist interview, Arthur Kosowsky—a member of the ATC team and a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh—discusses how he is using ATC to reach back in time billions of years to search for gravitational waves that could verify inflation and reveal unprecedented details about how the cosmos was born.

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Exploring Beneath a Painting's Surface

Katie-Leigh Corder, Katie L. Burke

FischerImage2Click to Enlarge ImageUsing laser technology called nonlinear pump-probe microscopy, Fischer and his team can study the pigments and layers to help determine, for example, the age of historic paintings. Such analysis reveals the artist’s techniques and further information about the artwork. By crossing the threshold into the art world, Fischer and his team can expand their research into new fields and assist a broader section of society in unique and scientific ways.

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The Many Personalities of Animals

Katie-Leigh Corder, Fenella Saunders


Have you ever wondered whether animals have personalities the way people do? Dr. Andy Sih, a professor of ecology at the University of California, Davis, researches animal personalities and shows that traits, such as an individual’s level of aggressiveness versus passivity, can impact an individual’s survival as well as the well-being of its surrounding group. Dr. Sih's work on insects even has implications for understanding how human behaviors are controlled by personality.

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The Promise and Peril of Drones

Katie-Leigh Corder, Katie L. Burke


The automation of tasks at work and at home is just around the corner, including driving cars, piloting planes, delivering packages, and transporting weapons. Unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, are rapidly evolving to meet both society’s and the military’s needs in automation and better efficiency.

Dr. Missy Cummings, an associate professor at Duke University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and the director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab, is at the forefront of drone technologies. During her time as one of the first female fighter pilots in the US Navy, Cummings observed that computers could take off and land a plane more precisely than humans. Because of this breakthrough and her fascination with this growing technology, she made a career change and began human–drone interaction research.

Photo from Duke University's Human and Autonomy Lab:

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VIDEO: How Hair Ice Grows

In 2013, American Scientist featured an article on odd ice formations on plant stems, including these curling ribbons of ice. One of the types of ice discussed in the article was hair ice—long, thin strands of ice that grow under quite specific conditions. The only problem is that a new study shows the theory put forth at the time—that gas pressure pushes the water out—isn’t correct... (click the link above to read more).

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