In Scientific American's first issue, dated August 28, 1845, the editors marveled at what we now know to be the rise of telecommunications. Samuel Morse's telegraph, “this wonder of the age,” was sending messages between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and they declared that “it appears likely to come into general use through the length and breadth of our land.”
Of course, it was impossible to fully appreciate then how wired networks would one day connect so many facets of the world. Now, however, we have a better vantage point. The cover story, “Extra Sensory Perception,” by Gershon Dublon and Joseph A. Paradiso, outlines how ubiquitous sensors will expand our real-time knowledge of the world. Today such sensors largely exist in disconnected “silos,” working only on specific applications. But if they were networked, such configurations would have profound implications for our current expectations surrounding privacy and physical presence.
Our most intimate networks are, of course, internal. In their feature article, “Add Neurons, Subtract Anxiety,” Mazen A. Kheirbek and René Hen describe research about the role of new brain neurons in existing neural arrays. The work could lead to novel approaches to treating anxiety disorders.
While I'm talking about cooperative efforts, let me cite others in this issue, which were produced with our sister publication, the scientific journal Nature. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.)
First, in “Body Works,” we offer the fourth annual selection of excerpts by Nobel Prize–winning authors of past Scientific American articles, timed for the yearly Lindau meeting of Nobel laureates and young scientists in Germany; additional stories from both publications appear online. More than 150 Nobelists have written, collectively, 245 articles for the magazine, often long before they received that recognition.
In the realm of applied sciences, “Bottoms Up,” by Olive Heffernan, details how treated sewage could provide an environmentally sound way to get crystal-clear refreshment from your tap. Online, a co-branded In-Depth Report at ScientificAmerican.com, offers more articles about water and the sustainability of this precious resource from both our editorial teams.
Last, we offer a 26-page special report: a Nature Outlook surveying advances in cancer. In it, you will find articles on tailoring therapies for personalized treatments, the use of nanoparticles for better drug delivery and the challenge of solving three fundamental mysteries that still exist about cancer.
As always, we welcome comments from you, our readers—and our most essential network contacts.