Every month, Scientific American—the longest-running magazine in the U.S. and an authoritative voice in science, technology and innovation—provides insight into scientific topics that affect our daily lives and capture our imagination, establishing the vital bridge between science and public policy.

>> Key information from this month’s issue:

• Net Neutrality
In December 2010, the FCC moved to prohibit unreasonable filtering of Internet content, a move that many viewed as supportingthe principles of net neutrality. But the FCC failed to define what “unreasonable” treatment might be. To fix this vague language, the FCC must clarify that the only kind of unreasonable discrimination is that against particular applications. Internet providers can structure their offerings in any way they see fit, but slowing or blocking services on an application-by-application basis would give them the power to choose the winners and losers of the information age. See Science Agenda: Keep the Internet Fair

• Networks
Fear of cyberattacks should not lead us to destroy what makes the Internet special, such as free and open Wi-Fi access points and other forms of shared connections; instead we need better options for securing the Internet. See Forum: Freedom and Anonymity

• Medicine
As health care reform rolls out over the next five years and millions of newly insured seek treatment, the shortage of doctors will worsen. Nurses and physician assistants will fill in the gap–leading to a more efficient division of labor, enabling clinics to see a greater volume of patients. See Advances: A Little Help from Their Friends

• Informed Consent
Technology can help individuals make better decisions about whether to undergo an invasive medical procedure, by using interactive computer programs that automatically check for comprehension and promote discussion between doctors and patients. Efforts to change the consent process can lead to better results, a review of 44 studies finds. See The Science of Health: Uninformed Consent

• Stem Cells
Stem cells made from adult tissues can be used to investigate how different drugs could help alleviate certain diseases. For example, this approach may hasten drug development for debilitating conditions such as the neurodegenerative disease ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). See Medicine: Diseases in a Dish

• Climate Change
By mapping equatorial rainfall since A.D. 800, scientists are finding out how weather in the tropics may change through 2100. Decreases in rainfall in recent years could mean multiyear drought conditions in the southwestern U.S. and drying out of farmland for millions of people in Ecuador, Colombia and elsewhere. See Climate Change: A Shifting Band of Rain