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:
Fracturing a deep shale layer to release natural gas one time might pose little risk to drinking-water supplies, but the industrypractice of multiple “fracks” raises deeper concerns. Advanced tests, such as putting tracer chemicals in wells to track their spread into drinking water, are necessary in order to find out whether fracking is safe. See: Energy: The Truth About Fracking
• FOOD CRISIS
About one billion people now suffer from chronic hunger, and this number will rise as the global population heads towards nine billion people in 2050. In order to feed and sustain the planet, the world must double food production by 2050, while drastically reducing agriculture’s damage to the environment. See: Sustainability: Can We Feed the World and Sustain the Planet?
Over one third of the world’s population is living in areas at risk for the dangerous mosquito-borne disease dengue fever. Scientists have created genetically engineered male mosquitoes that promise to kill off native populations, which some of them are releasing on an experimental basis into the wild, sparking an international controversy over the ethics of such a drastic manipulation of nature. See Biotechnology: The Wipeout Gene
The two main U.S. political parties argue about whether tax cuts for the wealthy or the middle class are better to stimulate the economy. Research shows that both are wrong. See: Advances: Low Taxes, High Rhetoric
• RISK MODELING
In the wake of the 2008 economic collapse, financial firms have spent a lot of money improving their models of investment risk in the hope of avoiding another collapse. But experts in financial models say that changes in investment risk models may be both marginal and put the world in danger of another economic calamity. The only remedy is to take fewer risks, which means less profit. See: Computing: A Formula for Economic Calamity
Public officials are advocating drastic measures to fight malware that might impose on peoples’ privacy and civil liberties. Cybersecurity professionals don’t have a reliable way to find malware in cases where it might matter most. See: Forum: A Cybersecurity Nightmare