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Stories by Katherine Harmon

Eyewitness Testimony Loses Legal Ground in State Supreme Court

As science has long demonstrated, eyewitness accounts are frequently riddled with errors. Human memory in general is far from perfect—working less like a video camera than an ever-evolving collage, studies have shown.But in courtrooms across the country eyewitness testimony of alleged crimes have frequently been enough to convince juries to send defendants to jail—even without more reliable forms of evidence.Now, the courts seem to be finally catching up with the science...

August 25, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

Jurassic Mammal Moves Back Marsupial Divergence

A newly described pointy-nosed, rat-like animal did not just crawl out of some unsuspecting city's sewers. Rather, this now-extinct species spent its time scampering among prehistoric trees some 160 million years ago during China's Jurassic period...

August 24, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

Top 10 Biggest East Coast Quakes on Record

Image courtesy of iStockphoto/kickers A magnitude 5.8 earthquake that shook buildings and sent people in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and surrounding areas streaming outside into the summer weather on August 23 might seem like small shakes for residents of more quake-prone regions of the nation...

August 23, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

Butterfly Uses "Supergene" to Mimic Other Toxic Species [Video]

Many species have developed deceptive appearances to fool would-be predators by taking on the look of other unpalatable species. This evolutionary strategy provides an innovative form of extra protection for both groups, but researchers have wondered just how, genetically, crafty mimics pull off such a trick.A new study, published online August 14 in Nature ( Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group), shows how one impressive butterfly, the numata longwing ( Heliconius numata ), is able to switch the patterns on its wings to match those found on local Melinaea butterflies, which taste bad to potential bird predators...

August 17, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

Breastfeeding Reduces Risk of Hard-to-Treat Breast Cancer among African-American Women

Deaths from breast cancer have been dropping in the U.S. since the 1990s. However, African-American women still have a 40 percent higher risk of dying from the disease compared to white women, according to an American Cancer Society report.Part of the reason for the unsettling statistic has been that these women are at a higher risk of getting the especially tough-to-treat estrogen receptor- and progesterone receptor-negative (ER-/PR-) version of the disease, which make up about a quarter of the 207,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in U.S...

August 16, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

4 Things Most People Get Wrong About Memory

Human memory has been shown again and again to be far from perfect. We overlook big things, forget details, conflate events. One famous experiment even demonstrated that many people asked to watch a video of people playing basketball failed to notice a person wearing a gorilla suit walk right through the middle of the scene.So why does eyewitness testimony continue to hold water in courtrooms?...

August 4, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

Four Things Most People Get Wrong about Memory

Human memory has been shown again and again to be far from perfect. We overlook big things, forget details, conflate events. One famous experiment even demonstrated that many people asked to watch a video of people playing basketball failed to notice a person wearing a gorilla suit walk right through the middle of the scene.So why does eyewitness testimony continue to hold water in courtrooms?...

August 4, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

Chew on This: More Mastication Cuts Calorie Intake by 12 Percent

About a century ago, a new craze gripped the country's health conscious: mastication. Chewing each bite of food precisely 32 times would help people control how much food they consumed—turning them from gluttons to epicureans—according to the early 20th-century dietician Horace Fletcher...

August 3, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

Does Rehab Work as a Treatment for Alcoholism and Other Addictions?

Before her death, Amy Winehouse had cycled in and out of rehab. Many celebrities have done the same, with some having more success than others at staying on the wagon. A neuroscientist explains why traditional therapy often seems to fall short of expectations...

July 25, 2011 — Katherine Harmon

FDA Starts to Tackle Regulation of Health and Medical Apps

On-the-go doctors can already see your latest MRI or CT scan via a smart phone or tablet. But would you want them to be able to download an app that essentially turns an iPad into an EKG to determine if you are having a heart attack?...

July 22, 2011 — Katherine Harmon
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