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Stories by Philip Yam

When Your Co-Author Is a Monstrous Ass

Who hasn't worked with a disagreeable person—and in the world of science publishing, authored a paper with one?  That wasn't exactly what went through the mind of William Hoover, a physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, when he included an Italian co-author to his 1987 paper...

April 1, 2015 — Philip Yam

American Pi: Why the Day Belongs to the U.S. (and Belize)

Pi may be a universal constant, but only two countries can natively celebrate Pi Day: the U.S. and Belize. That's because they are the only ones (if Wikipedia is correct) to shorthand their date format so that it can match the first few digits of pi (3.1415), or March 14, 2015...

March 12, 2015 — Philip Yam

A Plea for a Scientific Worldview from An Honest Liar, on Debunker James Randi

NEW YORK CITY—No matter how smart you are, or how educated you are, you can be deceived. That's the wisdom from—and what I gather is the driving force behind–James "The Amazing" Randi, the renowned illusionist, escape artist and debunker of psychics, spoon benders, faith healers and other charlatans willing to prey on others...

March 9, 2015 — Philip Yam

Media Watch: An Essential Tool in Diversity

Diversity brings excellence to science, the workplace and other human endeavors, as research is showing. And the media plays a crucial role in shaping how society views its members, second perhaps only to the entertainment industry in such influence...

October 3, 2014 — Philip Yam

Baby Sea Turtles Tracked with Hair-Extension Glue [Video]

Hatchling sea turtles face daunting odds in surviving to adulthood, and only a few find a way. Just where they go to find food and hide from predators has remained a mystery until earlier this year, when Kate Mansfield, a biologist at the University of Central Florida, came up with a novel way to stick [...]..

September 2, 2014 — Philip Yam
The Continuing Mystery of the Moon Illusion [Video]

The Continuing Mystery of the Moon Illusion [Video]

The harvest moon is almost upon us—specifically, September 19. It’s the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, and it has deep significance in our cultural histories.

September 16, 2013 — Philip Yam
Can You Trust Your Eyes? A Video of Illusions

Can You Trust Your Eyes? A Video of Illusions

If you’re a fan of optical illusions and perceptual tricks, check out this AsapSCIENCE video. As usual, producers Michael Moffitt and Gregory Brown do a great job distilling the essential ideas and presenting them in a fun, entertaining and informative way...

September 13, 2013 — Philip Yam

Spooky Action on Broadway: A Quantum Drama by Brian Greene

Fans of Brian Greene’s NOVA programs, such as The Fabric of the Cosmos, will no doubt enjoy what amounts to a 90-minute live episode. Kicking off the 2013 World Science Festival in New York City on Wednesday night, the show, “Spooky Action: The Drama of Quantum Mechanics" provides an entertaining and thought-provoking journey through the strange reality of quantum mechanics.Greene serves as host and narrator, and he gets help from stage actors who deliver famous (and infamous) lines from physics history, such as Albert Einstein saying that god doesn’t play dice with the universe, Niels Bohr responding that Einstein shouldn’t tell god what to do and Werner Heisenberg saying that Erwin Schrodinger’s wave equations were bullshit (at least that is how his German got translated to English onstage).With the help of a Princeton University colleague, Greene also conducts an onstage double-slit experiment, in which particles passing through two closely spaced slits form over time the classic light-dark interference pattern of waves...

May 30, 2013 — Philip Yam

How to Kick-Start Innovation with Free Data

Weather and GPS information stimulated the economy with new products and services. Todd Park, the U.S. chief technology officer, wants to repeat that success with the rest of the government’s data trove...

March 23, 2013 — Philip Yam

Obama to Announce $2-Billion Plan to Get U.S. Cars off Gasoline

This afternoon, President Barack Obama will ask Congress to direct our cars, trucks and buses to a realm that doesn’t include gas stations. During a visit to Argonne National Laboratory, he will call for $2-billion energy security trust fund dedicated to research to boost automobile efficiency, enhance battery technology and expand the use of biofuels, among other clean-energy efforts...

March 15, 2013 — Philip Yam
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Scientific American Health & Medicine

Scientific American Health & Medicine