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Stories by Philip Yam


The Forgotten JFK Proposal: A Joint U.S.-Soviet Moon Landing [Video]

We all learned that President John F. Kennedy launched the U.S. effort to land the first men on the moon. “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard,” he famously stated in his Rice University speech in 1962.But in a span of a year, Kennedy came to have second thoughts on the Apollo program as costs rose, budgets exploded and the scientific value of a moon mission came under question...

October 5, 2012 — Philip Yam
The Sciences

The Countdown, Episode 1: Earliest Spiral Galaxy, Earth as Art, the Pioneer Anomaly, a Rocket-Loving Gopher, 7 Minutes of Terror

Welcome to The Countdown, the Scientific American show that counts down the five coolest things happening now in space news.Episode 1: July 26, 2012 Story 5 Galaxies from the early universe usually look kind of lumpy or blobby, but scientists have spotted one with a spiral structure, making it look a lot like our own Milky Way galaxy.See Primordial Pinwheel: Astronomers Spot Oldest Prominent Spiral Galaxy Yet...

July 26, 2012 — Philip Yam

The 4th U.S. Case of Mad Cow Disease: Should You Be Concerned?

On April 24, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported the fourth confirmed case of mad cow disease in the U.S., the first since 2006. In an official statement, the department’s chief veterinary officer John Clifford said that the animal (a dairy cow from central California), “was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health.” That’s good news: it means that the USDA protection system—banning cattle that cannot walk on their own and testing them for disease—worked...

April 25, 2012 — Philip Yam

What Processed Food Looks Like during Digestion-of Course It's Not Pretty [Video]

If you ever wondered how your body handled all those packaged ramen noodles you ate during college, this video’s for you. Stefani Bardin, a TEDxManhattan fellow, wants to learn how digestion differs between food chock full of preservatives and food that can actually go bad in a day.To create this video, she and her collaborator, Braden Kuo of Harvard University, had two volunteers swallow a camera pill along with their meals (which included Gatorade and Gummi bears)...

February 17, 2012 — Philip Yam

Are Some Science Stories Inevitably Political?

RALEIGH, N.C.—Does writing about climate change or childhood vaccinations necessarily mean you've got an agenda? That's one of the questions tackled at last week's ScienceOnline 2012 meeting, a gathering of some 450 scientists, bloggers, scientist-bloggers, journalists and other communicators on the campus of North Carolina State University.In this particular session, "You Got Your Politics in My Science," attendees related their experiences and their approaches to dealing with perceived advocacy and reactive attacks...

January 24, 2012 — Philip Yam

Evolution and Miss USA: Science Role Models Explain Why Evolutionary Biology Is So Important [Video]

Remember the Miss USA pageant earlier this year, when contestants were asked if evolution should be taught in schools? Only two of the them fully supported Darwin; thankfully, the pageant winner was one of them.Recognizing that these young women often serve as role models for teens, and concerned about their lack of awareness of one of humanity's greatest insights, a group of scientists and science bloggers banded together to make this video, "Let's Talk about Evolution." In it, scientists describe why evolution is important, how it has driven advances in science and medicine and why it belongs in the classroom...

December 9, 2011 — Philip Yam
The Sciences

A Brief History of Stephen Hawking: A Video Tribute

In most cases, you need to make a huge donation to have a building named after you. The Perimeter Institute, however, made no such demands on its new Stephen Hawking Centre because, well, he's Stephen Hawking .The renowned physicist, of course, is known for pushing the frontier of science, mentoring and inspiring younger generations, communicating discoveries to the public, and appearing in many television shows...

November 28, 2011 — Philip Yam
The Sciences

Recipients of National Medal of Science, Technology Announced

Seven scientists, mostly in molecular biology and genetics, received the National Medal of Science, and five innovators were awarded the technology version, the White House announced this week.“Each of these extraordinary scientists, engineers, and inventors is guided by a passion for innovation, a fearlessness even as they explore the very frontiers of human knowledge, and a desire to make the world a better place,” President Barack Obama said in a prepared statement...

September 29, 2011 — Philip Yam
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