Category Archives: Scientific American

App’d to Fail: Mobile Health Treatments Fail First Full Checkup

Health care via mobile technology is still in its infancy. Of 75 trials in which patients used mobile tech, such as text messaging and downloadable apps, to manage a disease or adopt healthier behaviors, only three showed reliable signs of success, according to a systematic survey. In an accompanying survey of medical personnel who used smart phones and other devices, to help deliver care, the same team found more success: 11 of 42 trials had positive, reliable results. Continue reading

Blue Bacteria in Bloom

On their own, cyanobacteria are tiny photosynthetic organisms floating in the sea. But when they join forces, linking together into chains and then mats by the millions, they can become a threat. Before long, the bacteria change the color of the sea’s surface and even soften the wind-tossed chop. One study of cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, although they are not algae, predicted that rising sea temperatures could help the already widespread creatures expand their territory by more than 10 percent. Now researchers are asking whether mats of cyanobacteria might themselves affect local sea temperatures, thus creating a powerful feedback loop. Continue reading

Seismic “Noise”–Oil Prospecting Data Could Decipher Ocean Mixing

Three decades ago researchers discovered what are essentially enormous saltwater lakes in the Atlantic Ocean. These “lakes,” called meddies, are gently spinning lenses of water up to 100 kilometers across and one kilometer thick. They float a few hundred meters below the surface of the ocean. Such large, warm bodies, which turned out to come from the Mediterranean Sea, should have an impact on heat exchange in the ocean—and on the planet’s climate. But efforts to study meddies—conventionally by dropping probes that directly measure the ocean’s temperature, salinity and velocity—have proved too costly, infrequent and spread out to reveal how the meddies dissipate their heat. Continue reading