Technology News, Opinion and Analysis - Newsweek Tech

Tech & Science

More Articles

  • Up Close & Edible: Apple Cider Vinegar

    Word on the yoga mats is that a few daily tablespoons of apple cider vinegar could be the miracle potion for melting away fat, buoying the immune system, restoring arthritic joints and even curing gout—among a host of other ailments. Much of the hype comes from old folk tales and suave marketers. Dieticians and scientists have a different story: vinegar's most magical, confirmed benefit may just be as a tasty, low-cal condiment.Myths about apple cider vinegar date back to the 17th century. In 1820, poet Lord Byron—who reputedly suffered from anorexia nervosa and bulimia—made popular the vinegar and water diet, a regimen the American Dietetic Association (ADA) today includes on its list of fad diets. In the late 1950s, D.C. Jarvis's popular book "Folk Medicine" praised apple cider vinegar as the solution for a range of ailments—from chronic fatigue, to arthritis, to fat pulverizing. And Patricia Bragg of Bragg Live Foods Inc., a California-based company that is one of the leading...
  • Her Body: Interview With a Former Fat Girl

    In a new book that pulls no punches, Lisa Delaney describes how she changed her life, dropped 70 pounds and kept the weight off. All about the 'mint-chocolate chip incident.'
  • A Prostate Cancer Revolution?

    Prostate cancer is the second leading cancer killer among men, after lung cancer. The American Cancer Society projects that in 2007 there will be 219,000 new cases and 27,000 deaths. Yet detecting the disease early has always been problematic. The only blood test available now—a test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA)—is not good at distinguishing malignancies from benign prostate enlargement (BPH). And it's useless for separating aggressive cancers from others that are so slow-growing they will likely never cause problems.But a new blood test, described this week in the journal Urology, could change all that. In a study of 385 men, the new test was able to distinguish BPH from prostate cancer, and it pinpointed men who were healthy, even when their PSA levels were higher than normal. It also did the reverse—singling out men with cancer, even when their PSA levels were low. It may also distinguish cancer confined to the prostate from cancer that has spread beyond the gland. And it...
  • How Doctors Think and (Hopefully) Avoid Mistakes

    Angelos Delivorrias, director of the Benaki Museum in Athens, knew at a glance that the marble statue of a young man was a fake. True, before purchasing the piece, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles had hired legions of experts, who concurred with its dating to the sixth century B.C. But Delivorrias was responding to his instinctive feeling on first seeing the piece, a sense of "intuitive repulsion." And he was most likely right, as the journalist Malcolm Gladwell recounted in his 2005 book, "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking." The Getty now lists the statue as a possible "modern forgery."Dr. Pat Croskerry knew at a glance that the patient in his emergency room wasn't having a heart attack. True, he had a sudden onset of severe chest pain, but Croskerry relied on his initial impression of a trim, athletic man in his early 40s. His test results were normal, so Croskerry diagnosed a muscle pull and sent him home. He was wrong, as the author and physician Jerome Groopman...
  • My Turn: I Had That Now-Banned Abortion

    It was Friday afternoon at nursery school and Simone just couldn't wait until Mother's Day to give me her present—a tote bag printed with a photo of the two of us.  When we got home, Toby greeted me with the card he'd made for me in kindergarten.  We all looked forward to dad coming home from a business trip.  It was the start of a perfect Mother's Day weekend.  I was 40, and I was joyfully pregnant.  "It'll be three kids by next Mother's Day," I remember thinking. When Monday came, I called my doctor for the results of my quadruple screen blood test from the past week, nothing I really sweated because a CVS test a couple months before had told us that our baby's chromosomes were completely normal. This time though, the doctor said that one of the screening tests concerned him and asked me to go to the hospital right away.The ultrasound technician's silence told David and me that something was very wrong.  The doctor explained that the baby had anencephaly, a neural tube defect. ...
  • Wars For Water?

    For years, experts and pundits have predicted that conflicts will increase over an ever scarcer and more valuable commodity: water. The fear has been that as populations grow and development spreads, vicious battles will erupt between water-rich and water-poor nations, particularly in major river basins where upstream nations control the flow of water to those downstream. To the doomsayers, global warming will only make those battles worse by decreasing rainfall and increasing evaporation in critical areas.The argument has a certain logic. Consider the Colorado River, a major water source for seven U.S. states and part of northwestern Mexico. Even now the Colorado can barely meet the needs of the many millions who rely on it. If water levels drop, according to Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California, it "could derail the system altogether," igniting bruising fights over ever-diminishing supplies. Things could get even uglier over the Nile (shared by Egypt,...
  • Hot On the Pole

    Time was when the polar bears looked like the best hope for Churchill, Manitoba. The tiny settlement (population: 1,000) in northern Canada had seen the closure of a nearby military base, and its port was in decline. Only the bears that roamed the tundra—this is the self-styled Polar Bear Capital of the World—and the beluga whales in the waters of the adjacent Hudson Bay pulled in visitors. Ten years ago, Ottawa decided to cuts its losses and sell the port to the U.S. railroad company OmniTRAX for just $1 and a promise to invest in its creaky infrastructure. Mike Ogborn, the company's managing director, says: "We stepped in when no one else wanted to be there."Smart move. The slow disappearance of the polar ice cap is transforming Churchill's prospects. The bears may be unhappy, but the entire region, stretching from Alaska to the northern tip of Norway and on to Siberia, is acquiring new economic and geostrategic significance. Oilmen yearn for easier access to the mineral wealth...
  • An African Revolution

    It's no surprise to hear that climate change is already hitting tropical Africa hard, as floods swamp the east and droughts plague the south. Such changes are hard to cope with in rich places.But keep reading: a burgeoning green revolution is already helping Africans adapt, enriching barren soil, training farmers and providing them with hardy hybrid seeds, and working with the private sector to help farmers enter the marketplace. And these programs are more effective and cheaper than previous efforts.Ethiopia has doubled its grain-food production in the last 12 years and may double it again. Last year Malawi, whose neighbors suffered food shortages, harvested twice the maize of the previous year. The explanation? National policies based on good science, providing farmers with fertilizer to overcome the lack of nitrogen and phosphorous in their soils and specially bred seeds that are higher yield and more pest- and drought-resistant.The Millennium Villages program, run by Columbia...
  • 'We Are a Nation-State'

    INTERVIEW: 'The Governator' walks where Washington fears to tread when it comes to global warming.
  • Q&A: Gary Yohe on Vulnerable Nations

    No matter what action we take to reduce emissions, the carbon already in the atmosphere will continue to warm the globe over the next century, creating winners and losers in business and agriculture. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported earlier this month, developing countries will have a particularly difficult time adapting to the rising sea levels and altered agricultural cycles, while developed countries of the north will have an easier time of it. Gary Yohe, an economist at Wesleyan University, has studied the potential damage from global climate change. The leader of the team that created the vulnerability index featured in this week’s issue of NEWSWEEK International, he spoke to Barrett Sheridan about adapting to a warmer world. Excerpts: ...
  • Leadership & the Environment: Green Issues

    No sooner did James McCarthy's name turn up in an associated Press story on the outlook for global warming than he started getting outraged e-mails from colleagues. All that McCarthy, a Harvard oceanographer who studies how climate change affects marine life, told the AP last week was that "the worst stuff is not going to happen ... not that I think the projections aren't that [accurate], but because we can't be that stupid." The overwhelming response, he said, was, What do you mean, we can't be that stupid? Just look around!On that very question could hinge the fate of much of life on Earth. Last week was bracketed by two events that could make 2007 a turning point in the effort to control global warming. On Monday, by a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government had the power under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. This victory for environmentalists was quickly snatched away by President Bush, who announced the next day that...
  • Climate Change and the Economy

    For centuries, the iconic trading floor at Lloyd's of London, the world's largest insurance market, has bustled with pin-striped underwriters whose job it is to predict the future. They used to use painstakingly detailed 50-year averages to forecast looming natural disasters. Then the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005 hit, blowing the old averages out of the water. In less than two years, seven out of the 10 costliest storms in history ravaged the U.S. coast; in 2005 alone, they cost Lloyd's syndicates and other insurers almost $60 billion—a number at the very top of their worst-case scenarios."When something extreme happens as a result of climate change, we're the ones who have to pick up the tab," says Lloyd's chairman, Peter Levene. Accordingly, the insurance company has warned in a recent report that unless it and its competitors start making better use of climate-change predictions, the whole industry could collapse.To make sure it doesn't, Lloyd's has undergone a remarkable...
  • This Way Forward

    Something weird is happening to the world's weather. Ski slopes in central Japan and the Alps were still green weeks after the start of the season. Giant hornets, once found only in the Far East, are now swarming in a warmer France. In the Australian outback, the worst drought on record is driving wild camels crazy with thirst. The global thermostat is malfunctioning. Everywhere nature is unsettled and, most likely, mankind deserves much of the blame.Those are the generally agreed facts. Global warming is now a reality that even die-hard skeptics struggle to dispute. The authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts temperatures will rise 4 degrees Celsius or more by the end of the century. Clearly, prompt action to limit CO2 emissions is needed. But it's just as clear that, whatever we do, temperatures will continue to climb—and that even a modest increase will tilt the world's economic and political balance. Put simply, in the short term there will be winners...
  • Mosquito Trajectory

    Mosquitoes like warm air, and they breed in water—that much we know. It stands to reason that the bugs would flourish in a world that is getting warmer and wetter. "We're seeing changes in the Himalayas, the highlands of Africa, in the Andes and up into Mexico and in other places in Asia, too," says Paul Epstein, associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard University. "We're seeing a very consistent pattern in highland regions throughout the globe." Is this a taste of what's to come?Some studies say yes. One found that temperature increases from 0.5 degrees to 3 degrees can double the population of Anopheles mosquitoes, which carry malaria, and double the speed at which dengue incubates in the Aedes aegypti mosquito, suggesting that its infectious life would increase. And temperature rises can extend a mosquito's range and lengthen the biting season. Climate models have the risk of catching dengue rising to 74 percent by 2050 and the number of...
  • Untold Harvest

    Extreme weather has always sustained India's population. Monsoons allow crops like millet to grow in the deserts of Rajasthan. But last year, when those formerly arid lands suddenly got three times their usual rainfall, villagers were panicked. The solution? Grow thirstier crops like wheat, mustard and spices. The result? A flooded area of Barmer, usually bone-dry part of Rajasthan, enjoyed a $3 million harvest last year, nearly 90 percent above the norm. "We can't change a natural phenomenon," says Barmer Deputy Commissioner Subir Kumar, who encouraged the replanting. "But with innovative ideas, we can perhaps use them to our advantage."Climate Cassandras have always said that a warming planet would be particularly bad for farmers—vast stretches of the earth's prime arable land area would be submerged and even larger portions overrun by desert. But as havoc looms, so do new opportunities. Spiking temperatures and wild swings in weather are turning green belts into dust bowls—but...
  • Who Will Win, and Who Will Lose

    America is scared of global warming. In a recent poll by Yale's Center for Environmental Law and Policy, 83 percent of Americans called global warming a "serious" problem, up from 70 percent in 2004, and 63 percent agreed that the United States "is in as much danger" from environmental threats including global warming "as it is from terrorists."If even gas-guzzling Americans are alive to the danger, you know most nations now accept climate change as real. But how will they adapt? Some are well positioned to weather changes in climate that will affect agriculture, trade, housing and poverty; others aren't. To identify who's ready and who's not, the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change asked some scientists to turn their attention to assessing countries at risk. One groundbreaking recent study by Columbia University's Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), came up with a way to rank nations by how prepared they are to adapt to climate change,...
  • 'Crisis'? 'Change'?—War of the Words

    What is the most pressing environmental issue we face today? "Global warming"? The "greenhouse effect"? At the Oscar ceremonies, Al Gore referred to a "climate crisis," but in his State of the Union address President Bush chose the comparatively anodyne phrase "climate change." They all refer to the same thing, but the first rule of modern political discourse is that before addressing any empirical problem each side must "frame the debate" in the most favorable way. If you doubt it, just try to get a Republican to utter the phrase "estate tax" rather than "death tax." Behind the overt campaign to head off whatever it is—environmental heating? thermal catastrophe?—is a covert struggle over what we should even call it.In recent years this has played out largely as a contest between "global warming" and "climate change." Bush's use of the latter was consistent with Republican practice, which calls for de-emphasizing the urgency of the situation, as recommended in a 2002 memo by...
  • Where China's Rivers Run Dry

    The view from the top of the luxurious Morgan Centre (which will soon host a seven-star hotel) down onto Beijing's Olympic Green, where the 2008 Summer Games will begin in less than 500 days, is breathtaking. There, far below, lies the stunning Herzog & de Meuron-designed "bird nest" Olympic Stadium. Right next to it is the equally mesmerizing National Aquatics Center, a square structure with bubbled blue translucent walls known as the Water Cube. International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge has called this soon-to-be-completed sports complex "nothing short of staggering."How successfully Beijing has turned the Games into a global coming-out party is—for anyone who, like me, came to know China when Mao still held sway—a mind-bending accomplishment. What has happened here in the intervening years is perhaps the most dramatic story of national transformation in human history. However, the environmental costs of China's hell-bent development have been severe. The...
  • Q&A: Our Fear Is Getting In the Way

    The standard scare stories about global warming don't worry Robert Mendelsohn. For more than 10 years, the Yale economist has been studying the likely impact of climate change. Convinced that manmade change is underway, he's nevertheless skeptical of prescriptions that call for a drastic response. So far, he says, the changes to our weather have been modest and can be addressed over time with less costly measures. But moderate voices like his, according to Mendelsohn, are being drowned out by extremists. He talked to NEWSWEEK's William Underhill. Excerpts: ...
  • Vineyards On the Move

    It sounds like a vintner's nightmare: Sharp shifts in temperature help trigger potent off-season rains that bloat grapes with unwanted moisture. Then an overpowering heat wave withers vines and shrivels grapes. Desperate winemakers advance the harvest by as much as a month to save what they can. This is no vineyard horror film; it's a description of some of the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon and merlot harvests in parts of southern and western France.And boy, was it good. In a decade that keeps breaking records for heat, we're already sipping climate-changed wines. Hot years like 2000 and 2006 produced some stellar, rich, full-bodied and mature Bordeaux, but the 2003 heat-wave harvest was the best in memory—at least until the hot harvest of 2005. Global-warming cru is more flavorful, fruitier, less acidic and higher in alcohol content than the average-temperature stuff, a near-perfect fit for today's wine drinkers. And these hot wines tend to come mature, so even a big Bordeaux no longer...
  • Beyond British Petroleum

    The side wall of Hurricane Katrina's eye passed directly over Shell Exploration & Production's Mars Tension Leg Platform, the largest producer in the Gulf of Mexico, battering it with waves 120 feet high and winds of 170mph for four hours. All told, the gulf hurricanes inflicted $300 million of damage to Shell's offshore operations in 2005. But there was a silver lining. The hurricanes prompted Shell to make redesigns, including higher decks and new materials, to protect platforms from extreme storms. "We got quite a bit of data out of the hurricane season in 2005," says Marvin Odum, Shell Exploration & Production's executive vice president for the Americas. "And that data has been rolled into the design parameters for future systems."Oil companies aren't likely to be first on anybody's green list, since they're producing the very stuff of greenhouse-gas emissions. But when it comes to facing a warming world, both as a world citizen and as a supplier of energy, parent firm...
  • Follow the Butterflies

    The moth known as Clancy's Rustic had never been seen in northwestern Europe. So what was it doing fluttering in a garden in Kent a few years ago? According to Britain's Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, moths and butterflies once found only in the Mediterranean and North Africa are venturing into Northern Europe in unprecedented numbers. The cause, says chief researcher Tim Sparks: global warming.Just as Al Gore called the melting of the polar ice "the canary in the coal mine," so are migrating insects a bright yellow warning. With butterflies on the move, says Sparks, could people be far behind? Climate-induced migration is a survival mechanism as old as life. Human mobility helped cultures sidestep extinction and often worked as a catalyst for growth and evolution. It could do so again. "Environmental refugees could become one of the foremost human crises of our time," says Norman Myers, an environmental scientist at Oxford University who once painted an infamously scary scenario...
  • The Costa del Norte

    It's the summer of 2060 and you're heading off for your European beach vacation in ... Parmu. Never heard of it? You will. According to a recent EU report, the Mediterranean's multibillion-euro tourism industry will likely shift toward Europe's northern coasts in Scandinavia, the British Isles and the Baltics (home to Parmu and other up-and-coming beach towns like Palanga and Jurmala). Last summer's surge of jellyfish and toxic algae in the Mediterranean didn't merely beach swimmers; it marked a shifting of the tides. Adíos, Costa del Sol; hello, Costa del Norte.Yes, a mighty change is coming. With temperatures warming, snow evaporating and portions of the Alps melting away, forecasts suggest we're looking ahead to a tourism revolution. Warming weather is shrinking prospects at most low- and even mid-altitude ski resorts, from the Rockies to the Pyrenees, while increasingly violent weather is destabilizing traditional beach paradises from the Mediterranean to Southeast Asia and the...
  • Schwarzenegger's Crusade

    Carbon czar: California's Hummer-loving governor is turning the Golden State into the greenest in the land, a place where environmentalism and hedonism can coexist. How a star turned pol's become the muscle behind saving the planet.
  • The Call for Draconian Cuts

    One of the criticisms of Al Gore’s message on climate change is that he exaggerates the imminence of the threat—implying, for instance, that sea levels may rise more quickly than scientists feel comfortable saying. But a few people think Gore is actually sugarcoating the catastrophe predictions.Most prominently, the renowned British scientist James Lovelock thinks that the world is already approaching a tipping point, beyond which temperature rise will run out of control and major ecosystems will collapse. The dying Amazon rainforest would begin releasing carbon, making things even hotter. The permafrost would melt, releasing carbon and causing sea levels to rise. Environmental writer George Monbiot has taken Lovelock’s pessimism and come up with a plan in "Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning" (South End Press). To avoid hitting the "critical threshold," he says, the world’s total carbon emissions must be reduced to 60 percent below current levels by 2030—a target that would...
  • Opinion: Global Warming Fears Overblown

    Judging from the media in recent months, the debate over global warming is now over. There has been a net warming of the earth over the last century and a half, and our greenhouse gas emissions are contributing at some level. Both of these statements are almost certainly true. What of it? Recently many people have said that the earth is facing a crisis requiring urgent action. This statement has nothing to do with science. There is no compelling evidence that the warming trend we've seen will amount to anything close to catastrophe. What most commentators—and many scientists—seem to miss is that the only thing we can say with certainly about climate is that it changes. The earth is always warming or cooling by as much as a few tenths of a degree a year; periods of constant average temperatures are rare. Looking back on the earth's climate history, it's apparent that there's no such thing as an optimal temperature—a climate at which everything is just right. The current alarm rests...
  • Cities of Virtue

    Sometimes great ideas are born of desperation. For Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, that sense of urgency developed in the winter of 2004- 2005, when the annual snowfall failed to materialize in the neighboring Cascade Mountains. That's a serious issue in Seattle, where melting snow feeds the city's reservoirs in the springtime and swells the river that supplies its hydroelectric energy. Even though the United States had declined to participate with the other 141 parties to the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions, Nickels decided to "show the world there was intelligent life in the United States after all." His goal was to convince 141 mayors of U.S. cities to commit to making the cuts anyway. That was two years ago. So far he's enlisted 435. "These cities represent 61 million people," says Nickels. "That's equivalent to the population of France and larger than the United Kingdom."American cities aren't the only ones clamoring to adapt to a warming world....
  • Q&A: Why I’m Investing in Climate Science

    Jeremy Grantham is used to assessing risk. As chairman of the Boston-based investment management company GMO, he’s responsible for assets worth $140 billion. These days he’s worried about climate change, but he’s not just wringing his hands—unlike most people, he’s investing his own money to prepare for change. Most recently, he’s announced a £12 million ($23.6 million) donation to establish the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College, London. The money will come from the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, which has already supported a wide range of organizations including Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund. He spoke to NEWSWEEK’s William Underhill. Excerpts: ...
  • Is Fiber the New Protein?

    Debbie Fireman is a self-proclaimed fiber junkie. The 41-year-old marketing exec from Penn Valley, Pa., eats fiber-rich foods "all day long," including whole foods like fruits, veggies, grains and beans. But that's not all. Her pantry is stocked with fiber supplements, cereals and snack bars, loaded with apples, cinnamon, peanut butter and chocolate. "Fiber is great for you, and it doesn't have to taste like cardboard," she says.Once relegated to the bottom of the heap by carb-phobic foodies enamored by all things high in protein, fiber is finally getting some respect. There were 400 new high-fiber food products introduced in 2002, according to market-research firm Datamonitor. Last year, 890 new products hit supermarket shelves, including high-fiber breads, chips, crackers, cookies, and prepared meals and entrees. And 2007 is poised for more growth as aging boomers and Gen-Xers discover fiber's benefits. If you're tired of dry and flavor-free whole-wheat foods, don't despair. ...
  • America’s Greenest Mayors

    Sometimes great ideas are born of desperation. For Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, that sense of urgency developed in the winter of 2004-05, when the annual snowfall failed to materialize in the neighboring Cascade Mountains. That's a serious issue in Seattle, where melting snow feeds the city's reservoirs in the springtime and swells the river that supplies its hydroelectric energy. Nickels's advisers were coming to him weekly with reports that the snow pack was just 1 percent of normal. "I don't think 'normal' exists anymore," Nickels remembers saying, having endured a succession of unusually warm winters. "Normal would be cause for popping champagne corks."Nickels wasn't the only one who was starting to worry about climate change. In February 2005, 141 nations worldwide were preparing to put the Kyoto Protocol into effect—aiming to reduce global warming by cutting greenhouse-gas emissions 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The United States was notably not one of them, so Nickels...
  • Picture Change

    For some creative minds, climate change represents not impending gloom but opportunity—a chance to imagine a world reshaped by warming, to rethink the way they work by using green methods and materials. David Buckland, a British photographer, filmmaker and designer, founded a pioneering endeavor called Cape Farewell, named after the tip of Greenland, which organizes expeditions for scientists and artists to sail through the Arctic waters—only now passable because the ice has melted. The voyages often result in powerful works that express newfound appreciation for the wonders of the natural world as well as regret, bewilderment and anger about global warming. "These changes are fertile ground within which the artist can work—not the pending dark of a sunset but the morning light of new possibilities," he says.The project, which Buckland inaugurated after realizing there was "no imagery for climate change," aims to give audiences as well as artists new ways of grasping environmental...
  • Ornish: How to Fix Health Insurance

    Because of a growing awareness that the current system is unsustainable, reformers are promoting disease prevention. A look at one campaign leader.