35 articles
  • Article Recirculation Lead Image

    Science Should Be Totally Beautiful

    Felice Frankel lives between the lines. Along with being a part-time science photographer, she’s a researcher at the Center for Materials Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “As a photographer,” Frankel says, “I look for edges.” Her previous career, as a photographer of architecture, taught her how to capture the most striking […]
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    Is Multilingual Rap Eroding Canada’s French Language?

    Recently a Quebec arts foundation required the Francophone rap group Dead Obies to give back an $18,000 grant they’d been awarded to record their newest album. The problem? A word count determined that the group had stirred too much English into their distinctive multilingual lyrics, falling short of the rule that 70 percent of the […]
  • torrey pine_HERO

    Should We All Be Helping Trees Relocate?

    Torrey pines seem like they could use some human help. According to the U.S. Forest Service, they are the rarest pine species in North America, with fewer than 10,000 trees growing in the wild. They’re split between Santa Rosa Island, off California’s southern coast, and a small state forest perched on the coastal bluffs just […]
  • hawaii beetle_HERO

    Why Is Hawaii Evolving So Many Species of This Wingless Beetle?

    Two Mecyclothorax beetles abandon their relatives on the forest floor to climb up a tree. They settle into a moss home, eat, mate, and die. A couple hundred years or so pass until one of the original beetles’ offspring walks back down. But all the close relatives it once had there are already gone. There’s […]
  • mingarelli_HERO

    What It’s Like to Be a Female Gravity Wave Hunter

    Chiara Mingarelli can count herself as a successful scientist. She is a Marie Curie Fellow at Caltech, and a former visiting scholar at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Her area of research, hunting for gravitational waves using distant stars, is at one of the forefronts of cosmology. Her scientific work has been cited in nearly 1,000 […]
  • seeing house_HERO

    Epilepsy Patients Are Helping Us Read Minds

    Irvin Yalom, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, dreamt about peering into minds. “A series of distorting prisms block the knowing of the other,” he wrote in Love’s Executioner: And Other Tales of Psychotherapy, in 2012. “Perhaps in some millennium, such union will come to pass—the ultimate antidote for isolation, the ultimate scourge […]

  • airplane passengers_HERO

    Why It’s Hard to Recognize the Unlikely

    Whenever I fly, I like to talk to the person sitting next to me. Once in a while, I find that we know at least one person in common. If you are like me, perhaps coincidences such as this happen in your life as well.The most unusual coincidence in my life took place when I […]

  • bear attack_HERO

    Being (Almost) Eaten Alive Can Make You a Diehard Environmentalist

    In his Oscar acceptance speech, Leonardo DiCaprio said, “Making The Revenant was about man’s relationship to the natural world.” Perhaps the film’s most gripping illustration of this was when a grizzly bear nearly mauls DiCaprio’s character, an American fur trapper, to death. To be eaten by a predator, after all, may be the most apt […]

  • emissions_HERO

    Here’s How Industrial Emitters Can Pinpoint Their Carbon Footprint

    Given how hazardous greenhouse gases (GHGs) are to our atmosphere and climate, it is perplexing to find hardly anyone talking about how those gases are measured. Even among those who do, you seldom spot anyone who mentions—amid the small fonts and tables, graphs, and charts—how data is collected in the field. Why? Because the tools […]

  • Big Data_HERO

    How Big Data Creates False Confidence

    If I claimed that Americans have gotten more self-centered lately, you might just chalk me up as a curmudgeon, prone to good-ol’-days whining. But what if I said I could back that claim up by analyzing 150 billion words of text? A few decades ago, evidence on such a scale was a pipe dream. Today, […]

  • Mingarelli_HERO

    Spark of Science: Chiara Mingarelli

    How stars and UFOs set one astrophysicist on her path.

  • Dijkgraff_HERO

    Are There Barbarians at the Gates of Science?

    The increasingly complex border between science and society is changing both.
  • Peterson_HERO

    Can a Cat Have an Existential Crisis?

    Treating my cat for depression caused me to question the state of anxiety in animals and us.
  • Dark Humor_HERO

    When Does Dark Humor Stop Being Funny?

    In either ninth or tenth grade, my friend Dan and I found a book of “Truly Tasteless Jokes” on the cafeteria floor. Our teenage psyches were quickly mesmerized, and we spent the majority of lunch reading it cover to cover. I laughed at one dead baby joke in particular (which I can’t repeat here). It […]
  • Asteroid Mining_HERO

    Mining in Space Could Lead to Conflicts on Earth

    Space mining is no longer science fiction. By the 2020s, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries—for-profit space-mining companies cooperating with NASA—will be sending out swarms of tiny satellites to assess the composition of hurtling hunks of cosmic debris, identify the most lucrative ones, and harvest them. They’ve already developed prototype spacecraft to do the job. […]
  • Levine_HERO

    Parasites Are Us

    How biological invaders challenge our idea of self and other.