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Dangers of ecotourism: Up close and infectious

Travelers’ desire for intimate encounters with wildlife may threaten the animals they love

When courtroom science goes wrong — and how stats can fix it

COMIC: Bite marks, shoe prints, crime-scene fibers: Matches to suspects are often far shakier than courtroom experts claim. Better statistical methods — among them, a little beast known as the “likelihood ratio” — can cut down on wrong convictions.

Eyes in the sky: 5 ways drones will change agriculture

From spotting leaks to patrolling for pathogens, flying robots are taking up chores on the farm.

A long-overlooked brain region may be key to complex thought

The thalamus has traditionally been viewed just as the brain’s sensory relay station. But it may also play an important role in higher-level cognition, MIT’s Michael Halassa explains in a Q&A.

The unmet promise of Big Data in policing

Today’s astounding computing power offers great potential for reducing crime, but a criminologist says law enforcement has yet to find ways to fully tap it.

Lost world: An ancient ninth planet that went missing

Clues hidden in today’s orbits hint at the violent origins of the solar system — and a rogue giant kicked out long ago.

As the Arctic warms, it’s losing more than just ice

SLIDESHOW: Also at risk are the many hidden habitats built into the sea’s frozen wilds.

Finding the fat: The US Farm Bill and health

America has grown obese on processed, sugary and deceptively cheap foods. Some blame policies enshrined in an unwieldy, bloated beast of legislation.

The mind of an anthill

Can we use the tools of psychology to understand how colonies of social insects make decisions?

What droopy antennae, crouching cockroaches and still fruit flies have to tell us about the secrets of sleep

Slumbering bugs offer clues to explaining humans’ need for shut-eye

Five mysteries about breast milk

The little that we know about breastfeeding tells us a lot — imagine if we knew more

How to build a mountain range

Geologists explore the rise of the Andes, whose high-altitude peaks and plateau alter global climate.

Immigration isn’t linked to higher crime rates — but not everyone can believe it

Criminologist Charis Kubrin has spent more than a decade researching the effects of immigration on law and order. She’s finding that it takes more than data to make her case.

Managing pain in a time of opioid abuse

Other therapies, more training, a new mindset: Can doctors bring relief to patients without putting them at risk for addiction?

The curious case of acrylamide: California’s Prop. 65 explained

Lattes today, hot dogs tomorrow? Why health warnings in California crop up in many — and sometimes surprising — places and why you should care

3-D printing finds a custom foothold in manufacturing

From rocket thrusters to shoe soles, additive technologies expand their sights

Darwin’s finches fall prey to a blood-sucking parasite

An invasive fly could mean the loss of bird species on the Galápagos Islands. To save them, scientists may introduce another invasive insect.

E-cigarettes: A win or loss for public health?

They’re less toxic than traditional cigarettes but still addictive and not without their own health risks. Researchers disagree on whether vaping can help or harm efforts to reduce tobacco use.

Building planets, piece by piece

The theory of “pebble accretion” explains how infant worlds got so big so quickly

The self-made beauty of the centriole

Cells build an elegant, symmetrical structure. How they do it is intriguing on its own, but recent insights could also help explain some developmental disorders.

Invisibility aside, metamaterials are making waves

Materials that manipulate light and sound in ways not seen in nature may be ready for prime time, improving imaging and communications

What makes a tree a tree?

Despite numerous studies and 30-plus genomes under their belts, scientists are still struggling to nail down the defining traits of these tall, long-lived, woody plants