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The life and breath of galaxies

Scientists track gas through time and space to better understand how conglomerations of stars are born and die

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Analytics wind up for a shot in ice hockey

Moneyball-like statistical tools have already changed baseball, basketball and football. But bringing such methods to the ice has proved challenging. That might soon be changing.

To date a dinosaur

Stegosaur expert Susie Maidment is laying crucial groundwork for assigning ages to fossils from North America’s most dinosaur-rich rocks. More precise timings promise to reveal plenty about how the beasts lived and evolved through time.

Predicting biological invaders

Complex mathematical tools are aiding the battle to identify invasive species before they get a foothold in the environment. But bureaucracy can blunt the techniques.

Curious cure: Human waste

Studies point to the life-saving record of fecal transplants for patients infected with C. diff, despite a recent death. Doctors are now testing the procedure for other conditions.

Archaeology of the 99%

The vast majority of people in antiquity were too poor to leave many artifacts behind. But archaeologists have learned how to look beyond the temples and palaces.

How our bodies coddle cancer

Tumors resist chemotherapy with help from a surprising source: nearby normal cells. Researchers are developing workarounds.

How the moon landings changed our view of the solar system

Lunar samples hinted at a barrage of debris pummelling planets billions of years ago. Fifty years after Apollo 11, that story is still unfolding. 

Mucus: the body’s unsung hero

The slimy stuff has a surprisingly wide array of beneficial biological functions

Tiny, living stones of the sea

How limestone-covered algae sway global climate — and how their fate may shift as the oceans acidify

The hidden strengths of freshwater mussels

The humble bivalves can clean polluted water and bump up diversity — but in dammed rivers and fouled watersheds, many species face extinction. With help, maybe they can save themselves.

First, do harm

Studies that deliberately infect people with diseases are on the rise. They promise speedier vaccine development, but there’s a need to shore up informed consent.

How 3-D printing could help shape surgery

Technology is enabling increasingly lifelike models of organs to help doctors practice operations.

Life’s a blur — but we don’t see it that way

Our brains manage to construct stable images even as our eyes keep darting around. Here’s what we know about how that happens. 

The mighty Milky Way

Our galaxy is far bigger, brighter and more massive than most others

Unpersuasive: Why arguing about climate change often doesn't work

COMIC: In the US, where political parties have increasingly staked claims on one side of the issue or the other, beliefs may be more about belonging than facts

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.

The monarch’s stupendous migration, dissected

COMIC: The feisty orange-black butterfly uses a toolbox of biological tricks to find its way down to Mexico for winter and flap north again in spring. Here’s how scientists figured out those tricks — and what they don’t yet understand.

Sex strategies of the evolutionary kind

For women, a short-term fling may involve a quest for good genes or just a good time. It’s a puzzle for the researchers looking at how people choose mates.

Plasmonics brings the molecular world into sharper focus

People have been using metals to manipulate light for centuries. Now researchers are using it to create powerful biosensors.

If it pleases the Prosecution

The immense powers of prosecutors throughout the US mean that the scales are tipped against defendants — and justice itself, says a legal expert

A middle path to sustainable farming

Agricultural economists are homing in on hybrid, low-input methods that will both safeguard the environment and feed the future billions

Will the food of the future be genetically engineered or organic? How about both?

Feeding the planet — now and tomorrow — is no small task. Plant biologist Pamela Ronald says sustainability means using every tool in the toolbox.

A blizzard of “sustainability” labels

Earth-friendly certifications and standards abound for products like coffee, chocolate and palm oil. But do the programs work?