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Fighting urban violence, one empty lot at a time

Could cleaning up neighborhoods make cities safer? Researchers are looking at novel, inexpensive solutions to crime that everyone can agree on.

Five mysteries about breast milk

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

Controlling electric signals in the body could help it heal

Tiny charges inside human cells spur development of an embryo’s form and structure. In a Q&A, Michael Levin talks about using those sparks to fix birth defects, control cancer and regrow tissues.

Unearthing secrets of human sacrifice

Archaeologists turn to other scientific fields to fill in the picture of how victims lived and why they died

Is it time to bring data to managing?

Trendy office layouts. Performance reviews that crush morale. There’s plenty of evidence on how to get the best out of workers, but businesses often ignore it.

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.

How to build a mountain range

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

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?

3-D printing finds a custom foothold in manufacturing

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

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

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

Centuries of pondering — and squabbling about — trees

COMIC: Do forests warm or cool the Earth? What’s their effect on global climate change? A comic narrated by polymath Benjamin Franklin describes the evolution of thought on this issue and what we still don’t know.

A crash of stars reveals the origins of heavy elements

Colliding neutron stars sent out a gravitational wave as well as new clues about where gold, platinum and other atoms are forged.

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