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Health & Disease

Watching Alzheimer’s in action

A look inside the brains of engineered mice suggests therapies might need to target two key proteins — tau and amyloid-beta — at the same time

The story of Snowball Earth

Ancient rocks suggest that ice entirely covered our planet on at least two occasions. This theory may help explain the rise of complex life that followed.

Firenadoes and drifting embers: The secrets of extreme wildfires

Researchers probe the weather-like physics of deadly infernos

Grim relics

Archaeology of the Nazi era is about digging for truth through science. Reinhard Bernbeck discusses the origins and ethics of this approach.

A deeper understanding of the Grand Canyon

After 100 years as a national park and eons as a geological wonder, the American icon continues to reveal layers of its past and of the landscape ahead

The quest for autism’s causes, and what it reveals about all of us

The more researchers look, the more multifaceted the risk factors appear — and the more we learn about how the brain works and develops

Gut feelings

The same taste receptors found on the tongue are in the stomach, intestines and elsewhere, too. What are they doing there? Well, a lot.

Looking for economic prosperity without growth

The only way for humanity to solve its environmental problems may be to abandon our quest for continual economic expansion. It’s time to study what a future of degrowth might look like, some researchers say.

Why speech is a human innovation

Many animals have the equipment for spoken language, but only people have all the right neural connections

Unraveling breast cancer risk

Only about 10 percent of people with breast cancer have links to known gene variants, but another 20 percent have significant family history. Scientists are delving deeper into the genome to find what remains unexplained.

The power of brands, conscious and unconscious

Economists explore the complex forces that shape what ends up in your shopping cart and how that might change in the online marketplace 

Mixing it up in the web of life

Many types of marine plankton are either animal-like or plant-like. But a huge number are both, and they are upending ideas about ocean ecology.

The inheritance enigma

Retirement is a time for spending, not saving. And yet many people hold on to their wealth. Understanding why, and where that money ends up, is of increasing importance as the US population ages. 

The human factor in clean water

There are many cheap and effective ways to provide safe water to the world’s poor regions. But projects often fail due to inadequate planning, maintenance or persuasive power.

Genetics extends the long arm of the law

In an evolving branch of forensic science, genealogists help solve crimes, sometimes identifying suspects with the DNA of distant relatives they’ve never met. As cold cases yield, concerns about privacy issues persist.

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.

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

Awesome ears: The weird world of insect hearing

Evolution made insect ears many times over, resulting in a dazzling variety of forms found in spots all over the body. Biologists are digging deep into some of those ears to figure out how and why they came to be.

Fighting crime with statistics

Taking advantage of “natural experiments,” researchers analyze data to look at what works

Reaching out to touch virtual reality

New technologies mean we won’t just see and hear digital information. We’ll also feel it.

Making the case against memories as evidence

Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus has shown that our recall can be woefully unreliable. Slowly but surely, the legal system — and more of her peers — are taking her findings into account.

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.

What will it take to fix work-life balance?

It’s time to toss out the idea that dedicated professionals must always be on the clock or that retail shops will founder if they standardize employee hours, legal scholar Joan Williams says in a Q&A. The data tell a different tale.