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Living World

A salamander’s dangerous liaisons

The giant genomes of these struggling amphibians tell a story of outsider invasions, assault by disease and cross-species sex. A geneticist explains.

A “subprime” crisis in housing? Think again.

Economist Antoinette Schoar and colleagues found that middle-class homebuyers had more to do with 2008’s real estate crash than the less-wealthy consumers usually blamed for it.

The financial crisis flared in an era of invisible high risk. Has the system been reformed?

Economists tracking changes post-recession say safeguards should reduce the vast vulnerabilities seen 10 years ago. But putting out fires may be harder.

A run on the bank, 21st century style

Timeline: Major moments of the 2008 global financial crisis

Sticky science: Evolution of spiderwebs

The eight-legged weavers have been hunting insects for almost 400 million years, flaunting their long history in a rich array of architectures. Scientists are still figuring out the taxonomy of them all.

She sees dead bodies

An environmental historian looks at how Americans treat corpses and what it means

Betting on bats for genetic treasures

Bat genomes are full of clever tricks that are treats for biology and medical science — it’s why scientists want to sequence them all

Scientists look to new technologies to make food safer

From romaine to snack crackers, foodborne disease outbreaks have increasingly worried the public. Cold plasma and high-pressure systems might help reduce the risks.

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.

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.

Searching for chocolate’s roots, and enemies, in Colombia’s wilderness

A newfound peace has spurred the hunt for disease-resistant wild cacao within the nation’s borders. What scientists find could help the country expand its role in the global trade.

Top 10 secrets about stress and health

The strain of life — from everyday conflicts to major losses — can stretch our well-being to the breaking point. Here’s what scientists know, and still don’t know, about the stress-illness connection.

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?

3-D printing finds a custom foothold in manufacturing

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

The future of work: Will robots take my job?

Automation threatens to replace some workers but can grow overall employment. The one sure thing is that technology will change how we labor.

Bad bosses: Dealing with abusive supervisors

From the boardroom to the basketball court, some managers rely on berating and bullying employees. Researchers have learned one thing: It doesn’t work.

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.

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.