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The human hand in fish evolution

Fishery practices that go for the big ones may be counterproductive when mostly the small survive

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The tricky task of tallying carbon

To slow or stop global warming, the world agrees it must cut carbon dioxide emissions. But monitoring each nation’s output of greenhouse gases is not always straightforward.

The weapons of sexual rivalry

Male-male competition, and sometimes female preferences, have driven arms races for the flashiest horns, antlers, pincers, tusks and claws

The future that graphene built

Move over, flat carbon. Meet borophene, phosphorene and the rest of the next generation of “atomically thin” super-materials.

What are California megafires? | Things to Know

VIDEO: Megafires, which burn over 100,000 acres, can cause catastrophic damage. Researchers are studying fire behavior in the lab and in the field in order to fight these flames more effectively.

Why scientists need to be better at data visualization

The scientific literature is riddled with bad charts and graphs, leading to misunderstanding and worse. Avoiding design missteps can improve understanding of research.  

What are fire whirls? | Things to Know

VIDEO: Researchers examine the behavior of these tornado-like fire columns

Fast facts about the Milky Way | Things to Know

VIDEO: Our galaxy may seem humble, but here are a few things to know about what makes it an exceptional place

Election polls aren’t broken, but they still can’t predict the future

Polling can take the pulse of a population’s sentiment, but swing voters, skewed samples and other issues have always limited its ability to pick a winner

Getting the microbe story, straight from the mouth

A trio of researchers has mapped the living things that make the tongue, gums and palate home

Profiling the perpetrators of past plagues

The ancient pathogens in old graves are as dead as the people they once infected. Still, they tell a vivid tale.

GPS is going places

Here are five things you didn’t know the navigation system could do

Measuring surgical quality

Not all surgeons are equally skilled with a scalpel. Doctors are developing new ways to test — and improve — operating room performance.

Polymers promise a more flexible artificial retina

Organic semiconductors can link up with brain cells to send and receive signals. They may find a use in sight-restoring prostheses. 

The global soda tax experiment

An increasing number of cities and countries have begun taxing sugary beverages. But can raising the price of these drinks really make a dent in obesity, diabetes and other ailments?

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

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.

Lessons from scorching hot weirdo-planets

Hot Jupiters were the first kind of exoplanet found. A quarter-century later, they still perplex and captivate — and their origins hold lessons about planet formation in general.

An amphibious rescue mission

On the edge of extinction, rare frogs and toads need more than a little love to reproduce. High-tech help, from IVF to hormone therapy, may save them.

What electronic games can teach us

Digital play can enhance certain types of learning, but how to harness that potential for the classroom remains a prize question

Now in development: off-the-shelf stem cells

Their potential as universal donors promises to make regenerative medicine more broadly practical

Hotter than the sun: The mysterious solar corona

Several new missions aim squarely at a long-standing astronomical conundrum, with the promise of improving space-weather predictions

The next omics? Tracking a lifetime of exposures to better understand disease

Of the millions of substances people encounter daily, health researchers have focused on only a few hundred. Those in the emerging field of exposomics want to change that.