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Living World

In praise of parasites

They worm into snails and infect the brains of fish. They’ve also found their way into Kevin Lafferty’s heart. He sees them as beautiful examples of sophisticated evolution, and as keys to ecosystem balance.

When the brain’s waste disposal system fails

Marco Sardiello explains how problems with the cell’s lysosomes lead to disease

Bypassing paralysis

By decoding brain activity with electrical implants, computers can help disabled people move a robotic arm — or their own

How a second language can boost the brain

Being bilingual benefits children as they learn to speak — and adults as they age

Fighting crime with statistics

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

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.

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.

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.

Dangers of ecotourism: Up close and infectious

Travelers’ desire for intimate encounters with wildlife may threaten the animals they love

Truly, neurally, deeply

Scientists are developing AI systems called deep neural nets that can read medical images and detect disease — with astonishing efficiency

She sees dead bodies

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

3-D printing finds a custom foothold in manufacturing

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