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Humans beat robots, hands down

We can readily manipulate all kinds of objects; for them, versatility is a huge struggle. They need better mechanics — and a lot more of the intelligence that goes into handling things.

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.

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.

Take this job and . . . gig it

A few hours here, a few hours there. At home, or somewhere else. Alternative work can be a great deal or it can leave you unprotected, as management scholar Lindsey Cameron explains in a Q&A.

3-D printing finds a custom foothold in manufacturing

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

Organs grown to order

Genetic advances may make it possible to grow transplantable tissues in other species. That could solve immunity and availability issues, but raises ethical concerns.

Do patents invent innovation?

They're a common index of technological creativity, but research finds they can impede rather than encourage it

How to detect clandestine nuclear weapons programs

A “policy physicist” explores practical ways to sniff out uranium processing from afar

A toast to the Pope

Professor Charlie Bamforth is retiring. But he still fizzes with strong opinions on good beer, solid brewers and – Ptooey! – wine.

The science of better beer

Advances in the lab are adding variety, efficiency and precision to age-old brewing traditions

Microbes in the medical bag

Genetically engineered gut bacteria hold promise for safe, targeted therapies

The photosynthesis fix

As world food needs rise, so does the need for faster, more efficient plant growth. Bypassing an error-prone enzyme is one way to do it.

Bumpy air boosts wind power

Turbulence regenerates gust strength between turbines, influencing design of arrays that can pull energy from the sky

A fine time for slime

Hagfish repel predators with fast-forming super goop. Scientists are attracted to its potential for biomaterials.

A robotic window on the human mind

Engineers aim to build machines that put people at ease. The effort reveals truths about ourselves.

Chemistry on paper may make diagnoses cheap and portable

Next-gen microfluidic sensors could improve health monitoring at home and far afield

Roles for robots

Robots are getting geared up for a variety of human health and social uses

Getting it ripe

From meh to wow: The science of fruit maturation reveals new paths to better flavor