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 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

Heterostructures get a quantum buildup

A summary of “Quantum-Matter Heterostructures” by H. Boschker and J. Mannhart that appears in the 2017 Annual Review of Condensed Matter Physics

Getting it ripe

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