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Digital disease surveillance: Tracking a pandemic

Social media posts and online searches may offer vital clues about the spread of influenza — and now Covid-19. But they also risk errors and threaten privacy.

Information apocalypse: All about deepfakes

VIDEO: Doctored images, fake videos and computer-generated news are easier than ever to create and distribute. Here’s why you should worry and what you can do.

Synthetic media: The real trouble with deepfakes

Keeping on top of manipulated videos and images is no easy feat. Scientists trace the roots of their proliferation, dig up new techniques to counter digital forgeries and warn of the growing dangers ahead.

What do genes do? | Things to Know

VIDEO: Scientists have captured live video of parts of the most fundamental event in biology — cells reading and copying DNA instructions to make proteins

New projects broaden the search for alien signals from space

A longer list of Earth-like planets, eavesdropping on radio waves and looking for laser light shows: All raise the chances of detecting E.T.

Sell-by dates | Things to Know

VIDEO: Time stamps on packaging prompt consumers to toss a lot of food, but what do they actually say about safety?

The future that graphene built

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

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. 

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

Cell meets robot in hybrid microbots

Researchers are developing microbe-propelled tiny bots to deliver drugs, target cancer or do other work in the body

How 3-D printing could help shape surgery

Technology is enabling increasingly lifelike models of organs to help doctors practice operations.

Plasmonics brings the molecular world into sharper focus

People have been using metals to manipulate light for centuries. Now researchers are using it to create powerful biosensors.

The body’s tiny cargo carriers

Scientists are finding that microscopic membranous bubbles called extracellular vesicles transmit messages from cells and do big jobs in many areas of biology — plus they might be useful for therapies.

What does it look like to “turn on” a gene?

Only recently have scientists directly witnessed this most pivotal of events in biology, thanks to new technology that allows them to observe the process in living cells. It’s teaching them a lot.

Nuclear goes retro — with a much greener outlook

Returning to designs abandoned in the 1970s, start-ups are developing a new kind of reactor that promises to be much safer and cleaner than current ones.

Genetics extends the long arm of the law

In an evolving branch of forensic science, genealogists help solve crimes, sometimes identifying suspects with the DNA of distant relatives they’ve never met. As cold cases yield, concerns about privacy issues persist.

Sounding out the brain

Ultrasound isn’t just for images. Sonogenetics and other promising technologies let researchers use focused sound waves to control genes and entire cells deep in the tissues of living animals, without surgery.

Reaching out to touch virtual reality

New technologies mean we won’t just see and hear digital information. We’ll also feel it.