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The hidden damage of solitary confinement

Meant to punish or protect, social isolation in prison creates a ripple of unintended effects on the psyche

In adults, and now in teens, poor sleep is linked to cardiovascular risk

A slumber researcher explains why getting enough z’s is crucial to your health

Managing pain in a time of opioid abuse

Other therapies, more training, a new mindset: Can doctors bring relief to patients without putting them at risk for addiction?

Why viruses deserve a better reputation

Sure they cause disease, but the microbes can be a help as well. Witness long-lasting pepper seeds, drought-resistant crop plants and even our own placentas.

Making sense of many universes

The idea of a multiverse — multiple realms of space differing in basic properties of physics — bugs some scientists. Others find it a real possibility that should not be ignored.

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

Hacking the immune system

How the body’s own defense cells can be turned into tiny, programmable assassins to battle cancers and other disorders

The anti-ads

Countermarketing succeeds by exposing the motives behind the advertising of unhealthy products. It worked for teen smoking — could it do the same for junk food?

Feeling the pressure

How we want to be perceived influences how we act, and that presents persuasion opportunities. But the social factors involved are not easy to unravel.

In promoting health, when to tiptoe — and when to stomp?

Inform, incentivize, legislate: There’s a ladder of escalating approaches for changing citizens’ behavior — and nudges for every rung

Has humankind driven Earth into a new epoch?

Our mark on Earth is so profound that some argue it’s time to bid goodbye to the current geological time period — the Holocene — in favor of a new one: the Anthropocene.

The truth in baby teeth

Fossilized remains of children have a lot to tell us about their short lives

Getting to know the gut microbiome

Researchers are finally getting the tools to understand just how the microbial communities in and on our bodies affect health. But there are many mysteries left to solve — and many technological challenges.

Do yourself a favor

Thinking of others enhances your well-being, while selfishness just adds to stress, studies show

The pileup of plastic debris is more than ugly ocean litter

A solid-waste specialist offers ways to halt the plague of pollutants choking the seas

Making sense of media bias

Just how partisan is the press, and should the public be worried?