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A salamander’s dangerous liaisons

The giant genomes of these struggling amphibians tell a story of outsider invasions, assault by disease and cross-species sex. A geneticist explains.

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.

She sees dead bodies

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

Unbound and out: Boosted by black holes, stars speed off, leaving clues behind

Space oddities may help reveal dark matter and other secrets in the Milky Way. Astronomer Warren Brown explains.

Dangers of ecotourism: Up close and infectious

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

Break on through: How some viruses infect the placenta

A few rare viruses can reach the fetus when pregnant women are infected, with tragic result. As explored in this Q&A, researchers are figuring out how the placenta acts as protector and how some pathogens slip through.

A long-overlooked brain region may be key to complex thought

The thalamus has traditionally been viewed just as the brain’s sensory relay station. But it may also play an important role in higher-level cognition, MIT’s Michael Halassa explains in a Q&A.

The unmet promise of Big Data in policing

Today’s astounding computing power offers great potential for reducing crime, but a criminologist says law enforcement has yet to find ways to fully tap it.

Humanizing immunology

The field has long been more mice than men. New technologies and systems-based approaches with human cells may soon fill gaps in our understanding of autoimmune disease and health, Mark Davis says in a Q&A.

The mind of an anthill

Can we use the tools of psychology to understand how colonies of social insects make decisions?

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 music moves us — but how?

The author of This Is Your Brain on Music talks about the very human ways the mind and body keep the beat.

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.

Unhealthy work: Why migrants are especially vulnerable to injury and death on the job

A mysterious kidney disease is just one of the many health risks faced by immigrant laborers. In a Q&A, occupational health expert Marc Schenker discusses the hazards and a few potential solutions.

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.