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?

Searching for life among the stars

Astronomer Lisa Kaltenegger reckons the galaxy could contain as many as 40 billion habitable planets. Here, she speaks about the search for those faraway worlds and signatures of life.

A robotic window on the human mind

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

Can marriage make you sick?

In general, it promotes health. But it might not if your relationship is troubled or your partner is ill. Here's why, and what can be done.

Plant, reap, repeat — and now rethink

Replacing the annual farming cycle with perennial crops could be better for soil, water and wildlife

Balance, not carbs or fat, is the key to healthy eating

An expert’s view on a common-sense diet: Don’t fuss over details, and put more plants on the plate