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What makes food ‘local’?

More people are choosing what to eat based on where it was grown, made or created. An anthropologist looks at the myriad ways we link food to place — and whether it really could make a difference.

Why real-life places still matter in the age of texting and Twitter

Interactions in physical spaces, whether around the watercooler or at the neighborhood bar, are crucial to forming social ties

Out of the mouth of babes

Learning a language is child’s play, but linguists are still trying to understand how children do it so easily

Robots designed to self-construct

Robot researcher Mark Yim offers a look inside the promising field of modular reconfigurable robotics — bots that can shift form to tackle an array of tasks

Treating the growing trauma of family separation

War, disasters, trafficking and immigration are tearing millions of children from their parents all around the world. A psychologist explores how to help them recover.

Why green energy finally makes economic sense

Solar and wind generators have suddenly become just as cheap as other ways to produce electric power

The human hand in fish evolution

Fishery practices that go for the big ones may be counterproductive when mostly the small survive

Living with chronic illness: Why some cope and others don’t

What helps some people diagnosed with cancer, heart disease or diabetes stay relatively happy and healthy, while others are devastated? Psychologist Vicki Helgeson explains the traits and mindsets that can make the difference.

Getting the microbe story, straight from the mouth

A trio of researchers has mapped the living things that make the tongue, gums and palate home

Profiling the perpetrators of past plagues

The ancient pathogens in old graves are as dead as the people they once infected. Still, they tell a vivid tale.

Measuring surgical quality

Not all surgeons are equally skilled with a scalpel. Doctors are developing new ways to test — and improve — operating room performance.

Revenge is bittersweet at best

Research is starting to reveal how the urge for vengeance may have evolved, when it can be useful and what could prevent the violence it can provoke

Lessons from scorching hot weirdo-planets

Hot Jupiters were the first kind of exoplanet found. A quarter-century later, they still perplex and captivate — and their origins hold lessons about planet formation in general.

How maternal mood shapes the developing brain

Stress and anxiety during pregnancy can mean a higher risk of offspring developing ADHD, depression or other conditions. Medical psychologist Catherine Monk explains how prenatal mental care benefits mothers and babies.

Going gentle

A sociologist explains how to get the most out of the final months of life

Total recall: A brilliant memory helps chickadees survive

In winter, the birds must remember where they’ve hidden tens of thousands of seeds. Biologist Vladimir Pravosudov explains what this can teach us about how the brain evolves.

On whose green Earth?

Are we supposed to take care of the planet or should it take care of us? Willis Jenkins explains how religion shapes the conflicting views over climate change and other environmental issues.

Getting “exhausted” T cells back into action against cancer

When a malignancy or chronic infection sets in, a kind of immune combat fatigue can follow. Finding ways to recharge immune cells can restore their ability to fight deadly diseases, says immunologist John Wherry.