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A History Recalled, One Symbol at a Time

(This post originally appeared in the online anthropology magazine SAPIENS. Follow @SAPIENS_org on Twitter to discover more of their work.)  Time.

Lacking Funding and Data, Gun Policy Researchers Soldier On

Every year, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control allocate more than $35 billion to researchers to study diseases, treatments and public health.

British Squirrels Are Suffering from Leprosy

For many people, leprosy brings to mind Biblical stories of diseased people cast out from society. It’s a condition that today is largely found in developing countries, whereas in other, mostly Western nations it’s a pestilence of the past that was eradicated decades ago.

Outsmarting the Art of Camouflage

When the American painter Abbott H. Thayer published his book Concealing-Coloration in the Animal Kingdom in 1909, he put forth the hypothesis that animals’ colors served one function and one function only: to camouflage.

Is It Time for Medicine to Ditch Lab Mice?

"Cancer has been cured a thousand times." So says Christopher Austin, the director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health.

Sherlock Holmes, Spirit Hunting and a Great Hoax

Back in August, it seemed that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was cleared of playing any role in one of the greatest hoaxes in scientific history.

Ever Feel Like You're Being Watched?

You’ve felt it at one time or another. You’re standing on a crowded train platform, or in the park, and suddenly, your alertness spikes: you’re being watched.

Could a Corpse Seed Life on Another Planet?

One day, it's bound to happen. An astronaut dies in space. Maybe the death occurred en route to Mars.

Wanted: Stem Cell Super Donors

Our bodies’ cells didn’t evolve to flourish in a petri dish. Even fast-growing skin cells stop dividing and turn thin and ragged after a few weeks outside the body.

Can Science Save the Banana?

The banana is the world’s most popular fruit crop, with over 100 million metric tons produced annually in over 130 tropical and subtropical countries.

Why Our 'Procrastinating' Brains Still Outperform Computers

Automated financial trading machines can make complex decisions in a thousandth of a second. A human being making a choice – however simple – can never be faster than about one-fifth of a second.

In Pursuit of the 'Cosmopolitan Chicken'

Let us consider the humble chicken. Or, rather, consider a world without them. Gone are breakfast burritos at Sunday morning brunch, wings at your next tailgate, half the menu at an Italian restaurant, your grandma's precious soup recipe and nearly every fast-food chain out there.

5 Ways Yeast Will Help Save Lives

Try to imagine life without yeast. It’s kind of a bummer. The single-celled fungi are the leavening agents that gave rise to sourdoughs, ciabattas and chewy pizza crusts.

Flesh-Eating Bacteria Like It Hot

It’s spring, and I’m attending a luxurious seafood banquet. Platters of shellfish fill the tables: crab with limbs akimbo; shrimp ready to be peeled; miniature lobster-like langostino peering at my dinner plate as if knowing their fate.

When Did Sex Become Fun?

(This post originally appeared in the online anthropology magazine SAPIENS. Follow @SAPIENS_org on Twitter to discover more of their work.)  There are multiple answers to the question of where we come from: early hominins, monkeys, primordial goo, or the Big Bang, to name a few.

17th-century Ruins Could Unravel Mysteries of Earth’s Magnetic Field

It seems safe to say that the laborers firing clay pavers, bricks and tiles to build the Jesuit mission of Santo Ângelo over 300 years ago had no idea that their toils might someday bear relevance to spacecraft orbiting 600 miles above what is now southern Brazil.

The Arrow of Time? It's All in Our Heads

Have you ever wondered why we age and grow old? In the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” Brad Pitt springs into being as an elderly man and ages in reverse.  To the bafflement of scientists, the fundamental laws of physics have no preference for a direction in time, and work just as well for events going forward or going backward in time.  Yet, in the real world, coffee cools and cars break down.

Can a Smartphone App Help Save a Dying Language?

(This post originally appeared in the online anthropology magazine SAPIENS. Follow @SAPIENS_org on Twitter to discover more of their work.)  Joshua Hinson’s first biological son was born in 2000.

Police Lineups: The Science of Getting It Right

One night in 1984, a man broke into Jennifer Thompson’s apartment and raped her at knifepoint. Throughout the attack, the college student memorized every detail of her rapist’s face, promising herself that when she took the witness stand against him, “he was going to rot” in prison.

'It's Just Too Perfect': Inside the First Gravitational Wave Detection

A year ago today, a select group of scientists became the first people on the planet to learn that, after a century of theory and experiments, Albert Einstein was right all along.


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