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Can democracy survive without a middle class?

Preserving the middle-class in America is necessary for the United States to continue as a democracy, warns Ganesh Sitaraman.

Drugs for Zika could target this protein

Researchers have mapped a key protein that causes Zika virus to reproduce and spread. The work could speed the path to new treatments for the infectious disease.

How ‘hearts and minds’ strategy endangers Afghan civilians

Winning the “hearts and minds” of Afghan civilians is a key component of the United States’ strategy in Afghanistan, where war continues to rage more than 16 years after NATO-backed forces knocked the Taliban from power.

Graphene tested as tiny ‘coolers’ for computer chips

Graphene could offer a new way to cool tiny chips in phones, computers, and other gadgets. “You can fit graphene, a very thin, two-dimensional material that can be miniaturized, to cool a hot spot that creates heating problems in your chip,” says Eva Y.

Did fruit, not friends, give us big brains?

Diet, not social life, may be the driver of brain size evolution, a new study suggests. The findings call into question “the social brain hypothesis,” which argues that humans and other primates are big-brained because of their sociality.

Grains on Titan would cling to a spacecraft ‘like packing peanuts’

Particles that cover the surface of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, are electrically charged and can get clingy—much like packing peanuts cling to things on Earth.

Snow protects tree roots as they ‘pump’ silica

Among ecologists, carbon gets all the glory. Humble silicon, or “silica,” as it’s called when combined with oxygen, doesn’t get the same attention.

Brain scan may predict best depression treatment

Specific patterns of activity on brain scans may help clinicians identify whether psychotherapy or antidepressant medication is more likely to help a patient recover from depression.

Lego robot squirts liquids in DIY lab for kids

A new set of liquid-handling robots—made from the Lego Mindstorms robotics kit and a cheap, easy-to-find syringe—can transfer precise amounts of fluids among flasks, test tubes, and experimental dishes.

Did a collision leave Earth with its iron anomaly?

Scientists are challenging the prevailing theory that the unique nature of Earth’s iron was the result of how its core formed billions of years ago.

Unknown features of liquid crystals could improve screens

Liquid crystals are used in everything from tiny digital watches to huge television screens, from optical devices to biomedical detectors.

Sugar rush could be deadly with this heart condition

One out of every 2,000 people suffers from long QT syndrome, which can lead to heart failure. For these people, too much sugar may be dangerous, research shows.

Treatment extends lives of patients with glioblastomas

Being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor is devastating news for patients and their loved ones. While some types of tumor respond well to treatment, others such as glioblastomas—the most common and aggressive brain tumors—recur and progress within short times from the diagnosis.

Anxiety can even stymie math whizzes

Even students who perform extremely well on math exams can suffer from anxiety. And the better a student does at math, the more strongly anxiety will drag his or her performance down, new research shows.

Climate change may worsen China’s winter haze

Consequences of global climate change—loss of Arctic sea ice and increased Eurasian snowfall—may make China’s severe winter air pollution problems worse.

Custom microscope zooms in on live synapses

A custom-built microscope is giving scientists the closest view yet of living nerve synapses. The brain hosts an extraordinarily complex network of interconnected nerve cells that are constantly exchanging electrical and chemical signals at speeds difficult to comprehend.

How a very dry desert ‘recycles’ fog and dew

The ocean isn’t the sole source of life-sustaining fog and dew for the Namib Desert’s numerous plants and animals, report researchers.

DNA ‘typos’ may cause 66% of cancer mutations

Random, unpredictable DNA copying mistakes account for nearly two-thirds of the genetic changes that cause cancer—far more mutations than those triggered by heredity or by environmental factors like smoking or pollution, a study finds.

Tired people struggle to detect certain emotions

Although sleepy people had trouble interpreting happiness and sadness in a recent study, they had no problem doing so with other emotions—anger, fear, surprise, and disgust.

Dental trouble tied to malnutrition among some seniors

Food scarcity and poor oral health are the major causes that lead older adults suffering from malnutrition—and who are already at high risk of functional decline, decreased quality of life, and increased mortality—to land in the emergency department.