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Quick Studies


How to Water a Farm in Sandy Ground

Physicists investigate how to grow food more efficiently in fine-grained soil.



Can Science Fiction Spur Science Innovation?

Without proper funding, the answer might not even matter.



The Latest—and Most Mysterious—Player in the Nasty Battle Over Net Neutrality

As the FCC considers how to regulate Internet providers, the telecom industry’s stealth campaign for hearts and minds encompasses everything from art installations to LOLcats.

Placebo Week


How Cosmetic Companies Get Away With Pseudoscience

Anti-aging creams make absurd claims that they repair DNA damage or use stem-cell treatments. When cosmetics companies and dermatologists partner to maximize profits, who is responsible for protecting the consumer?

Our Machine Overlords


‘Looking’ at Art in the Smartphone Age

Technology is a great way to activate gallery space, but it shouldn’t take it over.

In the Classroom


The Battle Over High School Animal Dissection

Is the biology class tradition a useful rite of passage or a schoolroom relic?



Green Surroundings Linked to Higher Student Test Scores

New research on Massachusetts schoolchildren finds a tangible benefit to regular exposure to nature.

Burgh Diaspora


Tech Company Wagons Ho! Geography of the Urban Land Rush

Are technology companies willing to spend more for expensive urban real estate in order to attract cheaper talent?

Placebo Week


Little Lies Push an Athlete’s Limits

How far can you run or bike? For athletes, a little benign deception and positive thinking can trump body science.

Our Best Friends


Can Dogs, Cats, and Cows Predict Earthquakes?

A study out of Japan earlier this year surveyed pet owners about strange behaviors demonstrated before the magnitude 9 earthquake in 2011.



A Case for ‘Believing’ in Mercury Retrograde

Sure, why not?

Go Outside


The End of Stars

Soon, some scientists say, we’ll only be able to see the Milky Way in five different states.

Quick Studies


Twitter’s No Beacon of Democracy, But It’s Better Than Expected

It’s pretty bad, but it’s less status-conscious and less insult-prone than you’d think.



How Much of Your Sensitive Personal Information Would You Trade for a Free Cookie?

An artist tests whether New Yorkers will give away their mother’s maiden name or part of their Social Security number for a homemade cookie.

The World Wide Web


How Facebook’s Shifting ‘Real Names’ Policy Threatens Free Expression

A transgender activist, an Egyptian blogger, and a porn star explain the crucial identities connected to names they weren’t born with.

Go Outside


Have Humans Created a New Geological Era?

Welcome to the Anthropocene.

Our Best Friends


How Do We Know Our Environmental Laws Are Working?

Ask a great white shark.

Your Money


Would You Like a Subscription With Your Coffee?

A new app hopes to unite local coffee shops while helping you find a cheap cup of good coffee.

Go Outside


How to Plant a Library

Somewhere outside of Oslo, there are 1,000 newly planted spruce trees. One hundred years from now, if everything goes to plan, they’ll be published together as 100 pieces of art.

The World Wide Web


The Medium Is the Message, 50 Years Later

Five decades on, what can Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media tell us about today?



Fast Track to a Spill?

Oil pipeline projects across America are speeding forward without environmental review.

Genes Are Us


Sonic Hedgehog, DICER, and the Problem With Naming Genes

Wait, why is there a Pokemon gene?



Forging a New Path: Working to Build the Perfect Wildlife Corridor

When it comes to designing wildlife corridors, our most brilliant analytical minds are still no match for Mother Nature. But we’re getting there.



A Brief History of the Loch Ness Monster

From 1933—and possibly much, much earlier—to just this past May, people have been claiming (and staging) sightings of the famed water cryptid.

Quick Studies


On the Hunt for Fake Facebook Likes

A new study finds ways to uncover Facebook Like farms.

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How to Water a Farm in Sandy Ground

Physicists investigate how to grow food more efficiently in fine-grained soil.

Unlocking Consciousness

A study of vegetative patients closes in on the nature of consciousness.

Advice for Emergency Alert Systems: Don’t Cry Wolf

A survey finds college students don't always take alerts seriously.

Brain’s Reward Center Does More Than Manage Rewards

Nucleus accumbens tracks many different connections in the world, a new rat study suggests.

A City’s Fingerprints Lie in Its Streets and Alleyways

Researchers propose another way to analyze the character and evolution of cities.

The Big One

One company, Amazon, controls 67 percent of the e-book market in the United States—down from 90 percent five years ago. September/October 2014 new-big-one-5

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