If comparative studies of the human brain have a mantra, it might be “size matters.” And indeed, our brain’s remarkable size explains many of the unique behaviors and capabilities of our species. Yet Chet Sherwood, who has spent his career studying primate brain evolution, wants to find answers to questions that size doesn’t explain.
New telescopes and space-based instruments and computational power have given astronomers ever better eyes on the sky field, driving the field forward into a true “multimessenger” age when a fuller, ever more detailed picture of the universe can be painted.
Twenty years ago, in November 1998, human embryonic stem (ES) cells were introduced to the world. Derived in a nondescript laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, the master cells of human development sparked immediate hope for an inexhaustible supply of cells for therapy to potentially treat conditions such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, heart disease, spinal cord injury, and other disorders.
Can the privacy of individual data truly be protected? When it comes to most of the personal information collected from Internet users, the answer at the moment may be no. And in the world of research data — health and social science studies — several proposed ways of protecting personal data have left individuals vulnerable to “re-identification” within data sets.
Akos Vertes is a chemist and inventor driven to understand how important biological processes work within individual living cells. How are novel chemical and biological weapons metabolized? How do plant-symbiotic bacteria, such as the rhizobia that infect the roots of soybeans, fix nitrogen from the air? What is the role of the microbiome in wound healing?
Hydroelectric power is widely accepted as a climate-sparing solution to burning fossil fuels. And under the Kyoto Protocol, developing countries can get "carbon credits" for building dams as a supposed path to clean energy development. But the construction of massive dams now under way in the vast Amazon region of Brazil, Philip Fearnside has shown, is likely to worsen rather than relieve climate change.
This spring, one of the most active volcanoes on our planet began a dramatic eruption. Fissures opened up beneath homes on the island of Hawai’i as Kilauea’s crater collapsed, releasing rivers of lava into the sea. Tourists were banished with warnings that “refrigerator-sized boulders” could fly into the air as the summit caldera deformed with explosions of debris and ash.
Of all the shipwrecks that have been pulled from the sea by archaeologists, only one, the São Jose, is a slave ship. And yet scholars have now documented more than 38,000 slave ship voyages, and at least 1,000 slave ships are known to lie beneath the seas.
Mary Ellsberg began international epidemiological studies documenting violence against women and girls as a public health problem more than three decades ago, and today her group is recognized by the World Health Organization as setting the standard for safe and ethical research on this sensitive topic.
The year ahead brings a series of golden anniversaries for Project Apollo, including Apollo 8's first round-the-moon mission in 1968 and the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. Now the moon is taking center stage once again in America's human spaceflight program, with Mars looming as a long-range goal. An all-star panel will reflect on the Apollo legacy and how our space odyssey will be different this time around.
The young but rapidly growing field of autism studies is generating a steady stream of fundamental questions about the development of brain connectivity before and after birth. Kevin Pelphrey is looking at some of these questions through new lenses.
Drawing on research from the Science of Science Communication project, Kathellen Hall Jamieson will share new content analyses of the ways in which the mainstream press makes sense of scientific discoveries in general and controversial science in particular. She will also reveal the results of experiments showing how various press narratives about science affect public trust in this way of knowing.
The Amazon biome includes more than 25% of the known plant and animal species on Earth and more than 60% of the remaining tropical forest. It is also home to 385 indigenous groups, as well as an estimated 100 uncontacted tribes. These communities are locked in land-rights struggles as the building of dams, roads, mines and oil wells continues, possibly pushing the Amazon to the brink of ecological collapse.
While the public closely watches how government leaders are responding to climate issues, away from the headlines the science of climate change is being litigated through lawsuits filed at the state and federal level. Industries are suing to block regulatory action, while public-interest groups are suing to force action. Sabrina McCormick analyzes this action to see how science is being wielded as a tool for action or dismissed by judges as unsettled or irrelevant. Can sea-level rise be claimed in a suit against a coal-fired power plant? She’ll provide an update on the legal waterfront.
Lisa Bowleg’s work takes her to urban neighborhoods where HIV continues to take a heavy toll among unemployed and/or unstably housed black men. In Washington, D.C., even as the epidemic eases elsewhere, more than 16,000 persons are living with HIV/AIDS.
Phthalates and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals are widespread in food packaging, cosmetics, personal care products, and even household dust, breast milk and drinking water. Ami Zota’s work has documented many of the pathways of exposure to these substances, which have been linked to cancer and developmental and reproductive disorders. Some of the linked health problems are markedly more severe among vulnerable populations, but it can be hard to tease out the role of environmental chemicals from among many health stressors.
The Council for the Advancement of Science Writing is committed to improving the quality and quantity of science news reaching the public. Directed and advised by distinguished journalists and scientists, CASW develops and funds programs that encourage accurate and informative writing about developments in science, technology, medicine and the environment.