How green are biofuels? Scientists are at loggerheads

Replacing gasoline with ethanol has changed landscapes across the globe as grasslands and forests give way to cornfields. Researchers are deeply divided over what this means for the planet. Here's the science behind the conflict.

How to fight Covid with light

Some wavelengths of light in a range called far-UVC kill microbes in experiments and appear to be harmless to people. Could they be used to make indoor spaces safer against the coronavirus?

Our ancestors ate a Paleo diet. It had carbs.

There is no one prehistoric meal plan. A modern hunter-gatherer group known as the Hadza has taught researchers surprising things about the highly variable menu consumed by humans past.

What will it take to recycle millions of worn-out EV batteries?

In Nevada and other US states, entrepreneurs are anticipating the coming boom in retired lithium-ion batteries from electric cars and hoping to create a market for recycled minerals

Rethinking insurance for floods, wildfires and other catastrophes

The industry is in crisis just when disaster coverage is most needed

There are more active volcanoes than you think

OPINION: Volcanologists warn that magma-filled vents evolve over time, leading to an underestimation of the number that might erupt — especially those capable of the biggest explosions

She saw the obesity epidemic coming. Then an unexpected finding mired her in controversy.

Katherine Flegal was a scientist who found herself crunching numbers for the government, until one day her analyses set off a firestorm. What does she make of her decades as a woman in public health research?

The science of a wandering mind

More than just a distraction, mind-wandering (and its cousin, daydreaming) may help us prepare for the future

Insuring our uncertain future

EVENT: Is the disaster insurance industry hurtling toward a climate crisis? Learn how we can shore up programs that buffer the financial devastation that follows floods, fires and hurricanes — and help individuals and communities strengthen their climate resilience.

The US abortion decision is already having global impacts

OPINION: The reversal of Roe v. Wade is a tragedy not just for the United States, but for women everywhere

How a giant eagle came to dominate ancient New Zealand

Before the formidable bird went extinct, scientists say, it likely hunted the islands’ flightless moa. Now evidence suggests the eagle was part of a wave of feathered invaders, and its story holds lessons for today and the future.

A treasure hunt for microbes in Chile’s Atacama desert

The famously dry region has long been dismissed as a mostly lifeless wasteland, good for little more than mining of minerals and precious metals. To these researchers, however, it’s a microbial gold mine worthy of protection.

Making computer chips act more like brain cells

Flexible organic circuits that mimic biological neurons could increase processing speed and might someday hook right into your head

How much meat can we eat — sustainably?

Scientists find that a small amount of animal products could have a place in our diets without wreaking environmental havoc. But it’s far less than what we consume today, and only if farmed in just the right way.

Russia is guilty of ecocide

OPINION: All perpetrators of environmental destruction should be held accountable

Doing away with cash bail

In the US, people charged with a crime usually need to post a large cash bond to be released before trial — a system used barely anywhere else in the world. This doesn’t enhance public safety and causes great hardship to defendants and families. There’s a better way, researchers say.

The importance of understanding wildlife sex

OPINION: If we’re truly serious about protecting animal species from extinction, we should learn more about how they reproduce

Cultural transmission makes animals flexible, but vulnerable

From monkeys washing potatoes to cockatoos raiding trash cans, socially spread behaviors allow creatures to adapt more rapidly to changing environments than conventional evolution would allow. But the traits are also more easily lost.

Inside the brains of aging dogs

In a citizen science project, thousands of pet dogs are helping scientists to understand what happens to memory and cognition in old age

How sustainable are fake meats?

Marketed to meat lovers, plant-based burgers like Impossible and Beyond claim to taste like the real thing and to have far lighter environmental footprints. Here’s what the numbers have to say.

The lasting anguish of moral injury

Psychologists are finding that moral code violations can leave an enduring mark — and may require new types of therapy