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Q&A

Indigenous languages are founts of environmental knowledge

Peoples who live close to nature have a rich lore of plants, animals and landscapes embedded in their mother tongues — which may hold vital clues to protecting biodiversity

How shade coffee lends conservation a hand

When managed in the right way, the farms that provide our morning brew can be a refuge for plant and animal biodiversity

The growing link between microbes, mood and mental health

New research suggests that to maintain a healthy brain, we should tend our gut microbiome. The best way to do that right now is not through pills and supplements, but better food.

Central American volcanoes offer clues to Earth’s geological evolution

Along 1,100 kilometers, from Mexico to Costa Rica, lies the Central American volcanic arc, where the variety of magma types make for a geological paradise

The race to understand polar ice sheets

As glacial cliffs break off and destabilize frozen landscapes, glaciologist Richard Alley focuses on the fractures. The work could improve predictions about future sea-level rise.

The remaining frontiers in fighting hepatitis C

A scientist whose work was key to identifying, studying and finding treatments for this life-threatening virus discusses the scientific journey and challenges that persist

Does it work to pay people not to cut the forest?

Evidence that the approach helps to save trees, preserve ecosystems and reduce carbon emissions is often hard to come by. But it can succeed if it’s done right, says an economist.

The knotty economics of student loan debt

People in the US owe a whopping $1.7 trillion for higher education. An economist weighs in on how to deal with the ballooning college tab.

The ‘least crazy’ idea: Early dark energy could solve a cosmological conundrum

Measurements of the acceleration of the universe don’t agree, stumping physicists working to understand the cosmic past and future. A new proposal seeks to better align these estimates — and is likely testable.

To help birds and insects, cultivate native gardens

Entomologist Doug Tallamy explains how filling our yards with local plants can provide our feathered friends with a caterpillar buffet

Can probiotics protect corals from problems like bleaching?

Lab experiments suggest that a dose of carefully selected microbes may boost the health of these reef-building creatures and their symbiotic algae

Natural pest control: Plants enlist their enemies’ enemies

These stealthy survival tactics could teach us how to curb the widespread use of chemical pesticides in agriculture. But first, researchers must learn how seemingly helpless flora deploy this masterful strategy.

Is this ‘age of the delta’ coming to an end?

The wet landmasses, though inherently impermanent, have been essential to both people and wildlife for thousands of years. But recent shifts have brought on some rapid losses that worry scientists.

After Covid-19, can mRNA vaccines help with cancer as well?

The pandemic put the technology, long in development, to the test. Here’s a look at the status of its application to cancer and when it might reach patients.

Like hungry locusts, humans can easily be tricked into overeating

Our bodies crave more food if we haven’t had enough protein, and this can lead to a vicious cycle — especially if we’re reaching for ultraprocessed instead of high-fiber whole foods

Understanding carjacking

Criminologist Bruce Jacobs has spoken to carjackers in detail about their crimes. Here’s what he’s learned in two decades of study.

Teens can have excellent executive function — just not all the time

Adolescents’ brains are highly capable, if inconsistent, during this critical age of exploration and development. They are also acutely tuned into rewards.

When criminals rule the land

In Latin America, tens of millions of people live in territories that are governed by outlaws — from powerful drug cartels to crime syndicates. What can be done to restore legitimate law and order?

Not enough fish in the sea

The scientist who found a way to tally up global catches is an ocean advocate and a vocal critic of industrial fisheries. Now we have a treaty for the high seas — but does it go far enough?

Controlled burns won’t save all of California from wildfire

There are two types of wildfire in the state, and they’re on the rise for different reasons. Each needs a distinct management approach, a researcher says.

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