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Q&A

What makes for a ‘great’ sex life?

Research into intimacy upends many popular notions about sexual fulfillment. One hint: It’s more about connection than technique.

Can cosmology untangle the universe’s most elusive mysteries?

From the Big Bang to dark energy, knowledge of the cosmos has sped up in the past century — but big questions linger

Navigating the ethics of ancient human DNA research

Paleogenomic research has expanded rapidly over the past two decades, igniting heated debate about handling remains. Who gives consent for study participants long gone — and who should speak for them today?

AI for better crops

The technology could transform how growers protect their harvests, by detecting plant diseases very early on. But the challenge is to develop tools that are as affordable as they are effective.

Mistletoes in a warming world

Can the famous parasitic plants help animals to survive climate change, or will they be killed off by extreme weather?

Color is in the eye, and brain, of the beholder

The way we see and describe hues varies widely for many reasons: from our individual eye structure, to how our brain processes images, to what language we speak, or even if we live near a body of water 

What can cities do to survive extreme heat?

Urban heat waves are getting worse, but better data and timely government action could make them less deadly

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.

Rethinking insurance for floods, wildfires and other catastrophes

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

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

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.

An archaeological look at modern refugees

The techniques of archaeology, usually used to study the past, also illuminate the experiences of today’s displaced people

Inside the adolescent brain

This challenging phase of life may get a bad rap, but it’s also full of opportunity. A developmental neuroscientist shares what she’s learned from studies on young people’s risk-taking behavior, reasoning and more.

Making microbots smart

What would it take to create a truly intelligent microbot, one that can operate independently? A roboticist describes the fascinating minutiae and the medical jobs these tiny machines could do for us.

How cities can fight climate change

Urban activities — think construction, transportation, heating, cooling and more — are major sources of greenhouse-gas emissions. Today, a growing number of cities are striving to slash their emission to net zero — here’s what they need to do.

Mining museums’ genomic treasures

The world’s natural history collections hold billions of biological specimens, many of which still contain DNA. Scientists exploring these genetic repositories are gaining new, historical perspectives on how animals evolve.

Mapping the brain to understand the mind

New technology is enabling neuroscientists to make increasingly detailed wiring diagrams that could yield new insights into brain function

Vaccinating the world against Covid-19

Lower-income countries haven’t gotten an equal share of lifesaving coronavirus vaccines. Older, more familiar vaccine technologies may hold the key to more equitable use, says Maria Elena Bottazzi.

Rethinking air conditioning amid climate change

ACs and refrigerators help keep people safe — but they also further warm the planet. Scientists are working on eco-friendlier solutions as global demand for cooling grows.

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