In the newsroom, any story about a new scientific method faces an uphill battle. Editors are likely to reject such a story; writers themselves often downplay these stories because they’ve learned that the answer is usually “no.” To those of us who follow science, how scientists do what they do becomes important, and thus worth writing about, only once a new method reveals a novel truth about nature. We are after the “what,” not necessarily the “how” (although we always make a point to summarize how a discovery is made).
In this issue, hidden in plain sight, are a number of stories that feature in one way or another new — or newly applied — methods, what the tools reveal about the world and, perhaps even more interesting to watchers of human nature, the many aftershocks new tools can create.
The study of fungal forms, for example, is an old science. But genetic tools have enabled new, more