Americans don’t hate science. Quite the contrary. In fact, 79 percent of Americans think science has made their lives easier, a 2014 Pew Research Center survey found. More than 60 percent of people also believe that government funding for science is essential to its success.
But should the United States spend more money on scientific research than it already does? A layperson’s answer to...
In the second half of the 17th century, the chemist and polymath Robert Boyle and philosopher Thomas Hobbes engaged in a divisive debate centered on a temperamental, mechanical contraption known as an air pump. In a series of famous experiments, Boyle used the air pump, which has been called “the cyclotron of its age,” to test basic scientific principles such as the relationship between a gas’...
View slideshow of other winners
This rainbow pinwheel of mouse placentas isn’t just an eye-catching, award-winning image. The differences in color also provide researchers with new clues to how a mother’s immune system may affect her or her baby’s health during pregnancy. The work could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of preeclampsia, a common pregnancy complication.
Huge cuts could be in store for federal science spending if President Donald Trump’s vision for fiscal year 2018 becomes reality.
Although details are skimpy, Trump’s $1.15 trillion budget proposal, released March 16, would make national security the top priority. The budget blueprint calls for a $54 billion increase in defense spending for 2018, offset by an equally big reduction in...
Some bedbugs are better climbers than others, and the bloodsuckers’ climbing prowess has practical implications.
To detect and monitor bedbugs, people use an array of strategies from DIY setups to dogs. Pitfall traps, which rely on smooth inner walls to prevent escape, are highly effective for detecting and monitoring an infestation. The traps are sold around the world, but they have...
Science & the Public
Here’s one good reason why people often take medications and use health products that don’t live up to expectations or just don’t work — digital word of mouth.
The reviews can be glowing. Take this scuttlebutt about a cholesterol treatment: “I have been using this product for 2 years. Within the first 3 – 4 months my cholesterol was down 30 points. Just got cholesterol tested last week:...
The “nudge” may have been formalized in a 2008 book, but I’d bet that the core concept — simple strategies for influencing other people’s decisions — dates back at least to the rise of human language. It wouldn’t surprise me if early hunter-gatherers on African savannas relied on some strategies of persuasion to convince, for example, other members of the group to help hunt for food. These...
Science & the Public
Big data is everywhere these days and police departments are no exception. As law enforcement agencies are tasked with doing more with less, many are using predictive policing tools. These tools feed various data into algorithms to flag people likely to be involved with future crimes or to predict where crimes will occur.
In the years since Time magazine named predictive policing as one...
Nudges are a growth industry. Inspired by a popular line of psychological research and introduced in a best-selling book a decade ago, these inexpensive behavior changers are currently on a roll.
Policy makers throughout the world, guided by behavioral scientists, are devising ways to steer people toward decisions deemed to be in their best interests. These simple interventions don’t...
Reviews & Previews
The Death and Life of the Great LakesDan EganW.W. Norton & Co., $27.95
Every summer, people flock to the Great Lakes to swim and fish in the seemingly infinite waters and hike along the idyllic shores. But an ominous undercurrent flows just out of sight. Below the water’s surface rages an environmental catastrophe 200 years in the making.
In The Death and Life of the Great...