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  • Feature

    Nudging people to make good choices can backfire

    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...

    03/08/2017 - 08:00 Psychology, Science & Society
  • News

    Cancer studies get mixed grades on redo tests

    An effort to reproduce findings of five prominent cancer studies has produced a mixed bag of results.

    In a series of papers published January 19 in eLife, researchers from the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology report that none of five prominent cancer studies they sought to duplicate were completely reproducible. Replicators could not confirm any of the findings of one study. In...

    01/18/2017 - 16:42 Science & Society, Cancer
  • News

    Monitoring online groups offers insight into ISIS attacks

    Social media supporters of the Islamic State, or ISIS, form online groups that may provide clues crucial to predicting when terrorist attacks will take place, a new analysis finds.

    These virtual communities drive ISIS activity on a Facebook-like site called VKontakte, say physicist Neil Johnson of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla., and colleagues. VKontakte, a social...

    06/16/2016 - 14:21 Networks, Computing
  • Feature

    Gun research faces roadblocks and a dearth of data

    Buying a handgun in Connecticut means waiting — lots of waiting. First comes an eight-hour safety course. Then picking up an application at a local police department. Review of the application (which includes a background check and fingerprinting) can take up to eight weeks. If approved, the state issues a temporary permit, which the buyer trades in at state police headquarters for a permanent...

    05/03/2016 - 15:00 Science & Society, Mental Health, Health
  • Feature

    Year in review: Pluto unveiled as a world like no other

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    Mountains of water ice tower thousands of meters over fields of frozen nitrogen and methane. Glaciers etched with channels hint at heat bubbling up from below. A patchwork of new and old terrains — some laid down in the last 10 million years, some as old as the planet itself — blanket the ground. And what appear to be two ice volcanoes punch through the terrain.

    The...

    12/15/2015 - 07:05 Planetary Science
  • Feature

    Getting creative to cut methane from cows

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    In a pasture outside Edmonton, Canada, you’ll find a few dozen cows doing what cows do: mostly eating. The average animal spends eight-plus hours a day filling its belly, or as is the case with cows, bellies. Along with that enormous appetite, cows are born with the ability to digest almost any plant they can chew, thanks to a multichambered stomach and a helpful army of...

    11/18/2015 - 16:36 Animals, Microbes, Climate
  • Feature

    Rendezvous with Pluto

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    Tiny, far-flung Pluto is about to have a visitor — at least for a few hours.

    On July 14, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will reach the dwarf planet and try to learn all it can about Pluto and its five known moons. Then the probe will leave Pluto behind, vanishing into the frigid darkness beyond the planets.

    In its wake, New Horizons will introduce Earth to the...

    06/12/2015 - 11:55 Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • Feature

    Online causes may attract more clicks than commitments

    The Save Darfur Cause on Facebook had all the makings of a slam dunk cyber success. More than a million people joined the social media site’s digital movement a few years ago to save the people of Sudan’s Darfur region from mass slaughter.    

    There was a hitch in Facebook’s humanitarian giddy-up, though: The vast majority of people who enlisted in the Save Darfur Cause recruited no one...

    06/27/2014 - 14:04 Psychology, Networks, Science & Society
  • News

    Sun shines new life on Kepler space telescope

    Reports of Kepler’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

    NASA’s flagship planet hunter, which netted nearly 1,000 confirmed exoplanets during its four-year mission, is getting a second chance at life with a little help from the sun. The space agency has given the new mission, dubbed K2, the go-ahead to start observations at the end of May.

    Kepler was knocked out of commission last...

    05/23/2014 - 13:10 Exoplanets, Astronomy
  • Feature

    The long and winding Colorado

    Standing on a mesa high above the town of Rifle, Colo., Andres Aslan is having a hard time staying quiet. The lanky geologist from nearby Colorado Mesa University normally speaks in a low-key professorial drone. But here, looking down at a sprawling river valley blazing with autumnal cottonwoods, his enthusiasm cranks up his volume. “This could be it,” says Aslan, gesticulating wildly. “This...

    01/10/2014 - 14:00 Earth, Planetary Science