Jane Roberts

Five Questions for Mitchell Valdés-Sosa

In this installment of the Undark Five, Mitchell Valdés-Sosa, director of the Cuban Neuroscience Center, discusses how academia and scientific research operate in communist Cuba, the country’s need for outside funding, and the possible challenges that will come with the arrival of the Trump Administration.

Just Warming Up

Scientists say the stakes for climate research have never been higher. But by questioning employees of the Department of Energy and installing climate skeptics and fossil fuel executives to lead the EPA and serve as Secretary of State, Donald Trump’s administration is gearing up to rally against it.

A Dubious Golden Elixir

In parts of India, where cows are revered, their urine is thought to have healing powers. Studies investigating these claims come mainly from Indian researchers and their work is rarely published in Western journals. But scrutiny must come from outside this cultural context for the science to hold up.

How to Beat a Fingerprint Scanner

A delicate 3D-printed skin that slips over a user’s hand has been shown to trick fingerprint scanners. Although this technology could potentially be used to breach security systems, the presence of human safeguards in many systems provides a barrier to those looking to use it for criminal activity.

Undark Podcast #9: The Flint Water Crisis

Join our podcast host David Corcoran as he discusses Undark’s recent deep dive into the continuing problems with water in Flint, Michigan — and around the country — with Steve Friess. Also: journalism in the age of Trump and how public opinion is formed about genetically modified organisms.

In Antarctica’s Shallows, a Climate Paradox

Less than 160 feet below the surface of Antarctica’s frigid coastal waters, the seafloor teems with life. That life — from sea worms to colonial creatures called bryozoans — has the potential to slow climate change a bit, if only icebergs would stop snuffing it out. Then again, that would have downsides too.

Undark Podcast #8: Worse Than the Disease

Reporter David Tuller discusses a therapy prescribed for chronic fatigue syndrome — one for which supporting research is now unraveling. Also, Undark’s Tracker columnist Seth Mnookin on a rift within the National Association of Science Writers, and reporter Jeff Emtman on flesh-eating beetles.

NASW Has Changed. Its Leadership Policy Should Too.

This weekend, members of the National Association of Science Writers will confront a fundamental question: Are we, in fact, a national association of science writers, as our name and diverse membership imply, or are we a national association of science journalists, as many among our ranks suggest?

Mind, Body, or Both? The Experience of Gender Identity.

Some people have argued for an innate, biological basis for gender, whether it is physiological, neuroanatomical or hormonal. Others say it’s purely a product of the way we’re socialized, and that we learn to be masculine or feminine. But in many important ways, it appears that both can be true.

Undark Podcast #7: Bombturbation & More

Join our podcast host and former NYT Science Times editor David Corcoran as he talks with writer Karen Coates about how U.S. bombing permanently altered the landscape in Southeast Asia. Also: Undark’s Tracker columnist, Seth Mnookin on Patient H.M., and reporter James Perla on a rare bat in Costa Rica.

Europe’s Flawed Race for Scientific Research Funding

The European Research Council’s stated mission is to encourage “the risky venture” of frontier research by supporting “investigator-driven” approaches through competitive funding. In reality, the organization’s grant approval process favors well-known institutions and less than-groundbreaking research .

Wanted: Fish Food That Isn’t Fish

Although the majority of the fish we eat comes from farms, wild stocks are still declining, as small “forage” fish are caught and used to feed farmed seafood. A contest now underway hopes to steer the industry in a more sustainable direction, challenging companies to develop fish-free fish food.

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