Variables

 
Reported features, essays, op-eds, columns, and reviews.

The Struggle of the Bighorn

A deadly bacteria, passed on from contact with domestic sheep, has been killing bighorns since the 19th century. Officials continue to scramble to stop its spread through large-scale killing of sick animals and enforced separations of domestic and wild herds. No one seems happy with these solutions.

Furry Animals, Fuzzy Science

Turning college team mascots into icons of wildlife conservation seems like a winning strategy, but there is surprisingly little science to suggest that it can really help to protect species — particularly those that are critically endangered. Still, a growing number of schools are giving it a go.

Up for Grabs

Donald Trump has denied allegations that he sexually assaulted women. But his recorded boasts about grabbing them — along with his response and that of his supporters to criticisms of such behavior — confirms research suggesting a profound lack of consensus in our culture about what sexual assault looks like.

Flying In, Flying Away

Melting ice means that bird species of the North Atlantic and North Pacific — separated for millennia by a frozen sea too large and bereft of food to cross — now have a passage between oceans. Their migrations suggest unprecedented shifts in the native ecosystem of the Chukchi Sea, and the globe.

Resurrecting the Heath Hen

While the concept of de-extinction has been debated for decades, scientists are inching closer to bringing back long-gone creatures like the wooly mammoth. But the heath hen — a smaller, less glamorous, and more recently extinct candidate — might be the first vanished species to be coaxed back to existence.

Five Questions for Amy Stewart

In this installment of the Undark Five, we asked Amy Stewart, the bestselling science author and this year’s editor of the “Best American Science Writing” book series, about what makes a story stand out, and about gender and diversity in science writing — and in society — a topic that she believes is crucial.

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.

‘What Could Have Happened?’ Unraveling a Death by Cyanide.

In her new book, “Death by Cyanide,” Paula Reed Ward, a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, describes the investigation and trial of Robert Ferrante, who was ultimately convicted of murdering his wife, Autumn Klein. In this excerpt, paramedics and hospital staff struggle to save Klein’s life.

The Invisible Women of Color

In a new analysis of the imagery found in introductory criminology textbooks, men and white people were found to be heavily over-represented. Men of color are the most likely to be portrayed as criminals, while most of the victims shown are white women. And all of this has changed little over 20 years.

Archaeologists Digging Into the Here and Now

The notion of using an archaeological approach to understanding and deciphering modern culture has been growing for some time, and it is devoted to the idea that discarded beer cans, shipping pallets, and other mundane, modern artifacts store a wealth of information that archaeologists can help to unlock.

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 .

Five Questions for Harold Varmus

For this installment of the Undark Five, we asked Harold Varmus, an informal adviser to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, to answer questions about the 2016 election, his experience as a political adviser, and the difficulties inherent in communicating how science works to both politicians and the public.

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