Cross Sections


Undark’s home for breaking news, brisk analysis, and reader discussions at the intersection of science and society.

Abstracts: EPA, Embryos, Organs, and More

President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts for the EPA would eliminate 3,000 jobs and reduce the agency’s budget by $2 billion. A scientist is pushing the biological and ethical limits on the days a human embryo can be kept alive in a lab. Read these stories and more in our twice-weekly news roundup.

Global Warming: Why Can’t We Get Along?

Liberal and conservative Americans are uniquely divided on virtually every aspect of climate change, and bridging the intellectual gulf has so far proven difficult. One first step might simply involve a willingness to understand the underlying values that animate different beliefs on the issue.

Undark Podcast #12: Wear and Tear

Journalists Larry and Debbie Price look at the migration and evolution of the leather tanning and textile industries. Also, Seth Mnookin discusses coverage of science in the era of Donald Trump and “fake news,” and Alicia Puglionesi takes a look at the science of hospital food at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Scientists Work on Public Trust

Concerns about the disconnect between scientists and non-scientists, as well as political assaults on science and rejections of evidence by policy-makers, are inspiring researchers to up their game with new instructional techniques that prove effective, emotion-grabbing storytelling skills and even protests

Abstracts: Disappearing Karst, Crispr, and More

Scientists are racing to document rare plant and animal species before the karst cliffs of Cambodia are turned into cement. A new species of mouse uses sound waves to navigate, suggesting that bats evolved echolocation before flight. Read these stories and more in our twice-weekly news roundup.

Abstracts: Dakota Access, Science March, and More

A federal judge rejected two tribes’ efforts to stop the final stage of construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline. The March for Science is scheduled to take place on April 22 in Washington, D.C. and over 100 other cities around the world. Read these stories and more in our twice-weekly news roundup.

Coal Dust Darkens the Climate Picture

As coal mining is likely to become less regulated under President Trump, scientists are looking for ways to better measure the impact of the resulting coal dust on the climate. Near one mine in the Arctic, researchers found coal dust reduced snow’s reflectivity by up to 84 percent, contributing to warming.

Undark Podcast #11: Bullet Proof

Reporter Lynne Peeples discusses the health and environmental risks posed by the use of lead bullets — and the reasons they’re still so widely used. Also, Seth Mnookin on the anti-vaccine movement and storyteller Hillary Rea on what it’s like to be a standardized patient for medical students.

High Schoolers Have High Hopes for Saving Corals

Climate change, illegal harvesting, coastal development, destructive fishing practices, and ocean pollution have been driving the world’s wild coral populations to the brink. But a high school science class on Long Island is hoping their captive-grown corals might one day help to address the problem.

Issue of Choice Dogs Obamacare Opponents

Opponents of Obamacare often claim that its repeal will expand consumers’ choices surrounding health care and insurance decisions. But dismissals of all the ACA mechanisms that aid private insurers has boxed in politicians casting about for a plan to replace the law. The outcomes could box in consumers too.

Trump Warms to Health Insurance for All

President-elect Trump recently veered away from the standard Republican position on Obamacare, suggesting that he wants it repealed but simultaneously replaced. Still, his goals range from coverage for the neediest to coverage for all, and a new plan for funding quality health care remains unclear.