Cross Sections

Our blog for breaking news and brisk analyses.

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.

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Trump recently veered away from the standard Republican position on Obamacare, suggesting that he wants it repealed but simultaneously replaced.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.

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.

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.

Great Lakes Hazard: Tiny Bits of Plastic

Microplastics — particles less than 5 mm in diameter — come from a variety of sources, whether broken down from larger plastic items or included as scrubbing agents in personal hygiene products. These tiny particles pose a threat to wildlife — and may make their way through the food chain to humans.