Bugs for dinner!

Bugs for dinner!
What about farming insects? 2 billion people eat insects, and more should be, according to the UN. As the planet searches for protein sources that are easy on the environment, are you ready for a 6-legged solution? More »

Social network, Indian edition

Social network, Indian edition
A massive study looks at how ideas pass through social networks in 43 Indian villages, then offers a new definition of “well connected.” It’s not how many people you know — it’s who they are. More »

Mining data

Mining data
As the government collects security data, science is dealing with massive amounts of data in genetics, astronomy, meteorology and social science. What are the drawbacks of a data glut? More »

Giving the ultimate gift

Giving the ultimate gift

Listing your Facebook status as “organ donor” seems to induce friends to sign up at organ registries. A new study finds a strong quick surge in sign-ups that lasted a couple of weeks. Can social media serve social purposes? More »

Lying liars lie!

Lying liars lie!

We lie for many reasons: Glory. Money. Both. Something else. Is there a science of detecting lies? Does the digital realm make lying harder? Easier? Both? More »

Flying robots

small robotic, red and white plane on surface of water

Compared to regular airplanes, radio-controlled craft are safer, cheaper, and easier to use for observing wildlife and environmental conditions. Where are these robots being used? What are they finding? And as prices continue to fall, what stands in the way of much broader use? More »

Holiday blue? NOT!

Holiday blue? NOT!

Sick of the scare stories about holiday stress? Over-eating, over-this, over-that? What’s the upside of holidays, in terms of ritual and getting together with family and friends? What’s more conducive to happiness: giving or receiving? More »

Flu vaccine

Detail from schematic diagram

Classroom Activity Page: Each year, as influenza season approaches, medical authorities must scramble to predict which strains of flu will be most important, and then grow enough vaccine to inoculate the population. Why does this take so much time, and what are some alternative strategies that might speed the process? More »

Soil: Key to solving the food crisis?

Soil: Key to solving the food crisis?

Could soil help? One-third of soils are degraded. In fighting desertification, erosion and nutrient loss, some soil-restoring techniques solve multiple problems. More »

Social Network

Social Network
If you were to draw lines representing your social connections to all your friends, your friends’ friends, and your friends’ friends’ friends, what would it look like? For Jeffrey Heer of the University of California, Berkeley, it looks like a… More »

Welcome to The Why Files

Our Mission The mission of The Why Files is to explore the science, math and technology behind the news of the day, and to present those topics in a clear, accessible and accurate manner. We are based at the University… More »