Seeds of dilemma: Who owns the genes that fill the stomach?

Seeds of dilemma: Who owns the genes that fill the stomach?
Some seed corn is covered by 30 patents. Three firms dominate corn and soybean seed producers, and patents are moving faster into smaller crops. Can the open-source software movement guide us toward an alternative way to breed and sell seed? More »

Lies and liars: Can you catch them?

Lies and liars: Can you catch them?
Was Pistorius lying? Liars challenge our law, economy and society. If you want to catch a liar, you might as well flip a coin. Why are liars so hard to catch? Is there anything on the horizon to make lying more difficult? More »

Fundamental facial expressions: are there really 21?

Fundamental facial expressions: are there really 21?
How about sadly disgusted? Fearfully angry or fearfully surprised? We’re happily surprised to see that these categories seem burned into the human psyche. When volunteers are asked to make a “disgustedly surprised” face, they all look pretty much alike. How come? More »

College admission conundrum?

College admission conundrum?
Critics carp about college entrance exams and point to data showing that high-school grades better predict success. How do the “non-submitters” actually do at colleges that have quit requiring the tests? More »

Poverty on the mind: Bad decisions ahead?

Poverty on the mind: Bad decisions ahead?
Whether in a U.S. shopping mall or Indian farm country, cognitive load — the burden of thinking about getting enough money to pay the bills — reduces the ability to concentrate, focus and make decisions. 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 »

Racial profiling

Racial profiling
We’ll never know how implicit bias affected George Zimmerman in the minutes before he shot Trayvon Martin. It’s easy enough to document a hidden bias against black people among white Americans. Can this be changed? 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 »

Monkey: When in Rome…

Monkey: When in Rome…

If you teach a group of monkeys that blue corn tastes yucky, they switch to pink corn. What happens when a monkey raised to detest pink corn enters the group? You might be surprised! 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 »

Odder than odd!

Odder than odd!

Dig the dung beetle. Sample the belly button. Tilt your brain — and see what happens. Watch bees cook their enemies. Drive through the cabbie’s brain. Check out pretty pix of pretty chicks. All weird. All here! More »

Screaming about screen time?

Screaming about screen time?

We spend ever-more hours with TV, cellphones, tablets and computers, is it rude or necessary to always answer your phone? Does distraction make you dumb? What about multitasking? More »

Emotional expressions: The face isn’t the whole story

Emotional expressions: The face isn't the whole story

At the moment of loss or victory, an athlete’s face shows intense … what? Without seeing the body, you can’t tell whether an important point was won or lost. Adding the body language makes all the difference — and can even overwhelm the message of the face! More »

Making spears

Making spears

Spears helped our ancestors eat and defend themselves. Spearmaking required ingenuity, experiments and communication. Symmetrical stone tools with damage at the tip indicate that spears were being used in South Africa half a million years ago, according to a new study. More »