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The weakest of excuses

Cancer researchers in Toronto lost a paper for a weird reason.

FILE- In this Nov. 28, 2016, file photo, a screen displays a patient's vital signs during open heart surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. Hospitalizations cause only about 4 percent of personal bankruptcies among non-elderly U.S. adults, according to an analysis published Wednesday, March 21, 2018, by the New England Journal of Medicine. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)


Big Data: 4 percent

The figure was far lower than most estimates.

Ketchup’s great. But what about the mess?


Innovation of the Week: ‘Slice of Sauce’

Ketchup’s great. But what about the mess?

Snow hampers travellers at Boston's South Station during a March noreastern on March 13, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. / AFP PHOTO / Joseph PREZIOSOJOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP/Getty Images


A Boston story in 50 words

A chance meeting downtown.

In this Wednesday, Dec. 12 2012 photo, Taneshia Wright, of Manhattan, fills out a job application during a job fair in New York. Economists forecast that employers added 155,000 jobs in December, according to a survey by FactSet. That would be slightly higher than November's 148,000. The unemployment rate is projected to remain at 7.7 percent. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)


Uncommon Knowledge: Hidden figures

Stark findings on gendered response rates for job applications.

As we understand more about these drugs, we might also get a better grasp on how dreams function.

Amitha Kalaichandran and Michael Natter

A trip to dreamland

As we understand more about these drugs, we might also get a better grasp on how dreams function.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg speaks at a conference in San Jose, Calif., in 2017. Cambridge Analytica scraped up Facebook data from more than 50 million people.


Computer science faces an ethics crisis. The Cambridge Analytica scandal proves it.

Dynamite and the atomic bomb led to soul-searching among chemists and physicists. Computer scientists have not yet witnessed negative consequences of their work — and behave accordingly.

Sonia Weiser

Had a strange dream? Your online audience awaits

Online dream-sharing communities sprang to life as soon as technology allowed.

People with REM sleep behavior disorder may lash out in their dreams — and face fatigue and neurodegenerative troubles in their waking lives.


I punch my boyfriend in my sleep

People with REM sleep behavior disorder may lash out in their dreams — and face fatigue and neurodegenerative troubles in their waking lives.

 CULVER CITY, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Vanity Fair contributor Nell Scovell speaks onstage during the ‘Equal Means Equal Conversation’ at the 2016 Vanity Fair Social Club #VFSC for Oscar Week at PLATFORM on February 26, 2016 in Culver City, California. (Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

Ideas | Joanna Weiss

Why did #MeToo only catch on now?

Longtime comedy writer Nell Scovell, a Newton native, has been arguing for greater equity in the entertainment industry for decades.

“Portrait of Pocahontas” by printmaker and sculptor Simon van de Passe.

Ideas | John Butman and Simon Targett

How the Pilgrims learned marketing

After all, they needed to reach potential settlers in England, some 3,000 miles away.

Parents combed children’s hair to see if they are infested by head lice at a primary school in Scheveningen, Netherlands.

Ideas | Kate Darnton

Why do Americans freak out over lice?

Many other cultures are blasé about an all-too-common pest. Americans freak out. It’s not them. It’s us.

Ideas | David Scharfenberg

How do you translate Donald Trump into Kim Jong Un’s Korean?

President Trump and Kim Jong Un are both known for verbal fireworks. A former presidential interpreter explains what might happen when they meet.

Millis Ma 06182016 Union Civil War Reenactors march on to field at Oak Grove Farm to beging battle. Globe/Staff Photographer Jonathan Wiggs


Forget about reenactors

Some prefer a more scholarly label: living historian.

Wild petunia (Ruellia humilis) Acanthus family


Big Data: 1,660 revolutions per second

High-speed seed explosions require lots of spinning.

miso robotics


The rise and fall of the burger-flipping robot

As automation increases, robots could take our jobs. Or not.

Notes of calm in a noisy neighborhood.


A Boston story in 50 words

Notes of calm in a noisy neighborhood.

FILE--In this Jan. 16, 2013, file photo, assault weapons and hand guns are seen for sale at Capitol City Arms Supply in Springfield, Ill. Recent mass shootings spurred Congress to try to improve the background check system used during gun purchases, but experts say the system is so fractured that federal legislation being considered in Washington D.C. will do little to help keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous people. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, file)


Background un-checked

In this week’s Uncommon Knowledge: Background checks, Canadian elections, and bank lending.

Ideas | Beth Wolfensberger Singer

The First Lady’s current hobbies

How does Melania Trump spend her days since entering the White House?

Ideas | Mark Peters

Pig Latin is alive and ellway

The persistence of Pig Latin highlights the continuing usefulness of language games, and not just for kids.

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 13: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) questions U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein during a a House Judiciary Committee hearing on December 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Ideas | S.I. Rosenbaum

In sex trade debate, everything old is new again

Opponents of prostitution are increasingly tapping into an old reserve of moral authority — the anti-slavery movement that flourished before the Civil War.

Man in Hawaiian shirt, holding a suitcase with travel stickers (stickers are my own, cheesy designs). Clipping path included


A few regrets after a cruise gone wrong

Privacy concerns open a can of worms for this medical journal.

What was once a last-ditch tactic in death penalty cases is now filtering down through lesser crimes.


Big Data: 420 court cases

What was once a last-ditch tactic in death penalty cases is now filtering down through lesser crimes.

Millennials to Snake People, a Web browser extension


Innovation of the Week: Millennials to Snake People

Be careful when copy and pasting online.

South Boston, MA - 9/3/2013 - Street scenes along Broadway for a story about State Senate candidate Maureen Dahill in South Boston, MA on Tuesday, September 3, 2013. (Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff) Slug: 01dahill Reporter: billy baker LOID: 6.2.688189178


A Boston story in 50 words

Finding balance in Southie.


Bet on the champion’s rival

In this week’s Uncommon Knowledge feature: rivalries, profit shares, and “Dancing with the Stars.”

Ideas | Sage Stossel

Boston has a ‘sidewalk equity’ problem

Citizens from all parts of Boston deserve great pedestrian thoroughfares.

When fighting a disease is a geopolitical priority, we find a way to make it happen.

Ideas | Thomas Levenson

The world defeated smallpox. Why does polio still exist?

When fighting a disease is a geopolitical priority, we find a way to make it happen.

Blumenbach's five races. Image is in the public domain.

Ideas | Michael Robinson

The myth of a ‘lost white tribe’

The so-called lost tribes grew out of Johann Blumenbach’s 18th-century theory.

“Thalia, Muse of Comedy,” a 1739 painting, is among the works featured in a new Casanova exhibition.

Ideas | Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell

When Casanova met #MeToo

Six months ago, a Texas art museum put on a cheeky exhibit about the legendary Italian lothario.

BOSTON, MA-- Gather in Fort Point's District Hall building. ( globe staff photo: Joanne Rathe The Boston Globe section:food G quick bite reporter: devra first topic: 01quickbite)


Forget food trucks. Head to a ‘collective’ for lunch

“Food hall,” it seems, is just too mundane.

The Brain; Shutterstock ID 68178979; PO: 0331_steinberg; Client: op-ed


Big Data: Dementia risk factors

Some 47 percent of people who carry this gene could develop the disease.

brainiac -- Plasmodial slime mold. (Hampshire College)


Innovation of the Week: The slime mold think tank

Plasmodial slime molds are being asked to sound off on confounding issues.

Brainiac -- Drummer girls, probably burlesque. (Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection


A Boston story in 50 words

One surprise encounter in a crowded theater.

Republican presidential candidates, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and businessman Donald Trump argue as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich listen during a Republican presidential primary debate at Fox Theatre, Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)


Some politicians are more equal than others

In our weekly Uncommon Knowledge feature: Statistics, sheep, and stereotypes.

Ideas | A.J.B. Lane

When Britain leaves the EU, maybe New England can take its place

There might be communication difficulties, but the cultural exchange would be worth the trouble.

Children stand before an ice sculpture at the Pyongyang Ice Sculpture Festival, marking the new year on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on December 31, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / KIM Won-Jin (Photo credit should read KIM WON-JIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Ideas | Kelly Kasulis

Inside the lives of average North Koreans

Using translated essays written by defectors, a book covers topics from politics to pornography.

SOCHI, RUSSIA - MARCH 16: Stephanie Jallen of the United States competes in the Women's Giant Slalom Standing during day nine of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games at Rosa Khutor Alpine Center on March 16, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Ideas | David Scharfenberg

Why do Americans ignore the Paralympics?

Grit and glory don’t guarantee an audience. At least, not an American one.

Ideas | Alex Kingsbury

You’ve got mail — for now

Letters are a staple of historic research. So what happens when written notes become obsolete?

silhouette in a subway tunnel. Light at End of Tunnel; Shutterstock ID 73189654; PO: Healthy Life 12/14


What’s up with all the body talk?

When social-justice activists describe African-Americans and women as “black bodies” and “female bodies,” what are they saying?

Police officers continue their work outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 17.


The lesson of the ‘Broward Coward’

A distinctly American notion holds that real men dispatch bad men with a pull of the trigger. But this is directly at odds with how real people behave.

Lowell, MA - 10/7/1980: Victoria Wyderka, 75, has been working at Wannalancit Mills, a cotton mill in Lowell, Mass., for over 40 years, Oct. 7, 1980. (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff) --- BGPA Reference: 170309_EF_019

Ideas | Craig Fehrman

How factories built nations and lifestyles

This new book traces the rise of factories, especially the biggest ones, and how they made our lifestyles possible.

An Indian woman replants rice saplings in a paddy field on the outskirts of Gauhati, India, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. More than 70 percent of India's 1.25 billion citizens engage in agriculture. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)


Journal retractions in record time

Eleven days is very speedy, but not quite enough to dethrone the record-holder.

Elizabeth Marian Swaney, of Hungary, runs the course during the women's halfpipe qualifying at Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)


Ethical Dilemma: When is it wrong to compete in the Olympics?

Cheap trick, or legit competition?


A Boston story in 50 words

When you come to a fork in the road, take it. When you come to hopscotch on the ground . . .

A student grabs a flavored seltzer water in the University of Vermont's cafeteria, The Marketplace, in the Dudley S. Davis Student Center, while flavored water and seltzer waters are still available after the banning of plastic water bottles on campus


Fait accompli on bottle bans

The very fact of something taking effect makes people more likely to accept it, new research indicates.