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Uncommon Knowledge

How our brains process disorder

Broken windows theory has influenced criminology for decades.

old turntable

A Boston story in 50 words

“I think of the 1970s, when my dad would double-park the roofing truck.”

Smoke billowed from oil wells set ablaze by Islamic State militants fleeing from the Qayyarah region of Iraq in August.

OPINION | Scott Gilmore

Why is the Islamic world still torn by war?

Global trends toward interconnection, economic growth, social progress, and stronger civil society have not completely bypassed the Islamic world.

(FILES) Thomas Sanchez, founder of digital innovation agency Social Driver, demonstrates Google Glass at the National Press Club in Washington in this April 4, 2014, file photo. Google announced on January 15, 2015, that it was suspending sales sale of its prototype interactive spectacles


Paying attention in glass

Psychologists found that social class is associated with what people pay attention to, and for how long.

Democratic presidential candidate Jimmy Carter (right) spoke with a miner during a tour of a Pennsylvania coal mine in April 1976.

Ideas | David M. Shribman

Democrats — the party of the professional class?

The Democrats, who see themselves as the defenders of rank-and-file workers, face an identity crisis as their party goes upscale.

This was long thought to be the only portrait of William Shakespeare that had any claim to have been painted from life, until another possible life portrait, the Cobbe portrait, was revealed in 2009.

IDEAS | Ray Cavanaugh


Come for the Bard, stay for the forgeries.

A Boston story in 50 words

On a northbound train to Boston something shattered the window beside the seat in front of me.

John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence: In the central group in the painting, Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration, is shown placing the document before John Hancock, president of the Congress. With him stand the other members of the committee that created the draft: John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston and Benjamin Franklin. This event occurred in the Pennsylvania State House, now Independence Hall, in Philadelphia.This painting depicts the moment on June 28, 1776, when the first draft of the Declaration of Independence was presented to the Second Continental Congress. The document stated the principles for which the Revolutionary War was being fought and which remain fundamental to the nation. Less than a week later, on July 4, 1776, the Declaration was officially adopted, it was later signed on August 2, 1776.

Ideas | Paul Staiti

Painting a revolution

Forging a new nation also required creating a shared identity — through art.

A small grey rat.


Rats! Bad, old memories stay with us

Researchers have identified why memories from infancy are lost — and how to get them back.

Washington Street,

A Boston story in 50 words

I’m a 17-year-old in the booth changing one dollar bills for quarters.

OPINION | James Nehring

The Every Student Succeeds Act will Fail

The regulatory process associated with implementation will corrupt the law’s intent.

Some empty seats greeted Mike Pence on Aug. 4 during a rally in Virginia Beach, Va.

uncommon knowledge

Making campaign rallies great again

New research suggests campaign rallies are not as pivotal as they’re often made out to be.


The beautiful geometry of arrested soap bubbles

Stanford engineers figure out how to “arrest” the motion on the surface of soap bubbles, creating beautiful, colorful geometric patterns

Nate Parker as


When ‘Birth of a Nation’ sparked a riot in Boston

Nate Parker joins a long line of black filmmakers whose works are a counterpoint to D.W. Griffith.

IDEAS | CLAYTON Christensen, Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, and David S. Duncan

The customer may be king, but he’s also the boss

A successful business means understanding your customers and their job for you.

Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant in 1978


Channel 38: Broadcasting to hearts and minds

One Boston TV station charmed with a blend of old movies, original programming, and lots of sports.

Essess thermal images of homes and buildings


Mobile data collection is so thermal right now

Inexpensive mobile sensors are being used to monitor everything from street light outages to heat escaping from your house.

Hillary Clinton is seen on multiple screens speaking during the Sept. 26 debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images


Were we watching the same debate?

And more surprising insights from the social sciences.

IDEAS | Kelly O’Brien

Why your smartphone is so hard to ignore

Face the facts: You’re not really multitasking when you’re doing multiple things on your phone.


YouTube may be teaching someone to spy on you

Tutorials on how to hack webcams take the YouTube how-to video too far.

Ideas | Beth Wolfensberger Singer

A four-part plan for watching the presidential debates

It’s time to suit up — or dig a hole.

BGL/print scan Boston Ma. Boston's theater district 11/9/15 during Boston's blackout Globe file photo Joseph Runci *** November 9th 1965 blackout***


A Boston story in 50 Words

This was the start of the great Eastern blackout of 1965.

Members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) attended a meeting at the camp in Llanos del Yari, Caqueta Department, Colombia, on Sept. 16.


Can voters in Colombia forgive FARC’s violent past?

President Juan Manuel Santos has his entire political future resting on one vote.

Male and female U.S. Coast Guard swabs, of the cadet class of 2020, assemble for a class photo, Monday, June 27, 2016, at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, in New London, Conn. Forty years after military service academies opened their doors to women, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy is marking the milestone Monday at its annual reporting-in day, when it welcomes a class with a record 38 percent female cadets. Swab summer is a seven-week initiation for Coast Guard cadets. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

uncommon knowledge

If you’d bunked with Hillary

And more surprising insights from the social sciences.

Ideas | Richard Albert

Is it time to scrap the Constitution and write a new one?

The document is full of obsolete rules and practices.

Ideas | Roberto Lovato

A terrific site for archeology, except for all the things that could kill you

Watch out for the rattlesnakes and drug cartels.

Charred wood plank isolated on white background; Shutterstock ID 185415074; PO: 0918_50words; Client: Ideas


A Boston story in 50 words

A fire and a feisty pun.

Cheerios cereal isolated on white background; Shutterstock ID 122478658; PO: 0918_brainiac; Client: Ideas


Teaching parents to talk math with their kids

A new effort is underway to get parents and caregivers to talk to their young kids about math.

Boston Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller (86) waits for the puck to drop during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Uncommon Knowledge

Enforcement first

And other surprising insights from the social sciences.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 08: First lady Michelle Obama speaks during the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities poetry reading to honor student poets at the White House, September 8, 2016 in Washington, DC. The first lady honored five students with the nation's highest honor for teen poets presenting original work. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The Word

‘First lady’: An archaic term for a dynamic role

How ladylike is the title anyway?

Ideas | Bret Schulte

Lonely hearts in the heartland

Life is hard for farmers looking for love.

Credit: NASA The NASA-funded team found the first organic molecules thought to be of Martian origin; several mineral features characteristic of biological activity; and possible microscopic fossils of primitive, bacteria-like organisms inside of an ancient Martian rock that fell to Earth as a meteorite. The electron microscope revealed chain structures in meteorite fragment ALH84001. The meteorite, called ALH84001, was found in 1984 in Allan Hills ice field, Antarctica, by an annual expedition of the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Meteorite Program. It was preserved for study in JSC's Meteorite Processing Laboratory and its possible Martian origin was not recognized until 1993. It is one of only 12 meteorites identified so far that match the unique Martian chemistry measured by the Viking spacecraft that landed on Mars in 1976. The igneous rock in the 4.2-pound, potato-sized meteorite has been age-dated to about 4.5 billion years, the period when the planet Mars formed. The rock is believed to have originated underneath the Martian surface and to have been extensively fractured by impacts as meteorites bombarded the planets in the early inner solar system. Between 3.6 billion and 4 billion years ago, a time when it is generally thought that the planet was warmer and wetter, water is believed to have penetrated fractures in the subsurface rock, possibly forming an underground water system.

Ideas | Jacob Haqq-Misra

A better theory of intelligent design

You don't have to be religious, or even reject evolution, to consider the possibility of intelligent design.

Red Bicycle over white background


A Boston story in 50 words

Cow indeed!


I saw that movie, too

And more surprising insights from the social sciences.

Codex Manesse, between 1305 and 1315


Songs of passion, scandal from medieval Europe

The first ever English-language translation of the bawdy medieval poet Neidhart.

Newburyport, MA--1/3/2016--Syrian refugee Amira Elamri (cq), center, and her family are greeted after she addressed the congregation of the First Religious Society Unitarian Universalist, in Newburyport, on Sunday, January 3, 2016. Marjorie Peterson (cq), left, and Niki Rosen (cq), right, talk to her and her son Danny Aldehneh (cq), 9, and daughter Tia Aldehneh (cq), 6. Her husband, Bassel Aldehneh (cq), (stripes) is in the background. Photo by Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff Topic: 04syrianlocal Reporter: Astead Herndon

IDEAS | Kevin D. Grant

Unitarians’ long view on activism

Unitarian Universalist churches are increasingly helping Syrians fleeing their war-torn homeland.


Recording the secret lives of cells

MIT bioengineers create a recording device that can be implanted in cells to track their exposure to environmental stimuli.


A Boston story in 50 words

What happens when suddenly a porch dog charges.

Ideas | Beth Wolfensberger Singer

A blanket for college

A knitting project becomes very symbolic.

Ideas | Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

What magic can teach us about our brains

The secret is about exploiting loopholes in cognition.

A Pakistani medical team works with French doctors on an earthquake victim at a makeshift hospital in 2005 in Mansehra, Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

Uncommon Knowledge

Boots on the ground

And more suprising insights from the social sciences.

Ideas | Alison Lobron

Incurious George finds a safe space

The beloved children’s character turns 75 and has stopped taking so many risks.

The Word

A needless layer of butter to the toast

“As it were” is an awful modifier.

Kidnapped on Cape Cod

Republican nominee Donald Trump speaks at

Uncommon Knowledge

Go big or go home

And more surprising insights from the social sciences.

FROM MERLIN ARCHIVE DO NOT RESEND TO LIBRARY Color Advance -- Boston, 7.29.2001: 'Exploring the T': A Green Line train accelerates as it leaves the Park Street Station. Globe Staff Photo, David Kamerman Library Tag 08092001 Calendar Library Tag 10202002 City Weekly Library Tag 09192004 Metro


A Boston story in 50 words

When unwelcome advances on the subway make for a difficult commute.