Latest Ideas headlines

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 21: The Empire State building and the skyline of Manhattan is viewed from one of the top floors of the newly built Four Seasons private residences at 30 Park Place on January 21, 2015 in New York City.

Ideas | Craig Fehrman

How cities split the nation

Forget red states and blue states. The way to understand politics today is red farms and blue cities.

Brainiac

If a double-negative is a positive, what do you get when you retract a retraction?

Unlike many retraction stories, this one ends happily for the author.

FILE - This 2016 digitally-colorized electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the Zika virus, in red, about 40 nanometers in diameter. A study released on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 suggests although signs of Zika infection can be seen in men’s semen for nearly a year, the risk of sexual transmission appears to fade in just one month. (Cynthia Goldsmith/CDC via AP)

Brainiac

Big Data: 800 million viruses

This study is one of the first to examine viruses’ environmental distribution.

A tarantula burger is prepared at Bull City Burger and Brewery in celebration of Exotic Meat Month in Durham, North Carolina, U.S. April 16, 2018. Picture taken April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart - RC172896F4F0

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: The tarantula burger

In case anyone found pickles and tomatoes boring.

Winter city scene. Woman on bike in traffic

Ideas

A Boston story in 50 words

Different modes of transportation cause friction.

Statue of justice on the white background

Brainiac

Uncommon Knowledge: Separate, therefore unequal

Surprising insights from the social sciences.

Ideas | Sage Stossel

Hollywood reboots for the Trump presidency

After the return of “Roseanne,” other famous reboots are in the works.

Ideas | A.J.B. Lane

A mythical place where the Red Line meets the Blue Line

Some unusual track configurations for the possible link between Bowdoin and Charles/MGH stations.

This image released by Fox shows the Apu from the animated series

Brainiac

Social conflict over ‘The Simpsons’

Is Apu an ugly ethnic stereotype? If so, has he always been?

Watertown, MA 090314 Detail of baguettes. For a story on sour dough we photographed on August 3rd at Sheryl Julian's home in Watertown. cover story on making your own sourdough starter for family breads. We'll shoot baguettes, rounds, rolls, loaves, also biscuits, and pancakes. Writer Jaclyn Fishman is styling at sheryl julian's house. Food styling/Sheryl Julian and Jaclyn Fishman. (Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff)/ G

Brainiac

‘Herman’ spreads through bread

Some starters have been kept alive for more than a century.

A team at MIT developed a wearable device that aims to pick up otherwise imperceptible neuromuscular signals in your jaw and face.

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: Transcribing the words in your head

A team at MIT developed a wearable device that aims to pick up otherwise imperceptible neuromuscular signals in your jaw and face.

East Boston, MA -- 4/01/2018 - Girls run across the plaza at Madonna Queen of the Universe Shrine after attending Easter services there. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff) Topic: Reporter:

Ideas

A Boston story in 50 words

One mother’s terrible loss.

Heavy traffic clogs the 101 Freeway as people leave work for the Labor Day holiday in Los Angeles on August 29, 2014. A Labor Day travel prediction by the American Auto Association (AAA) expects that 34.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Labor Day holiday weekend, mainly due to lower gas prices and a rebounding economy. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Brainiac

Another terrible side effect of traffic

This week in Uncommon Knowledge: frustrated drivers, the minimum wage, and divine inspiration.

Ideas | Bernhard Warner

Why women live longer than men — and how men will benefit from it

In the animal kingdom, humans are unusual: Women live longer than men. Figuring out why could help men age better, too.

Every year, more new species are discovered and cataloged than ever before.

Ideas | Michael Ohl

From the Hitler beetle to the Beyoncé fly

Every year, more new species are discovered and cataloged than ever before.

Food has always played an important role in religion. But diets can operate like religions of their own.

Ideas | Maria Devlin McNair

Is your diet a cult?

Food has always played an important role in religion. But diets can operate like religions of their own.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by ANDY RAIN/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (9286748c) The British Union flag and European Union flag outside parliament in London, Britain, 12 December 2017. British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to face another Brexit Bill showdown over a 'meaningful vote' on the final deal, when ministers vote at parliament 13 December. British Prime Minister May faces another Brexit Bill showdown, London, United Kingdom - 12 Dec 2017

Ideas | Mark Peters

Trousers and pants — stripping down British and American English

For an American teaching English and linguistics in England, there are surprising differences and similarities.

Ideas | Beth Wolfensberger Singer

Ten autopilot inventions that would be way more thrilling than a self-driving car

From flossing to mowing the lawn, maybe our daily lives could use more automation.

Our Twitter poll asked readers for their views.

Brainiac

Should Sinclair anchors quit, rather than potentially compromise reputations?

TV stations owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group reach almost 40 percent of American households.

Border Collies Miley and Tiara are pictured during a touchscreen experiment at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna on February 26, 2018. The results gathered after hundreds of dogs took part in a study at Vienna's University of Veterinary Medicine suggest that older dogs benefit from similar games, just as Sudoku and other brain exercises can help their owners stay mentally agile. / AFP PHOTO / ALEX HALADAALEX HALADA/AFP/Getty Images

Brainiac

Retraction Watch: Whoops, my bad

This researcher belatedly stumbled upon a mistake he didn’t even realize he had made.

House resting on money

Brainiac

Big Data: Losing your nest egg can kill you

This study found a grim reality at the intersection of health and personal finance.

Flying drone isolated on white background. 3D rendered illustration.

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: Eucharist by drone

The flesh is weak, but the drone is willing.

The 35-foot Madonna high on Orient Heights saw it all.

Ideas

A Boston story in 50 words

Heartbreak, avenged.

FILE — A worker at a Walmart fulfillment center in Bethlehem, Pa., Oct. 12, 2017. The economy is sending mixed signals on wages. Figuring out what’s really happening is complicated by data that’s volatile, and may be getting worse. (Sam Hodgson/The New York Times)

Brainiac

Fear the monopsony

Complaining about monopoly power is all the rage now, but the bigger problem may be monopsony power.

The traditional liberal arts have faded in the higher-ed marketplace, but the seeds of a digital revival are sprouting

Ideas | Josh Macht

Can tech save the humanities?

The traditional liberal arts have faded in the higher-ed marketplace, but the seeds of a digital revival are sprouting.

GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 04: A full November moon, which is known as a Beaver's Moon according to the native north Americans, rises behind the Grade I listed St Michael's Tower on the top of Glastonbury Tor, following a sunset ceremony on its lower slopes to celebrate the festival of Samhain at the Glastonbury Dragons Samhain Wild Hunt 2017 in Glastonbury on November 4, 2017 in Somerset, England.

Ideas | Mark Peters

Naming the full moon

Earth’s next-door neighbor has some lush nicknames.

Ideas | Sage Stossel

Some consolations for our collective Facebook data crisis

The revelation that a shady company gained access to our Facebook data is decidedly unsettling.

Binge-drinking research. File photo dated 22/04/15 of empty bottles of alcohol, as Tory MP Fiona Bruce has said that Britain is facing an alcohol crisis but the Government is not addressing the situation. Issue date: Wednesday February 7, 2018. The chairwoman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Harm, called for a national strategy to deal with the issue. See PA story POLITICS Alcohol. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire URN:34834784

Brainiac

Euphemism: ‘Heavy episodic drinking’

The very term “binge” doesn’t just sound judgey; it also makes these episodes seem less common then they are.

Intestinal lining. Light micrograph of a section through the wall of the human jejunum, part of the small intestine. The lining has many folds, known as plicae circulares or Kerckrings valves, in this region. The folds are covered by smaller projections called villi.

Brainiac

Hidden in plain sight

A lay person might not think there were any new organs in the human body waiting to be discovered.

WALSENBURG, CO - AUGUST 05: Medical assistant Amy Garcia unloads doctors notes to be inserted into medical files at the Spanish Peaks Family Clinic on August 5, 2009 in Walsenburg, Colorado. The Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center, which treats rural residents from throughout southern Colorado, plans to move to an electronic health records system before the end of 2010. Administrators say they expect the costs of upgrading the system will eventually be recovered through federal funds, as part of the overhaul of the nation's healthcare system. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Brainiac

Big Data: Where are the savings?

Administrative costs still account for a quarter of healthcare spending in the United States.

Innovation of the Week: Upload your mind

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: Upload your mind

We all want to live forever.

Fifty years later, finding out what happened.

Ideas

A Boston story in 50 words

Fifty years later, finding out what happened.

People who have lived abroad report a clearer sense of who they are.

Brainiac

Living abroad is a way to find yourself, research suggests

People who have lived abroad report a clearer sense of who they are.

Every semester, at course evaluation time, powerful women can be brought down by a number of men (and some women) who are supposed to have less power.

Ideas | Carol Hay

When students discriminate against their (female) professors

Every semester, at course evaluation time, powerful women can be brought down by a number of men (and some women) who are supposed to have less power.

Car on Newbury Street in Boston automatically identifies pedestrians, cars, cyclists and trucks in the scene. Recognition is done in real-time. This is how a self-driving car can see the world.10Nuerala. BUSINESS 8-15-17

Ideas | Johannes Himmelreich

The everyday moral challenges of self-driving cars

Self-driving cars should drive more safely, and more fairly, than people do.

A keyboard key isolated against a white background

Brainiac

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)

Brainiac

Big Data: 4 percent

The figure was far lower than most estimates.

Ketchup’s great. But what about the mess?

Brainiac

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

Ideas

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)

Brainiac

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.

Boston, 1845: A blaze on Beacon Hill leads to a grisly discovery.

A.J.B. Lane

The curious case of Albert Tirrell

Boston, 1845: A blaze on Beacon Hill leads to a grisly discovery.

“The Nightmare” by Henry Fuseli is thought to be a depiction of sleep paralysis perceived as a demonic visitation.

Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

The Night Hag and other terrors of sleep

From temporary paralysis to exploding head syndrome, parasomnias illustrate what happens when sleep and wakefulness overlap.

Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

How our dreams made us human

Freud looked for secret meanings in staircases and cravats. Modern researchers care more about how and why we dream — and what dreams say about the human brain.

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.

IDEAS | YONATAN ZUNGER

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.

Dreaming involves a form of work, as our brains try to shape a coherent story out of the visual hallucinations flickering before it.

Martin Seligman

When the brain is off to sleep — but hard at work

Dreaming involves a form of work, as our brains try to shape a coherent story out of the visual hallucinations flickering before it.