Latest Ideas headlines

Chess queen on a white background. 3d illustration.


Innovation of the Week: AI chessmaster

This self-taught program soundly beat its human-trained counterparts.


Big Data: Feeding the squirrels

Squirrels have developed tricks to keep track of their hidden snacks.

FILE - In this Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, file photo, former U.S. President Barack Obama arrives on stage prior to delivering a speech in Paris. Carter Wilkerson, a guy with an insatiable appetite for chicken nuggets, and Obama are among the most retweeted tweets of the year. On Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, Twitter released its top trending people and subjects ranging from the arts, to politics, to Korean boy bands. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)


Uncommon Knowledge: Thanks, Obama

Did the Obamacare rollout impact the 2016 election?

Excavator or digger moving beach sand after erosion by the tides on a tropical beach with calm ocean in Cairns, Queensland, Australia


Euphemism: Beach nourishment

Climate change is eroding beachfront on Cape Cod and around the world.


A Boston story in 50 words

One single chance to play with the King.

Ideas | A.J.B. Lane

‘Prius repellant’: Rolling coal stinks up the roads

With this modification, a diesel engine can belch black smoke at the flick of a switch.

Ideas | Thomas Levenson

Antibiotics gave us routine surgery. Growing resistance could change everything

When drugs brought infection under control, more bodily ills became fixable — at least for a while.

ap images


A Boston story in 50 words

Driving can be treacherous.

Packaged chips icon vector illustration isolated on white background. Fast food snack, vending machine menu pictogram in flat design


Innovation of the Week: GPS-thwarting snack bag

Tom Colella went to extraordinary lengths to ensure he could play golf.

Different colorful pills on white background


Big Data: 1,500 drugs collected

One in 10 medicines in the developing world are either counterfeit or substandard.


Uncommon Knowledge: Grim reapers for Trump

An experiment showed supporters with death on their minds.

Illustration of a long shadow warning signal with quotes


On Second Thought: The phantom menace

Four hundred citations is a lot — particularly for a paper that doesn’t exist.

04muther FullSizeRender-14 -- Sunset in the village of East End, Grand Cayman. Photos taken on Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. Photo credit: Christopher Muther, Globe Staff.


Euphemism: Tax neutral

This term came to light in the hubbub over the Paradise Papers.

Ideas | Beth Wolfensberger Singer

Royal wedding hat updates

Now that Prince Harry is engaged to one of our own, some American-style edits are in order.

dbunn -

Ideas | Amy Crawford

Retirement is now one-third of adult life. Time to rethink the golden years

“People get real tired of doing nothing but golf.”



A Boston story in 50 words

“When asked about my wanderlust I share this.”

Ideas | Sage Stossel

The home for fallen men

Is it time to revive Victorian-era institutions of moral rehabilitation?

Ideas | Mark Peters

Should we still say ‘whom’? LOL, no

BuzzFeed’s global copy chief, Emmy J. Favilla, explains why “whom” is bad and “haha” is good.

Ideas | Ted Widmer

Project West Ford and the plan to pollute space

It started with one of the strangest scientific experiments of the Cold War.

Aftermath from the Cocoanut Grove fire on Nov 28, 1942.


A disaster remembered, via Google Maps

At first, it sounds like somebody’s idea of dark humor.

The UCLA campus was flooded by a broken 30-inch water main in 2014.


Relic of the Week: Divining rods

Believe it or not, these are still in use.


Uncommon Knowledge: From helicopter to smartphone parent

In this week’s edition: Family relations, social sharing, and gender in politics.In this week’s edition: Family relations, social sharing, and gender in politics.

In a Friday Oct.. 13, 2017 photo, Nicodemus, a comfort dog, looks out a window in Omaha, Neb. Nicodemus was among a group of dogs that went to Las Vegas to comfort victims of the mass shooting. (Julia Nagy/Omaha World-Herald via AP)


Big Data: 40,000 years of being best friends

As they were domesticated, dogs developed the ability to form powerful bonds with humans.

Ideas | Alan Wirzbicki

Dying arts can be saved — but is it worth it?

Cinema buffs love 70-millimeter film, which made “2001” beautiful, but staying authentic is really hard.

Ideas | Zachary Davis

Three models of citizenship

These go a long way towards explaining frictions in our civic space.

Chief Massasoit visited by Governor Winslow, Plymouth Colony, 1620s. Hand-colored woodcut of a 19th-century illustration. (North Wind Picture Archives via AP Images)

Ideas | Christopher Klein

After the first Thanksgiving, things went downhill

The people who arrived in 1630 in huge numbers were much more opinionated and less open-minded than the Pilgrims.


Born in Boston, buried in a ‘foreign devil’ graveyard in China

When New England was America’s gateway to China, Massachusetts left its mark on distant shores.


Innovation of the Week: Skipping ahead to the good parts

Plot. Character development. Who needs it?

Caenorhabditis elegans, a free-living transparent nematode (roundworm), about 1 mm in length. Fluorescence micrograph.


Big Data: 1 millimeter

Just like humans, this worm experiences withdrawal symptoms.

Tow Truck pulling a car in silhouette


A Boston story in 50 words

Parking in Boston? Never a dull moment.

the concept of education of children. the generation of knowledge


On Second Thought: Supportive colleagues

Academics are notorious for infighting — but not always.


Uncommon Knowledge: Municipal police spending

In this week’s issue: police leniency, the EPA, and frontier voting patterns.

Ideas | A.J.B. Lane

Can’t we all just get along?

A helpful guide to making civil conversation with your relatives this Thanksgiving.

August 1980: Ballet dancers Mikhail Baryshnikov and Lesley Collier perform a pas de deux in 'Rhapsody' at Covent Garden in London. Choreography was by Sir Frederick Ashton and music by Sergei Rachmaninoff. (Photo by Mike Lawn/Evening Standard/Getty Images)


A Boston story in 50 words

Celebrity sighting at Filene’s.

Internet investor and science philanthropist Yuri Milner, left, and renowned cosmologist Stephen Hawking, right, seated in a speech adaptive wheelchair, discuss the new Breakthrough Initiative focusing on space exploration and the search for life in the universe, during a press conference, Tuesday, April 12, 2016, at One World Observatory in New York. The $100 million project is aimed at establishing the feasibility of sending a swarm of tiny spacecraft, each weighing far less than an ounce, to the Alpha Centauri star system. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Ideas | Jacob Haqq-Misra

Here’s why plans for a ‘death laser’ in space have been put on hold

There’s constant tension between human ingenuity and the risk that humans can’t be trusted.

Ideas | Alexander P. Cole, M. Carlton, and Quoc-Dien Trinh

If hackers attacked the hospital

Advanced devices come with advanced risks.

Ideas | Zachary Davis

The long, empowering history of selfies

For the vast majority of human history, most people lived their whole lives without really knowing what they looked like.

Ideas | Beth Wolfensberger Singer

Angrily-drawn protective gear

Defensive tools for interacting with offensive . . . tools.


Big Data: 53.54kg

There’s an alarming annual decline in the number of insects.

Concept of organ transplant. Buying kidneys. Hand holding human kidneys, buyer holding money.


Euphemism: Paid donation

In Iran, you can do this — and without the stigmatizing term “organ sales.”

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


Excerpt: The future of medicine

Some predictions from the recently published report.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a Healthcare Symposium at the Pine Barn Inn on the campus of Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, Pa., Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. Clinton served as the keynote speaker. (Larry Deklinski/The News-Item via AP)


Uncommon Knowledge: More with her than ever

In this week’s edition: Obamacare, race, and the Peter Principle.

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 01: People scramble for shelter at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after apparent gun fire was heard on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A gunman has opened fire on a music festival in Las Vegas, leaving at least 20 people dead and more than 100 injured. Police have confirmed that one suspect has been shot. The investigation is ongoing. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

Ideas | David Scharfenberg

Hand over your weapons

Background checks won’t end the epidemic of mass killings. Maybe gun control advocates should aim higher.


A Boston story in 50 words

The limits of locking your door.

Published in 1907. Thor as depicted (1907) by Lorenz Frølich.

Ideas | Mark Peters

The Norse gods’ unlikely comeback

Rested and ready, Thor is back.

BOSTON , MA. 05/ 10/13: PRETTY WEEDS , dandelions made for a pleasant resting spot on a hill at Castle Island for L-R Sapna Saxena ( cq) and Amanda Holm ( cq) both of Boston. ( David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo ) SECTION: METRO TOPIC stand alone photo

Ideas | Peter Del Tredici

Amnesty for plants

Yank or spray all you want, the dandelion is here to stay.