Latest Ideas headlines

Boston, MA- October 12, 2017: Alice Kaanta relaxes in a Pop-up Play Cube while exploring HUBweek on City Hall Plaza in Boston, MA on October 12, 2017. (CRAIG F. WALKER/GLOBE STAFF) section: metro reporter:

Ideas | Mark Peters

The charming evanescence of the pop-up

A pop-up event can make consumers feel like they’re making memories rather than just spending money.

4/30/09 Cambridge, MA -- A tractor trailer on Memorial Drive collided with and became stuck under a pedestrian bridge in Cambridge Thursday afternoon April 30, 2009. According to workers on site the truck was carrying a shipment of computer equipment bound for Micro Center when it missed its turn and collided with the overpass. State Troopers said the driver was carrying paperwork instructing him to disregard signs warning motorists about the bridge's clearance height. Erik Jacobs for the Boston Globe Library Tag 05012009


A Boston story in 50 words

Be careful driving on Memorial Drive.

Ideas | Kelly and Zach Weinersmith

The perils of augmented reality

What happens after augmented reality spreads across the world?

A street paving crew spreads hot asphalt on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, in Orinda, Calif. Dozens of cooling centers opened throughout California, schools let students out early and outdoor events were cancelled as temperatures soared from a heat wave expected to last through the Labor Day weekend. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)


Innovation of the Week: Toilet paper-infused asphalt

It’s already been used to resurface a bike path, reinforce a dyke, and repave a parking lot.

The Cassiopea jellyfish spends most of its life resting upside down on underwater surfaces. MUST CREDIT: Photo courtesy of Caltech


Big Data: Sleeping jellyfish edition

The dozing Cassiopea raises lots of new avenues for future study.

Uncommon Knowledge: Preaching at the choir

This week: CEOs, controversial statements, and census data.


Euphemism: Independent pub group

Nothing’s less independent than a chain, so the word “independent” is a lie.

CREDIT: Ryan Somma

Ideas | Leah Samuel

These beauty-enhancing gadgets were terrible ideas

Each wave of new technology brought entrepreneurs trying to capitalize on our desire to look good and feel better.

Macro view of heap of color plastic toy bricks. Selective focus effect


Innovation of the Week: A knockoff Lego ISIS set

Stores have stopped selling the figurines amid concerns about glorifying ISIS.


Big Data: 728 earthquakes

Most have been small shakes. But there have been whoppers, too.


Uncommon Knowledge: A thinner blue line

This week: Foxholes, morals, and partisanship.

Young woman using mobile phone being robbed by a pickpocket at the subway station. Pickpocketing at subway station


A Boston story in 50 words

In a flash, a stolen wallet.

Cotton plant flower isolated on white background


On Second Thought: Ask a journalist

This looked like a big breakthrough for cotton, but there were errors in the paper.

Ideas | David Scharfenberg

Time to rewrite the Constitution?

The real risk is assuming that our government will fix itself if we just give it a little more time.

Ideas | Sage Stossel

A nation under the gun

None of us can feel exempt or safe.

Semi-automatic rifles in a gun shop in Las Vegas, Nevada.


Fear on both sides makes answers hard to find in gun debate

It is fear that dominates both sides of the American debate about the millions of semi-automatic weapons in the hands of our neighbors.

Ideas | David A. Moss and Marc Campasano

A republic at risk

In 1787, the challenge was how to keep a fledgling democracy together.

Holding an American flag and his naturalization certificate, new citizen Bryan Aleman waited to have his picture taken after a ceremony in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Ideas | James Piltch

Why Boston once required civics classes

No one is born knowing how to be a good citizen.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee in May. The former Kansas congressman has played down Russia's interference in the 2016 election and demonstrated a willingness to engage in political skirmishes for President Donald Trump. Must credit: Washington Post photo by Jahi Chikwendiu

Ideas | Daniel Golden

When spies target Boston’s universities

Boston-area universities are a mecca for intelligence activity.

Ideas | Kelly Kasulis

Why coffee makes you overeat sweets

We might not need those extra cups of caffeine as much as we think.

Ministry of Ideas

Does history have a shape?

The story we tell ourselves about how history unfolds also shapes our expectations of the future.


Innovation of the Week: Like fingerprints, but in your chest

There’s a never-ending quest to stay ahead of hackers.

A cheap, fast test for Zika and dengue could cost just $1.


Big Data: 20 minutes

The best way to test for Zika is neither cheap nor portable.


Euphemism: House jungle

No generation has a monopoly on voids.

Vintage industrial landscape with chemical factory, pipes and smoke, long exposure


A Boston story in 50 words

Environmental impacts in Somerville.


Uncommon Knowledge: The influence of theater

Love, race, and Moneyball in this week’s Uncommon Knowledge.

Ideas | A.J.B. Lane

Stage fight

It can be tough to get cast as an actor.

(FILES) A picture taken on June 27, 2015 shows Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis giving a press conference during a Eurogroup meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels. Varoufakis said he was resigning on July 6, 2015, in a shock announcement despite the government having secured a resounding victory for the 'No' vote in the country's referendum on bailout conditions. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYSJOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images

Ideas | Thanassis Cambanis

Can Greeks fix the West?

An unlikely band of Greek reformers may have an answer for an unsettled Europe.

Ideas | Beth Wolfensberger Singer

Limit lessons

The unexpected handiness of a sexual consent brochure.


A city of octopuses

This caught marine biologists by surprise.

FILE - In this July 1, 2008, file photo, a 7-Eleven is shown in Palo Alto, Calif. The convenience store continued its tradition of offering free Slurpees on July 11 on July 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)


Innovation of the Week: Meal solutions

Now, 7-Eleven is offering a foodie alternative.

Teenagers at a computer workshop writing code and learning to programme Raspberry Pi simple single-board computer (Photo by: Photofusion/UIG via Getty Images)


On Second Thought: Authorship for sale

Want to add a bit of science to your resume?

Businesswoman in spotlight. Picking the right candidate professional concept background. Leadership standing boss, executive profession, vector illustration


Uncommon Knowledge: From investments to gender blindness

Unusual insights from the social sciences.


Big Data: 2,802 cats

Owners rated their cats on numerous personality traits.


A Boston story in 50 words

Surprises for this matchmaker.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - AUGUST 13: A counter protester tries to punch Jason Kessler, an organizer of

Ideas | Cathy Young

Why you shouldn’t punch a Nazi

One can feel no sympathy for Nazis and still realize that approval of Nazi-punching is likely to lead to escalation of political violence across the board.

Healthy baby wearing glasses with saliva isolated on white background

Ideas | Mark Peters

The difficulty of describing day care

The various names we use for child care reflect entirely different views about the role of women in society.

NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-Inside view from the exercise cage (Hodgson calls it a pen) at the Bristol County House of Corrections where Aaron Hernandez exercises for an hour per day. Sheriff Thomas Hodgson is third from the left.


The sheriff from Trumpachusetts

If you’re looking to challenge Massachusetts’ reputation as a bastion of liberalism, this jail is a good place to start.

(FILES) This file photo taken on September 1, 2017 shows supporters of Kenya's opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) joking as they pretend to cry for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on a street of Kibera slum in Nairobi. Doubts are growing over Kenya's ability to hold a rerun of its presidential election in just one month as key players remain unable to agree on how to conduct a credible vote, analysts say. Bickering on all sides and confusion over the process have only increased as the clock ticks down to the October 17 vote, called after the Supreme Court annulled the initial August election, citing widespread irregularities. / AFP PHOTO / YASUYOSHI CHIBAYASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images

Ideas | Tonny Onyulo

Can Kenya’s broken democracy be fixed?

When democracy breaks, can it be fixed?

Cambridge, MA- May 04, 2017: Steps to the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library in Harvard Yard in Cambridge, MA on May 04, 2017, MA on May 04, 2017. (Globe staff photo / Craig F. Walker) section: metro reporter:

Ideas | David Scharfenberg

Harvard, the Stanford of the East

What does it mean for Boston if the World’s Best University slips to No. 2?

Deserted hospital corridor, concept of extended waiting.

Ideas | Dr. Jay Baruch

I’m an ambassador from nightmares. My medical training didn’t prepare me

All grief is specific and private and tangled up in relationships.

Ideas | Sage Stossel

Natural disasters are spreading

It seems nature’s elements have turned against us.


Uncommon Knowledge: From rent to rivalry

Longstanding debates and new discoveries from the social sciences.

(FILES) This file photo taken on December 11, 2014 shows a Thames Water sewer supervisor working in the intersection of the Regent Street and Victoria sewer in London. Sewage workers have found a 130-tonne ball of congealed fat -- dubbed a


Big Data: 143 tons

It’s enormous, and attracting considerable attention in the British press.


Euphemism: ex·pe·ri·enc·er (n.)

Alien abductees have found a new defining term.

MNS robots


Innovation of the Week: A robot hivemind

These robots could latch onto each other and merge their nervous systems.