Latest Ideas headlines

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.

Ideas | Beth Wolfensberger Singer

Songs for a new ‘Pretty Woman’

Four song concepts to bring Disney’s 1990 sex-worker rom-com up to date.

The containers of Emma Allen-Vercoe’s model of the human colon, which she calls the Robogut.


Biotech has a poopy, pungent new frontier

Emma Allen-Vercoe’s lab sits on what may seem an unlikely frontier for medical research.

One of four Tritons in the Fontana del Moro in Piazza Navona in Rome.

Ideas | Con Chapman

The return of the mermen

Male water spirits are as old as the Greek myths. Now they’re back.

President Chester Arthur.


How a hack went to the White House and became a conscientious reformer

The story of the 21st president is a story of redemption — of a sleazy insider who governed honestly, putting country ahead of party and turning his back on corruption.

Ideas | Adam Bessie and Jason Novak

The Authoritarian Winter Olympic events

If despots had their way, we’d be competing in a much different set of events.

Ideas | Sage Stossel

Questionable marketing moves that we could soon see — but probably won’t

Inspired by recent news developments. Who knows what the marketing team has up its sleeve?

Color image of some people voting in some polling booths at a voting station.


Euphemism: ‘Majority sign-up’

The labor movement offers up a new electoral tactic.

A Walther handgun is displayed at the Smith & Wesson booth at the Safari Club International Convention in Reno, Nevada in this file photo taken January 29, 2011.


Big Data: A fateful study

The CDC found that people in households with guns were 2.7 times more likely to become homicide victims.


Innovation of the Week: An alternative to advertising

Salon is experimenting with a solution to online ad blockers.

BOSTON MA. 02/11/13: MORNING GRIDLOCK at 11am on Storrow Drive in both directions looking towards Charles Circle. Conditions after the storm ( David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo ) SECTION: METRO TOPIC 12snowmainphoto


A Boston story in 50 words

Evening rush hour in pouring rain. How can things get worse?

Leonardo DiCaprio is Jordan Belfort in the 2013 film THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, directed by Martin Scorsese, from Paramount Pictures and Red Granite Pictures. TWOWS-07897R


Uncommon Knowledge: Wolf dens of Wall Street

In this week’s issue: Prejudice, synonyms, and narcissism.

North Korean soldiers attend a mass rally to celebrate the North's declaration on November 29 it had achieved full nuclear statehood, on Kim Il-Sung Square in Pyongyang on December 1, 2017.

Ideas | Thanassis Cambanis

Stop trying to fix everything

A close look at some of the most dangerous spots in the world suggests that the United States would do far better if it embraced limbo.

Ideas | Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

Is infidelity always bad?

Among some therapists and sociologists, even “the last sexual taboo” comes under reconsideration.