Latest Ideas headlines

OPINION | Robert L. Tsai

Trump’s constitutional revolution

How do supporters of gradualism resist constitutional radicalism?

Facial expression.


Getting a better grasp on the gasp

Why facial expressions are often misleading.

A man sits on the curb during a protest against President-elect Donald Trump in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.


The November of our discontent

What the heck just happened in that election? Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel offers some perspective.

Donald Trump's proposed golf course.Tycoon Donald Trump at the house in Tong, on the Isle of Lewis, where his mother was brought up before she emigrated to the United States. Picture date: Monday June 09, 2008. The property tycoon has flown to his mother's former Scottish island home as he prepares to outline the case for his proposed golf resort at a public inquiry. The plans - which were refused by Aberdeenshire councillors - include hundreds of holiday homes, a hotel, golf villas and private houses on the site near Balmedie. The public local inquiry is expected to last three weeks at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre. See PA story ENVIRONMENT Trump. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire URN:6028533 (Press Association via AP Images)

Uncommon Knowledge

The winds of change

How differently would people have voted if it was windy?

Open land in arid desert country, environment


How climate sparks conflict

The connection between climate change and armed violence is clear.

Ideas | Christopher Klein

This viral photo changed America — in 1863

How the advent of a new medium woke the public up to the horrors of slavery.

0902112 (BC-BPI-EMMYPREVIEW) Stars of the NBC Series

Uncommon Knowledge

Who do women trust?

A study last year showed that straight women were more likely to trust advice or help from gay men.

baby boy at home crawling on carpet


How babies’ brains bloom

Harvard psychologist Susan Carey identifies leaps in logical capacity in children.

Ideas | Michael Rezendes

Recoil, reform, repeat

Why the cycle of scandal, reform, and scandal at Bridgewater State Hospital has seemed impossible to break.

Raw Turkey


A Boston story in 50 words

Winning the prize at a company blood drive.

Protesters march in Los Angeles Nov. 12 in reaction to Donald Trump’s election as president.


What does it mean to ‘normalize,’ exactly?

Suddenly, a word that began in the 1800s is on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

The hydrogen atom in motion isolated on a white background. 3d illustration high resolution


Quantum magic inside the human body

A new study finds the quantum nature of protons could be behind one of the body’s most important processes.

Ideas | Chloe K. Fox

Looking for a few good docs

Our archaic medical education system isn’t kind to women — that’s starting to change.

photo of creepy voodoo doll isolated on white

Uncommon Knowledge

Saving the planet, by sabotage if necessary

Losses by state and local Green Party candidates were associated with more incidents of sabotage by environmentalists.


A Boston story in 50 words

Rushing to the hospital in 1972.


Just how long was that campaign nightmare?

The campaign is over, after many grueling months. How could we have better spent our time?

An F/A-18E Super Hornet launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Opinion | Stephen Kinzer

Could Trump reform US foreign policy?

Voters have driven a stake not only into the heart of the Clinton machine, but also into the heart of the American foreign policy establishment.

Ideas | Richard Blanco

Election Year, by Richard Blanco

Blanco was the 2013 presidential inaugural poet. This poem is from his forthcoming book, “Boundaries.”

FILE - This Jan. 28, 2016 file photo shows a solitary confinement cell at New York City's Rikers Island jail. An internal report finds New York City's Rikers Island jail has entrenched problems responding to sexual abuse complaints. The troubles cited include emergency hotlines that don't work, confidential complaints read by fellow inmates and investigations that don't interview alleged attackers. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

Opinion | Scott Gilmore

Appalling to Canadians, routine in the US

Canadian outrage is quaint, almost ridiculous, when you consider the use of solitary confinement is so common in the United States.

Isolated old fashioned pan scale with man and woman on white background. Gender inequality. Female is heavier. Law issues. Golden model. 3D rendering.

Uncommon Knowledge

Influencing law firm bonuses

Before you agree to work somewhere, check the boss’s political donations.



A Boston story in 50 words

Growing up with a neighbor in the Fire Department.

The patrol car of a police officer who was shot and killed in Des Moines, Nov. 2, 2016.

Opinion | Kenneth N. Berkowitz

A dangerous time to wear a badge

In the United States and most of the Western world, attacks on police officers have been rare and isolated — until now.

Craft beer in the glass

The Word

Tapping into the language of beer

Craft breweries have popped up across the globe in the past decade and with them, a growing public fluency in the language of beer.

A member of police special forces stands atop a building prior to the arrival of Russian President Vladimir Putin at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Osman Orsal


October surprise? No, beware the November blitz

The “October surprise” is part of American elections. In international affairs, there’s a potentially more dangerous phenomenon: the November blitz.

A detail of “A Flor de Piel,” a 2013 work by Colombian artist Doris Salcedo. Made of rose petals and thread, the work is part of a new exhibit at the Harvard Art Museums.


Mourning for strangers in the YouTube era

Endless war images promote numbness, not empathy. Doris Salcedo, subject of a new Harvard exhibit, wants to help.

This artist's rendering made available by NASA on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016 shows the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security - Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft contacting the asteroid Bennu with the Touch-And-Go Sample Arm Mechanism. The mission, planned for launch on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016, aims to return a sample of Bennu's surface to Earth for study as well as return detailed information about the asteroid and its trajectory. (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center via AP)


Teaching satellites to swarm

Researchers are developing cheap, disposable satellites that can work together and go where satellites could not go before.

Ideas | Laurence Scott

It’s not OK

“OK” was the first word spoken on the moon. Now its negation seeks to expose the lunacy of our times.

October 9 1962 / Globe Staff Photo by Dan Sheehan / Boston Markets / Boston Market / Haymarket / Faneuil Hall 06102016

A Boston story in 50 words

The Cuban Missile Crisis, Saturday, October 27, 1962.

Ideas | Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

Is this place haunted? I’ve got this weird vibe

How sound you can’t hear can make you shiver, see things, and believe in spirits.

In this photograph taken on July 28, 2016, Indian Harry Potter fans take part in a pre-launch event to mark the release of the latest Harry Potter book

Uncommon Knowledge

Harry Potter and the Tolerant Fanbase

They’re the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just don’t hold with such nonsense.

September 18 1966 / William Lloyd Garrison / Wendell Phillips / George Thompson / Obituary junethirteen2016

Ideas | Richard Kreitner

When the North almost seceded

The Worcester Disunion Convention could have led to civil war.

A man shouts slogans as he takes part of a gay rights march in Mexico City, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. Hundreds of gay and lesbian rights supporters marched to Mexico City's Metropolitan Cathedral to support gay marriage. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

IDEAS | Andrew J. Bacevich

Our culture war heads overseas

Barring an upset on Nov. 8, the culture wars that animated so much of US politics for the last half-century have now essentially ended.

Twitter helped make Donald Trump the nominee of the Republican Party, but the lesson for politicians is that everything he did on Twitter to win the nomination ended up destroying him as a candidate.

Opinion | James Murphy

Trump stinks at Twitter. Sad!

A successful social media strategy includes two-way conversations, something almost entirely absent from Trump’s feed.

Crewmembers of the Rollins Rowing Association alumni men’s approached the River Street Bridge during last year’s Head of the Charles.

Ideas | Michael J. Socolow

Rowing’s search for swing

Every oarsman, and coxswain, knows when swing occurs.

One and Two Story, Homes, Building

Uncommon Knowledge

How our brains process disorder

Broken windows theory has influenced criminology for decades.

Ideas | Matthew Hutson

Sudden power is a scourge — and not just in politics

Absolute power may corrupt. But emerging research shows that newfound power makes people manipulative — especially when they’re insecure.

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.