Latest Ideas headlines

Self-styled Dutch positivity guru Emile Ratelband answers questions during an interview in Utrecht, Netherlands, Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. For Ratelband age really is just a number. In a legal battle that is stretching the debate about just how far a person can go in changing his or her identity, the sixty-nine-year-old television personality has asked a Dutch court to officially change his biological date of birth to make him 49. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)


Nice Try: Emile Ratelband’s lawsuit for youth

His doctor, he says, has told him that he has the body of a 40-something, and he’d like to have his whole life ahead of him.

This photo illustration shows a man watching an artificial intelligence (AI) news anchor from a state-controlled news broadcaster, on his computer in Beijing on November 9, 2018. - China's state-controlled news broadcasters have long been considered somewhat robotic in their daily recitation of pro-government propaganda, and a pair of new presenters will do little to dispel that view. (Photo by Nicolas ASFOURI / AFP)NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images


Innovation of the Week: An artificially intelligent news anchor

The AI anchor looks like an actual Xinhua presenter and will read any text punched into the system. But the voice is a little robotic.

An ear of corn isolated on a white background


Uncommon Knowledge: Corn, NIMBY money, and poor health

A collection of usual insights from the social sciences.

The Supply Chain Editorial

Food is going high-tech — policy needs to catch up with it

Learn to love GMOs, and resist efforts to demonize or prohibit them. Genetically modified food sets off alarm bells for purists, but crops designed to last longer or resist disease are increasingly necessary.

BROOKLINE , MA.01/15/13:ON THE RUN BUT GOT CAUGHT Brookline Police hunting for wild turkeys that are terrorizing the citiziens around Aspinwall Hiil , Brookline High School, Tappan (St.) and Gardner(Rd.) ( David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo ) SECTION: METRO TOPIC 16turkeyphoto

The Prey

Do you think we should eat Brookline’s turkeys?

These turkeys are the ultimate locally sourced protein. So why aren’t people eating them?

Ideas | The Meal | Sage Stossel

Predicting the future of food

Forcasting our food future isn’t easy. Nonetheless, we can attempt some predictions.

The Entrepreneurs

Leftovers can be money

Food waste may be an environmental scourge, but now it’s also big business.

The Supply Chain

How truck rules gave Massachusetts farmers a surprising boost

Crazy weather and rocky soil aren’t the only obstacles for commercial produce growers in New England.

The Seeds

Science makes bread taste better

We’ve been breeding grain for all the wrong things. A plucky team of rogue geneticists and bakers are on a quest to make your bread taste better.

29science Photo of aquafaba meringues 1 by: Nina Olofsson,

The Marketers

What would you name the food of the future?

Terms like “beef” and “chicken” evolved over centuries. When the foodstuffs of tomorrow suddenly emerge from the lab, where will they get their names?

The Traditions

Did America’s kosher revolution change the way you eat?

With kosher food as with so many other things, where there is a need, a free market will satisfy it.

Close up of tasty and fresh peanuts

The Ingredients

Have food allergies changed the way you eat?

The rapid growth of this industry has ignited criticism, consistent with a tendency to conflate food sensitivity with weight-loss fads or dismiss it as a bow to trendiness. The rapid growth of this industry has ignited criticism, consistent with a tendency to conflate food sensitivity with weight-loss fads or dismiss it as a bow to trendiness.

The kosher-industrial complex

America has undergone a kosher revolution.

The Prey

Let’s eat the Brookline turkeys

The wild turkeys roaming the streets and lawns of Brookline are nasty, even menacing. But Thanksgiving is at hand. These turkeys are the ultimate locally sourced protein. So why aren’t people eating them?

The Marketers

The future of food is here

What we call the new powders, isolates, mixes, and drinks of the future might help determine whether they become the powders, isolates, mixes, and drinks of the future.

The Ingredients

Allergies change how we all eat

We didn’t try to fix foods that caused allergies, in large part because we didn’t think we needed to. That might be changing.

The Store

Forget the expiration date

In the United States, food waste — some 40 percent of what we produce — sucks $218 billion out of the economy and $1,800 out of the average household’s annual budget.

Spice and seasoning background top view. Assortment of spices and herbs in wooden box with many compartments

The Watchdogs

A recipe for safer food

In today’s farm-to-table era, we tend to cast a far too romantic glow over 19th-century dining.

Boston-06/03/15- A Pestaurant temporary bug restaurant was set up in from of Faneuil Hall where people could chow down on food made with bugs. The pest control company, Ehrlich sponsored the event and made a donation to the Greater Boston Food Banks. A cricket eating competition was also held. Roasted crickets are given out to the contestants who had to eat the fastest three cups. Menu items included grasshopper burger, meal worm fired rice, bbq buffalo worms to name a few. Boston Globe staff photo by John Tlumacki (metro)

The Stomach

Relax. Eat bugs

Many in the United States and Europe recoil at the very thought of eating bugs. Now, researchers are trying to change that.

The instagrammable farm. Credit: Adobe/Globe Staff

The Growers

The Instagrammable farm

The future of farming is robots, drones, and gene editing. For Big Agriculture, anyway. For the little guy? It’s Instagram.

The Next Bite

How have your eating habits changed in the last few years, and why? How will they change in the future?

Tell us how you’re adapting to the future of food.

Asparagus on the wooden background.


On Second Thought: Asparagus edition

A food science journal recently retracted a study on dried asparagus after learning that the researchers had speared much of the article from an earlier paper.



Innovation of the Week: An equation for the perfect pizza

It’s about time.


Uncommon Knowledge: Language, values, and panhandling

A collection of usual insights from the social sciences.


The curious religions of multiplayer video games

These days, it’s a common refrain that the youth of the first world are growing up godless: Church and temple attendance have plummeted in developing countries. Meanwhile, those same young people are increasingly plugged in: Gaming, especially online gaming, has become a multibillion-dollar industry.

JERSEY CITY, NJ - MAY 05: Genius Award recipient, Director of Engineering at Google and Co-Founder and Chancellor of Singularity University Ray Kurzweil speaks on stage during Genius Gala 6.0 at Liberty Science Center on May 5, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Liberty Science Center)

Ideas | Galen Beebe and Zachary Davis

When Silicon Valley gets religion — and vice versa

Devotees of many religions believe in a soul that lives forever. In transhumanism, techies have found their own version of eternal life — and it’s finding unlikely fans.

JUCHITAN DE ZARAGOZA, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 01: Members of the Central American caravan head out at dawn for their next destination on November 01, 2018 in Juchitan de Zaragoza, Mexico. The group of migrants, many of them fleeing violence in their home countries, took a rest day on Wednesday and resumed their journey towards the United States border on Thursday. As fatigue from the heat, distance and poor sanitary conditions has set in, the numbers of people participating in the trek has slowly dwindled but a significant group are still determined to get to the United States. On Monday an official said that the Pentagon will deploy up to 5,000 active-duty troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in an effort to prevent members of the migrant caravan from illegally entering the country. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)


Context: Migrant Caravan

As the midterm election campaign entered its final days this past week, President Trump stepped up his rhetoric about the so-called caravans of Central American migrants making their way through Mexico to the United States.


Big Data: Driverless cars and saving lives

67th: That’s where Americans ranked, in a survey of people in 117 countries, in their willingness to save pedestrians’ lives if it means that car passengers die.

Vukheta Mukhari, one of the developers of the world's first bio-brick which uses human urine as one of the binding components, show off one of their bricks in the lab at the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Cape Town (UCT) on November 2, 2018 in Cape Town. (Photo by Rodger BOSCH / AFP)RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images


Innovation of the Week: Bio-bricks

We’ve built our civilization brick by brick. But bricks, like our civilization, aren’t very good for the planet. A group of South African engineering students may have come up with a solution.

Ideas | François Caradec and Philippe Cousin

Lend me your ear: A compilation of gestures from around the world

A dictionary newly out in English compiles gestures from around the world. Here are some that use the ear.



Uncommon Knowledge: Migrants, multitasking, and urbanization

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.

Ideas | Beth Wolfensberger Singer

Election 2018: Post-vote facial expressions, translated

From seasoned voters to newbies, this cartoon charts reactions to the aftermath of the big moment on Election Day.

The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Ricky Carioti

Ideas | Kent Greenfield

Corporations are people. Thank goodness.

Corporations are, and should be, legal “persons.” Lots of well-meaning liberals say otherwise — but even they should be on board.

Research on gun suicides shows: The enemy is inside the house

Ideas | Thomas Levenson

Research on gun suicides shows: The enemy is inside the house

Public-health researchers have studied suicides for decades, and they’ve learned something important about how to potentially save many victims.

Why a little evil is good – and a lot of empathy is bad

Ideas | Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

Why a little evil is good — and a lot of empathy is bad

Scientists think the people who do bad things are just like you. More to the point, you’re just like them.

Ideas | Sage Stossel

Creative approaches to drive millennial voter turnout

Millennial voter turnout is often low, but some simple changes could galvanize their votes.

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 04: An influenza vaccination is prepared for a patient at the CVS Pharmacy store's MinuteClinic on October 4, 2018 in Miami, Florida.


Correcting the record, finally

The journal Lab Medicine has finally retracted a long-debunked article about the spurious link between vaccines and autism.

Moon in space. Elements of this image furnished by NASA


Making a brighter moon

The moon is lovely. But let’s face it, the service is pretty spotty.

TOPSHOT - Antifa and counter protestors to a far-right rally argue during the Unite the Right 2 Rally in Washington, DC, on August 12, 2018. - Last year's protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one person dead and dozens injured, saw hundreds of neo-Nazi sympathizers, accompanied by rifle-carrying men, yelling white nationalist slogans and wielding flaming torches in scenes eerily reminiscent of racist rallies held in America's South before the Civil Rights movement. (Photo by ZACH GIBSON / AFP)ZACH GIBSON/AFP/Getty Images


Uncommon Knowledge: Antifa, STEM studies, and smartphones

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.

 George Foreman speaking at the 2016 FreedomFest at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Nevada. Please attribute to Gage Skidmore if used elsewhere.

Ideas | Michael J. Socolow

What Elizabeth Warren can learn from George Foreman

George Foreman provides a lesson about facing scorn and doubt while wading through the thicket of personal identity in public.

President Trump prepared to board Air Force One Monday.

Ideas | Heather Cox Richardson

‘Voter fraud’ is a myth that helps Republicans win, even when their policies aren’t popular

Voter fraud is vanishingly rare, but the GOP plays it up to keep Democratic voters from the polls and tar Democratic victories as illegitimate.

The high stakes in fake Martian soil

Ideas | Kelly Kasulis

The high stakes in fake Martian soil

Before successfully colonizing Mars, earthlings will need a recipe for Martian dirt.

Howard Chandler Christy's painting of the signing of the United States Constitution was commissioned in 1939 as part of the congressional observance of the Constitution's sesquicentennial. Completed in 1940, the 20-by-30-foot framed oil-on-canvas scene is among the best known images in the United States Capitol. It is on display in the east grand stairway of the House wing.

Ideas | Jonathan Gienapp

Originalism is the rage, but Constitution’s authors had something else in mind

Today, our courts try to divine the original intentions of the Constitution. But the men who wrote it saw it as an unfinished, amorphous system.

Ideas | A.J.B. Lane

Welcome to the pre-post-apocalypse

Signs of civilizational catastrophe are already all around us.

Genetic sequencing presents ethical dilemma around Native American ancestry


Genetic sequencing presents ethical dilemma on Native American ancestry

Many Native American tribes are deeply wary of reconstructing the past via DNA sequencing.

Big Data: Tainted supplements


Big Data: Tainted supplements

A review found that the government had recalled only 48 percent of the offending supplements.