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Ideas

Discuss: What role should algorithms play in school equity?

Share your thoughts on the Ideas section’s special report on using algorithms to plan school start times.

Ideas | Sage Stossel

Simple upgrades for MBTA subway stations

Many Boston subway stations are in a state of disrepair. Some simple fixes would go a long way.

After some vague reasons, a report on happiness itself has been retracted.

Brainiac

Retraction Watch: A ‘happy’ ending

After some vague reasons, a report on happiness itself has been retracted.

Big Data: Turtles in danger

Brainiac

Big Data: Turtles in danger

Turtles outlived the dinosaurs, but can they withstand humans?

An undated image of William Marcy

Brainiac

‘Corruption face’: Trying to predict politicians’ misconduct

Subjects of a California study made better-than-chance judgments about whether pols had been convicted of corruption.

African Americans demonstrators carry picket signs along the main street of Raleigh in protest against the enforcement of segregation in cafes and restaurants in the city on Feb. 16, 1960. (AP Photo)

Brainiac

Uncommon Knowledge: Resentment, reproduction, and reconciliation

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.

Ideas | Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

Pass the scalpel. Hold the guilt trip

Decades into the fight against obesity, Americans still view surgical treatments with suspicion. But why? An abundance of food unprecedented in human history justifies aggressive measures.

1937 Covered Wagon at the Gilmore Car Museum in Indiana. CREDIT: Greg Gjerdingen

Ideas | Terence Young

When Americans realized that roughing it stinks, the RV was born

In 1915, new creature comforts created by technology merged with the back-to-nature movement.

Representatives William J. Graves of Kentucky and Jonathan Cilley of Maine.

Ideas | Amy Crawford

When American politics was a blood sport

Congress was surprisingly violent in the years leading up to the Civil War. What’s that say about our own era of incivility?

Ideas | A.J.B. Lane

Kickoff of the fall (political) football season

From the Washington G-Men to the Heartland Patriots, how will your favorite team fare?

In this July 27, 2018 photo, the Dave Johnson coal-fired power plant is silhouetted against the morning sun in Glenrock, Wyo. The Trump administration on Tuesday proposed a major rollback of Obama-era regulations on coal-fired power plants, striking at one of the former administration’s legacy programs to rein in climate-changing fossil-fuel emissions. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

Brainiac

The Flat Earth Society weighs in on climate change

In an unusual twist, the society was asked to share its views on climate change.

A long history of humans and cheese

Brainiac

A long history of humans and cheese

New findings push the earliest known evidence of cheese-making back thousands of years.

Brainiac

Uncommon Knowledge: Immigration, dark money, and meat consumption

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.

The XOXO art and technology festival in Portland, Ore., distributed pins so attendees could make their identifying pronouns clear.

Ideas | Kory Stamper

The long, long history — and bright future — of the genderless ‘they’

Complex views of gender go back further than many people think.

McNeven, J., The Foreign Department, viewed towards the transept, coloured lithograph, 1851, Ackermann (printer), V&A. The interior of the Crystal Palace in London during the Great Exhibition of 1851. CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons

Ideas | Nick Andersen

When you couldn’t bring technology to people, ambitious cities brought people to World’s Fairs

In an era before mass commercialization, it wasn’t easy to present new products to the public; the public had to travel to them. A forward-looking city could reap the benefits.

Ideas | Beth Wolfensberger Singer

Making Bird scooters more Boston-friendly

Some residents and officials resisted Bird scooters coming into Greater Boston. Maybe the scooters just need to focus more on Boston itself.

The secret to evenly splitting dry spaghetti

Brainiac

The secret to evenly splitting dry spaghetti

What would it take to break a single piece of dry spaghetti into two pieces?

The internal structure of the body, cells, and organisms in the environment, the interaction of microbes and cell bodies; Shutterstock ID 331444775; PO: books 8/14 ILLUSTRATION BY GREG KLEE

Brainiac

Retraction Watch: When a study contradicts itself

There’s plenty of blame to go around at Cardiology Research and Practice.

Corozal, Puerto Rico -- 10/02/2017 - . In Corozal, Orlando Gonzalez holds his daughter, Nahielys, at the funeral of their neighbor, who died as a result of the storm. This happened after Hurricane Maria. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff) Topic: Reporter:

Brainiac

Correcting the death toll after Hurricane Maria

The initial death toll of 64 was drastically revised after a team from George Washington University used a mathematical model based on historical patterns.

Auf diesem Bild ist ein Gefängnisgang des Stasi-Gefängnis von der DDR Gedenkstätte Berlin-Hohenschönhausen zu sehen. In this image is to seen a prison gang of the Stasi prison cellars of the DDR memorial Berlin-Hohenschönhausen.

Brainiac

Uncommon Knowledge: Prisons, Kardashians, and teachable moments

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.

The abortion debate doesn’t change, but the science of abortion does

Ideas | Chelsea Conaboy

The abortion debate doesn’t change, but the science of abortion does

The political lines defining the abortion fight have barely moved. But as a new battle looms, scientific advances could change everything.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by CHIP SOMODEVILLA/POOL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (9754023r) Brett Kavanaugh, Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh meets with US Senators, Washington, USA - 10 Jul 2018 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (L), Judge Brett Kavanaugh (C) and US Vice President Mike Pence (R) pose for photographs before a meeting in McConnell's office in the US Capitol, in Washington, DC, USA, 10 July 2018. President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh to succeed retiring Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Ideas | Mary Sarah Bilder

On the Supreme Court, eight is enough

Nothing in the Constitution requires nine justices. And an even split might be healthier.

Ideas | Sage Stossel

Why ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ matters right now

The new movie is a hit, and new voices are speaking out.

In a Senate Commerce Committee hearing, executives of the world's top social media companies were praised for their efforts so far to eliminate Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and other jihadist content from the internet. / AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCELOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images

Brainiac

‘Irony poisoning’: when nasty humor spirals downward into something far worse

The New York Times diagnosed this German firefighter with a novel malady: irony poisoning.

Buses and cars are clogged with heavy traffic on roads on a heavily polluted day in Beijing, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. Beijing on Sunday, Nov. 29 issued its highest smog alert of the year following air pollution in capital city reached hazardous levels as smog engulfed large parts of the country despite efforts to clean up the foul air. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Brainiac

How air pollution impacts our lives

This week in Big Data: Quantifying the destructive impacts of air pollution.

The social media giant Facebook said Thursday Aug. 23, 2018, it has banned a quiz app for refusing to be audited and concerns that data on as many as 4 million users was misused, after it found user information was shared with researchers and companies. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, FILE)

Brainiac

How viral outrage can backfire

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.

Society once left poor and abandoned children to their fate. How did that change?

Ideas | John Hilliard

When children were always someone else’s problem

Society once left poor and abandoned children to their fate. A sensational — and highly publicized — 1875 murder case in Massachusetts was a turning point.

Medical students are skipping class in droves — and making lectures increasingly obsolete

Ideas | Orly Nadell Farber

Medical students are skipping class in droves — and making lectures increasingly obsolete

AWOL students highlight increasing dissatisfaction and anxiety that there’s a mismatch between what they’re taught in class during those years and what they’re expected to know.

Uncommon Knowledge: Testing for cheaters

Brainiac

Uncommon Knowledge: Testing for cheaters

Unusual insights from the social sciences, from transplants to Christianity to secrecy.

Ideas | A.J.B. Lane

Trying to put a lighter spin on climate change

The overwhelming scale of climate change sometimes needs a friendlier approach to understand it.

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR SIGNIFY - In this image released on Thursday, July 26, 2018, is the Teide Observatory, Izana, Tenerife. The Milky Way is hidden from more than one-third of humanity.

Brainiac

A timely retraction

This astronomer aimed to report on a particular star’s brightness, but the brightness itself was in question.

This assessment aimed to understand how much salt is healthy.

Brainiac

Big Data: 95,767 participants

This assessment aimed to understand how much salt is healthy.

Women take photos on the Seine river banks on the Ile de la Cite where an urinal has been installed, Tuesday, Aug.14, 2018 in Paris. Some residents have written to the town hall to demand its removal from this touristic area not far away form Notre Dame Catheral. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: Sidewalk urinals

Paris took an unusual step to prevent public urination.

A “skunked term” means different things to different people, because its meaning is ambiguous or has changed over time.

Ideas | Jane Solomon

How ‘millennial’ got skunked

A “skunked term” means different things to different people, because its meaning is ambiguous or has changed over time.

Ideas | Juan Miró and Edmund Gordon

For universities, diversity is atonement for past sins

Diversity in higher education is part of making amends for historical complicity with systemic racism.

Ideas | Beth Wolfensberger Singer

A wish to right some wrongs

Cartoonist Beth Wolfensberger Singer envisions school-supply solutions to a thorny problem.

A Monster Jam truck performs during the first-ever monster truck event in Beijing's iconic

Ideas | Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

Monster trucks for everyone: Like gymnastics, but with more crashes

How good ol’ boy monster trucks went global (and family friendly).

This computer scientist got rejected from a journal — and then things got worse.

Brainiac

Retraction Watch: A question of authorship

This computer scientist got rejected from a journal — and then things got worse.

Researchers found that monitoring children who may have been exposed is key to potential early intervention.

Brainiac

Big Data: The impacts of Zika

Researchers found that monitoring children who may have been exposed is key to potential early intervention.

Researchers at UC Berkeley investigated a possible way to slow down global warming.

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: A veil to protect the planet

Researchers at UC Berkeley investigated a possible way to slow down global warming.

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.

Brainiac

Uncommon Knowledge: Fancy isn’t friendly

A collection of unusual insights from the social sciences.

Physicians, like combat soldiers, often face a profound and unrecognized threat to their well-being.

Ideas | Simon Talbot and Wendy Dean

Physicians aren’t ‘burning out.’ They’re suffering moral injury

Physicians, like combat soldiers, often face a profound and unrecognized threat to their well-being.

The identity of the parents of adopted children have long been kept secret. Genetic testing has made that impossible to maintain.

Ideas | S.I. Rosenbaum

The twilight of closed adoptions

The identity of the parents of adopted children have long been kept secret. Genetic testing has made that impossible to maintain.

Ideas | Sage Stossel

Time to take a vacation from politics

After a tense summer, wouldn’t it be nice to take a politics-free vacation?

Women turn out in large numbers, some carrying placards reading "We want beer," for the anti prohibition parade and demonstration in Newark, N.J., Oct. 28, 1932. More than 20,000 people took part in the mass demand for the repeal of the 18th Amendment. (AP Photo)

Brainiac

How did FDR really win in 1932?

This week in Uncommon Knowledge: presidential history, developing countries, and local newspapers.

Supporters of President Donald Trump shout down a CNN news crew before a rally Tuesday, July 31, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Brainiac

QAnon, the latest sprawling online conspiracy theory

As Pizzagate demonstrated, Internet conspiracies have consequences offline.