Gravitational waves, or ripples in the fabric of space-time, have captured the imagination of physicists since Albert Einstein first predicted them in 1916. But it wasn’t until the 1960s that Joseph Weber, an experimental physicist at the University of Maryland, built the first machine meant to find them. Click here to read more
For sighted people, it can be difficult to imagine learning math, let alone mastering it, without vision (or even with it). In grade schools, mathematics instruction tends to rely heavily on visual aids—our fingers, pieces of pie, and equations scribbled on paper. Psychology and neuroscience support the notion that math and sight are tightly intertwined. Click here to read more.
Under certain circumstances, shame may spur positive change, including cooperation and a desire to make amends. Psychologists are finding that there are many shades of shame—some better than others in promoting constructive behavior—and that the way we communicate disapproval to a wrongdoer can lead to drastically different outcomes. This new research could transform the way we handle crime and punishment, whether in the courtroom or at home. Click to read more (Note: This feature is behind a paywall)
It’s rare for young children to kill. But there are exceptions. Last October, an 8-year-old boy in Alabama strangled a toddler to death. That same month, an 11-year-old in Tennessee shot and killed another child after an argument over puppies. Between 1980 and 2008, children under age 14 made just up 0.5% of homicide offenders, according to data from the US Department of Justice. When children do take the lives of others, society must face a question no one wants to confront: At what age can children be held responsible for their actions? Click to read more
More than one in 10 Americans older than 12 takes antidepressants, according to a 2011 report by the National Center for Health Statistics. A significant but unknown number of children younger than 12 take them, too. Although most such drugs are not approved for young children, doctors have prescribed them off-label for years because they have been thought to have relatively mild side effects. Yet recent reports have revealed that important data about the safety of these drugs—especially their risks for children and adolescents—have been withheld from the medical community and the public. Click to read more (This story is also available in Spanish)
In the human form of mad cow disease, called Creutzfeldt-Jakob, a person's brain deteriorates—literally developing holes that cause rapidly progressing dementia. The condition is fatal within one year in 90 percent of cases. The culprits behind the disease are prions—misfolded proteins that can induce normal proteins around them to also misfold and accumulate. Scientists have known that these self-propagating, pathological proteins cause some rare brain disorders, such as kuru in Papua New Guinea. But growing evidence suggests that prions are at play in many, if not all, neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's, Huntington's and Parkinson's, also marked by aggregations of malformed proteins. Click to read more