Fact or fantasy? Tales from the linguistic fringe

Paranormal claims and other pseudoscience often bedevil the study of language

Charles Q. Choi • knowable
Oct. 21, 2020 ~17 min

society qa

Wanted: Online gamers to help build a more stable Covid-19 vaccine

People beat artificial intelligence hands-down at puzzling out new ways to fold molecules for a potential SARS-Cov-2 immunization. Thousands more players are needed.

Rhiju Das • knowable
Oct. 20, 2020 ~8 min

health-disease reset

What legacy lies ahead for Black Lives Matter?

Historically, the road to reform has often begun with protesters taking to the streets. A sociologist and a political scientist take stock of whether today’s activism will lead to actual change.

Anil Ananthaswamy • knowable
Oct. 16, 2020 ~17 min

society qa

Seeking surprises in comets and asteroids

Exploring small bodies in the solar system provides clues to origins

Adam Mann • knowable
Oct. 16, 2020 ~18 min

space-astronomy physical-world

AI’s next big leap

The unlikely marriage of two major artificial intelligence approaches has given rise to a new hybrid called neurosymbolic AI. It’s taking baby steps toward reasoning like humans and might one day take the wheel in self-driving cars.

Anil Ananthaswamy • knowable
Oct. 14, 2020 ~22 min


The blueprint for life, neatly folded

Bit by bit, biologists are deciphering the complex 3-D — and 4-D — architecture of the genome and learning how all the squeezed-together stuff of DNA keeps itself in order. What they find could lead to medical advances.

John Wenz • knowable
Oct. 12, 2020 ~18 min


The danger lurking in an African lake

Kivu is no ordinary lake, with dense depths packed with methane and carbon dioxide gas. Its features hold aquatic puzzles, explosive hazards and the capacity to provide valuable energy.

John Wenz • knowable
Oct. 7, 2020 ~11 min

story-behind-a-picture physical-world

The pernicious contagion of misinformation

False statements — about Covid-19 and so much else — spread like a virus online. Scientists should study them like one.

Bob Holmes • knowable
Oct. 2, 2020 ~12 min

society qa

Solving the growing plastics waste puzzle

When polymers prove resistant to recycling, new chemical techniques can do the job of breaking them down for reuse

M. Mitchell Waldrop • knowable
Oct. 1, 2020 ~7 min

technology food-environment

Recycling meets reality

Modern industry has made great strides in turning trash into tomorrow’s new products, but the process is still a long way from perfect. New technologies can help. Plus, updates on chemical recycling, design for recycling and dirty recycling.

M. Mitchell Waldrop • knowable
Oct. 1, 2020 ~27 min

climate-change technology food-environment