Dignity therapy: Making the last words count

Guided conversations with the terminally ill are popular with patients, families and doctors who’ve experienced them. But are they truly beneficial? Researchers are looking beneath the anecdotal appeal.

Lola Butcher • knowable
Oct. 4, 2021 ~13 min

Now is the time to prepare for the economic shocks of battling climate change

Shedding reliance on fossil fuels is key to making the leap from a carbon-intensive present to a greener future. Experts say that smart planning and transparent policymaking can ease the transition — and balance the worst financial risks.

Eryn Brown • knowable
Sept. 30, 2021 ~14 min

How to handle climate anxiety

Worry over the planet’s future is taking a toll on emotional well-being, researchers say. Here’s how to cope so we don’t lose hope for our planet and for ourselves.

James Gaines • knowable
Sept. 29, 2021 ~15 min

Why we are developing a patent-free Covid antiviral therapy

OPINION: During global health crises such as pandemics, drug discovery should be publicly funded and open, with no research secrets locked away

Alpha Lee • knowable
Sept. 27, 2021 ~11 min

Can ranked-choice voting heal our poisoned politics?

The electoral reform also known as instant-runoff voting promises bridge-building and broad appeal instead of culture war and gridlock

M. Mitchell Waldrop • knowable
Sept. 24, 2021 ~18 min

Animals that take advice from bacteria

The larvae of many marine creatures drift in the plankton, then settle to the seafloor and transform into adults. Bacteria often help the critters pick where to settle — and that may be just a snippet of a far more extensive conversation.

Bob Holmes • knowable
Sept. 22, 2021 ~9 min

Are we ready? Understanding just how big solar flares can get

Recasting the iconic Carrington Event as just one of many superstorms in Earth’s past, scientists reveal the potential for even more massive, and potentially destructive, eruptions from the sun

Christopher Crockett • knowable
Sept. 17, 2021 ~16 min

The two sides of envy at work

When workers feel envious of their peers, it can undermine collaborations — or inspire them to do better on the job. Can organizations harness the green gremlin to boost productivity?

Lesley Evans Ogden • knowable
Sept. 11, 2021 ~13 min

Salmonella: Why it’s a chicken and egg thing

Eliminating this food-poisoning bacterium from poultry is tricky — not least because rapid, precise tests are still unavailable. Researchers are looking at vaccines, probiotics, prebiotics and even essential oils as ways to reduce contamination on the farm.

Maureen O'Hagan • knowable
Sept. 10, 2021 ~14 min

To understand airborne transmission of disease, follow the flow

Viruses and bacteria travel in fluids, such as the air we breathe. Studying exhalations, toilet flushes and rain drops, with math and modeling, can sharpen the big-picture view of how to prevent infections.

Anil Ananthaswamy • knowable
Sept. 4, 2021 ~24 min