The Dream of “Disconnected Psychology”

A thought-provoking paper proposes a way to advance psychology: by encouraging researchers to ignore previous work in the field. The piece is called Unburdening the Shoulders of Giants: A Quest for Disconnected Academic Psychology and it appeared in Perspectives on Psychological Science. According to author Dario Krpan, academic psychology is failing to fully explore the […]

The Ancient Practice of Child Labor Is Coming to Light

This story appears in the June 2020 issue as “More Than Child’s Play.” Subscribe to Discover magazine for more stories like this. The tattered leather slipper would have fit a child under the age of 10. Well preserved for footwear nearly 3,000 years old, it was discovered decades ago in the Hallstatt salt mine. Together with other […]

What Do COVID-19 Antibody Tests Show — and Can the Results Be Trusted?

Physician Michael Saag has already had COVID-19, and a recent blood test confirmed his antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus are through the roof. But the infectious disease specialist isn’t taking any chances, and still wears full personal protective gear when seeing COVID-19 patients. “I don’t want to be cavalier and expose myself to people with […]

Wandering Stars Pass Near Our Solar System Surprisingly Often

Every 50,000 years or so, a nomadic star passes near our solar system. Most brush by without incident. But, every once in a while, one comes so close that it gains a prominent place in Earth’s night sky, as well as knocks distant comets loose from their orbits.  The most famous of these stellar interlopers […]

The Psychological Importance of Extraordinary Experiences

This story appears in the June 2020 issue as “Awe-Struck.” Subscribe to Discover magazine for more stories like this. The first time I ventured to Western Canada’s Selkirk Mountains, I was a tourist. My family and I arrived in a small mountain town via ferry, snapping photos as we passed by stunning vistas of lake, mountain and sky. […]

Do Humans Have a ‘Mating Season’?

What is the most common birth date in the U.S.? According to data from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, it’s Sept. 9. In fact, September as a whole is a very busy month in U.S. delivery rooms. And, for those of you doing the math, that makes December a very busy month for, […]

How Will COVID-19 Contact Tracing Apps Work in the U.S.?

As government officials begin easing restrictions implemented during the early months of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, they are looking for new ways to track and slow the spread of the virus. Contact tracing — the practice of identifying those exposed to infected individuals — is part of this effort. For COVID-19, however, public health officials have […]

Pluto’s Weird Atmosphere Just Collapsed

Pluto’s atmosphere is hard to observe from Earth. It can only be studied when Pluto passes in front of a distant star, allowing astronomers to see the effect the atmosphere has on starlight. When this happened in 2016, it confirmed that Pluto’s atmosphere was growing, a trend that astronomers had observed since 1988, when they noticed […]

When Do Babies’ Microbiomes Begin to Form?

A lot happens during pregnancy. In the months before birth, a baby’s brain forms, their heart thumps for the first time and their fingernails sprout. At some point, a baby’s gut, skin and other organs will be populated with trillions of beneficial bacteria — the microbiome. But does that happen before birth, or after? For […]

The Familiar Plants and Animals That Invaded America’s Landscape

The emotional attachment to the feral horses, says Gornish, is disastrous for both the horses and the environment. These horses are destroying vulnerable habitat very quickly, especially native plant communities. “However, people really dislike the ideas of killing horses, so they push back against control measures,” she says.  The result is too many horses in […]