Coronavirus: The economics of contagious disease

How should we think about the tension between opening the economy back up and preserving public health?

What are the major missteps the global community is making that will need to be addressed to prepare us for future pandemics? Is the US economy ready to reopen?


What are the major missteps the global community is making that will need to be addressed to prepare us for future pandemics? Is the US economy ready to reopen? In this Big Think Live session with Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs, you'll learn about the public health assumptions that must be rethought and how we can mobilize ourselves and our systems for a more sustainable long-term future.

Ask your questions for Jeffrey Sachs during the live Q&A!

How tiny bioelectronic implants may someday replace pharmaceutical drugs

Scientists are using bioelectronic medicine to treat inflammatory diseases, an approach that capitalizes on the ancient "hardwiring" of the nervous system.

Credit: Adobe Stock / SetPoint Medical
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Bioelectronic medicine is an emerging field that focuses on manipulating the nervous system to treat diseases.
  • Clinical studies show that using electronic devices to stimulate the vagus nerve is effective at treating inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Although it's not yet approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, vagus nerve stimulation may also prove effective at treating other diseases like cancer, diabetes and depression.
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Toward a disease-sniffing device that rivals a dog’s nose

Trained dogs can detect cancer and other diseases by smell. Could a device do the same?

JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images
Technology & Innovation

Numerous studies have shown that trained dogs can detect many kinds of disease — including lung, breast, ovarian, bladder, and prostate cancers, and possibly Covid-19 — simply through smell. In some cases, involving prostate cancer for example, the dogs had a 99 percent success rate in detecting the disease by sniffing patients' urine samples.

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Scientists are building Earth’s virtual twin

Their goal is a digital model of the Earth that depicts climate change in all of its complexity.

Credit: Theis/Adobe Stock
Technology & Innovation
  • The European Union envisions an ambitious digital twin of the Earth to simulate climate change.
  • The project is a unique collaboration between Earth science and computer experts.
  • The digital twin will allow policymakers to audition expansive geoengineering projects meant to address climate change.
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Archaeologists identify contents of ancient Mayan drug containers

Scientists use new methods to discover what's inside drug containers used by ancient Mayan people.

Credit: WSU
Surprising Science
  • Archaeologists used new methods to identify contents of Mayan drug containers.
  • They were able to discover a non-tobacco plant that was mixed in by the smoking Mayans.
  • The approach promises to open up new frontiers in the knowledge of substances ancient people consumed.
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New research shows that bullies are often friends

Remedies must honor the complex social dynamics of adolescence.

Photo: rawpixel / Adobe Stock
Surprising Science
  • Bullies are likely to be friends according to new research published in the American Journal of Sociology.
  • The researchers write that complex social dynamics among adolescents allow the conditions for intragroup dominance.
  • The team uses the concept of "frenemies" to describe the relationship between many bullies and victims.
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