Is autism caused by environmental or genetic factors?

When it comes to lifelong conditions like autism spectrum disorder, we tend to be biased in a way that obscures reality.

  • Judging from their headlines, two recent studies seem to produce contradictory findings in regard to whether autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is mostly due to the environment or mostly due to genetics.
  • Digging deeper, however, it's clear that they do not contradict; taken together, they paint a clearer picture of the nature of ASD than we had before.
  • This potential misunderstanding serves to highlight what can happen when we focus too much on a science news headline and not on the context of scientific results.
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Stand up against religious discrimination – even if it’s not your religion

As religious diversity increases in the United States, we must learn to channel religious identity into interfaith cooperation.

Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Religious diversity is the norm in American life, and that diversity is only increasing, says Eboo Patel.
  • Using the most painful moment of his life as a lesson, Eboo Patel explains why it's crucial to be positive and proactive about engaging religious identity towards interfaith cooperation.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
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Moon landing astronauts reveal they possibly infected Earth with space germs

Two Apollo 11 astronauts question NASA's planetary safety procedures.

  • Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins revealed that there were deficiencies in NASA's safety procedures following the Apollo 11 mission.
  • Moon landing astronauts were quarantined for 21 days.
  • Earth could be contaminated with lunar bacteria.
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8 ways to halt a global food crisis

The future of food sounds bleak, but it doesn't need to be this way.

There are serious challenges to global food supply everywhere we look. Intensive use of fertilisers in the US Midwest is causing nutrients to run off into rivers and streams, degrading the water quality and causing a Connecticut-size dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Scientists develop an 'EpiPen' for brain and spinal cord injuries

This new research could help individuals recover from one of the most dreaded types of injury.

Surprising Science
  • Brain and spinal cord injuries are notoriously difficult to treat, with many existing methods of treatment provoking undesirable side effects.
  • Now, new research demonstrated a novel technique using nanoparticles to "program" the body's immune cells such that they don't cause any unintended damage and promote healing.
  • Since they don't involve any pharmaceuticals, the use of nanoparticles circumvents the dangerous side effects of other treatments.
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Belly fat: Gut bacteria checks could lead to personalized diets

The reason one diet does not suit all may be found in our guts.

Media for Medical / Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • New research shows that there's no one diet that works for everyone.
  • Instead, gut bacteria may hold the key to personalized diet plans.
  • A future doctor may check gut bacteria to offer diet advice.
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A new spray may help treat the deadly white-nose syndrome

Bats are being subjected to a deadly plague that may be threatening their existence. However, a new bacterial spray may help fight the fungus responsible.

Surprising Science
  • Since 2006, white-nose syndrome has killed millions and millions of bats, threatening many species with extinction.
  • Bats may not be everybody's idea of a cute and cuddly animal, but losing them would be devastating to the ecosystem.
  • Fortunately, researchers are hard at work trying to uncover a means of dealing with this fungal disease. One such treatment is the use of the antifungal bacteria Pseudomonas fluorescens.
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