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The Senate filibuster explained – and why it should be allowed to die

  • Written by Daniel Wirls, Professor of Politics, University of California, Santa Cruz
The filibuster is like a stoplight that's always red. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is the latest Democrat to argue an arcane Senate rule governing debate stands in the way of passing a progressive agenda, such as meaningful gun control.

The procedure, known as the filibuster, allows a 41-vote minority in the Senate to block...

Read more: The Senate filibuster explained – and why it should be allowed to die

The bizarre social history of beds

  • Written by Brian Fagan, Distinguished Professor Emeritus in Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara
For centuries, people thought nothing of crowding family members or friends into the same bed.miniwide/Shutterstock.com

Groucho Marx once joked, “Anything that can’t be done in bed isn’t worth doing at all.” You might think he was referring to sleeping and sex. But humans, at one time or another, have done just about...

Read more: The bizarre social history of beds

Why Sikhs wear a turban and what it means to practice the faith in the United States

  • Written by Simran Jeet Singh, Henry R. Luce Post-Doctoral Fellow in Religion in International Affairs Post-Doctoral Fellow, New York University
People participate in a candlelight vigil near the White House to protest violence against Sikhs in 2012.AP Photo/Susan Walsh

An elderly Sikh gentleman in Northern California, 64-year-old Parmjit Singh, was recently stabbed to death while taking a walk in the evening. Authorities are still investigating the killer’s motive, but community...

Read more: Why Sikhs wear a turban and what it means to practice the faith in the United States

A newly designed vaccine may help stamp out remaining polio cases worldwide

  • Written by Patricia L. Foster, Professor Emerita of Biology, Indiana University
The oral polio vaccine is most commonly used in the developing world, despite one big problem.CDC/Alan Janssen, MSPH, CC BY

Public health organizations around the world have been fighting for global eradication of polio since 1988. Through massive vaccination efforts, the incidence of polio has gone down 99% since then, with the virus eradicated...

Read more: A newly designed vaccine may help stamp out remaining polio cases worldwide

Why carbon dioxide has such outsized influence on Earth's climate

  • Written by Jason West, Professor of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Orbiting Carbon Observatory satellite makes precise measurements of Earth's carbon dioxide levels from space.NASA/JPL

I am often asked how carbon dioxide can have an important effect on global climate when its concentration is so small – just 0.041% of Earth’s atmosphere. And human activities are responsible for just 32% of that...

Read more: Why carbon dioxide has such outsized influence on Earth's climate

The womb isn't sterile – healthy babies are born with bacteria and fungi in their guts

  • Written by Kent Willis, Assistant Professor of Neonatology, University of Tennessee
New research suggests that a newborn is exposed to bacteria and fungi in the womb.stockce/Shutterstock

For the last hundred years, scientists have believed that humans develop in a womb that remains sterile and completely isolated from the collection of bacteria, fungi and viruses that make us sick when we emerge into the outside world.

This theory...

Read more: The womb isn't sterile – healthy babies are born with bacteria and fungi in their guts

Anti-vaccination mothers have outsized voice on social media – pro-vaccination parents could make a difference

  • Written by Brooke W. McKeever, Associate Professor, University of South Carolina
Vaccinations are important to protect against a host of diseases.www.shutterstock.com

A high school student from Ohio made national headlines recently by getting inoculated despite his family’s anti-vaccination beliefs.

Ethan Lindenberger, 18, who never had been vaccinated, had begun to question his parents’ decision not to immunize...

Read more: Anti-vaccination mothers have outsized voice on social media – pro-vaccination parents could make...

How a person vapes, not just what a person vapes, could also play a big role in vaping harm

  • Written by Risa Robinson, Professor and Department Chair, Mechanical Engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology
A smoking machine in the author's lab. Smoking by a machine is not the same as smoking by a person, the author and others have found.Katie DiFrancesco, CC BY-SA

In the wake of six deaths and 380 cases of confirmed and probable lung disease across the U.S., the Trump administration has called for banning most flavored e-cigarettes because of their...

Read more: How a person vapes, not just what a person vapes, could also play a big role in vaping harm

Why won't Democrats say they want government to solve problems?

  • Written by Jennifer Mercieca, Associate Professor of Communication, Texas A&M University
They didn't come out and say what they really mean.AP Photo/Eric Gay

All 10 Democratic candidates in the Houston debate Sept. 13 spoke about investing public money – taxpayer dollars – in education, health care and economic opportunity for Americans. Those ideas depend on an underlying point none of them came out and said directly:...

Read more: Why won't Democrats say they want government to solve problems?

Top Democrats discussed 'Medicare for All' at Houston debate, but what about healthy food for all?

  • Written by Patricia Smith, Professor of Economics, University of Michigan
The Democratic candidates discussed health care a lot – but not healthy food. AP Photo/David J. Phillip

The 10 Democrats who took the debate stage on Sept. 12 discussed many critical issues, from health care and climate change. But one important topic they didn’t discuss was access to healthy food.

As a researcher focused on nutrition...

Read more: Top Democrats discussed 'Medicare for All' at Houston debate, but what about healthy food for all?

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