Global warming: 50 per cent of the public think the Earth is getting warmer mainly because of human activity while 87 per cent of scientists do

A push to dispel suspicions of things such as pesticides has had little effect

Theoretical physicist Albert Einstein in 1944: his theory of general relativity describes how the large-scale universe works in terms of space, time and gravity. Photograph: Popperfoto/Getty Images

Some physicists claim the universe sprang spontaneously out of nothing at all about 13.5 billion years ago

A widely cited 2013 study  estimates that 47 per cent of American jobs are at high risk of being computerised soon

It was feared ATMs would displace bank tellers. However, deployment of ATMs reduces bank running costs, allowing banks to open mor(...)

Tanzania, Africa: life for these  Hadza hunter-gatherers can be very physically demanding

William Reville: Studies show hunter-gatherers burn no more calories a day than sedentary office workers

1948: A classroom scene during a maths lesson. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

We need to combat technology-induced lazy brain syndrome caused by texting and calculators

How did we lose the will to replace ourselves and, knowing the demographic consequences of losing that will, can we reclaim it?

Handlers bathing a horse in the Caribbean Sea near Bridgetown, Barbados. We must now extend the range of the water cycle to include the mantle of the Earth. Photograph: Reuters/Adrees Latif

William Reville: The discovery of vast reservoirs of water deep within the Earth is an example of the power of science to excite w(...)

Collision of a 10km-wide asteroid with Earth 65 million years ago wiped out the dinosaurs but a future collision with an even smaller asteroid could have disastrous consequences for humanity. Image: iStock

David Grinspoon’s new book highlights the self-imposed and natural threats to survival

The general public distrusts much of science-based technology such as genetic modification. Above, a protest against biotech giant Monsanto in Costa Rica in May. Photograph: Ezequiel Becerra/AFP/Getty Images

Public control could allow ideological or economic forces to distort a rational agenda

An Indonesian man, Mbah Gotho, aged 146, is the oldest human in world history. Photograph: Dasril Roszandi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

If it were possible, would it be desirable

A photographer takes pictures of the reconstruction of Neanderthal man’s ancestor displayed in Halle, eastern Germany. Photograph: Sebastian Willnow/AFP/Getty Images

William Reville: One theory proposes that they were assimilated into modern human stock by interbreeding

Photograph: iStock

A controversial study of sexuality and gender claims to focus solely on the scientific evidence

Down syndrome births account for about one in every 546. Photograph: iStock

How do people with Down syndrome feel when they hear predictions of the elimination of their kind?

Our closest animal relatives are the great apes – chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas

Since 95 per cent of human DNA is identical to that of a chimpanzee, do chimps have a sense of morality?

Erik Zackrisson’s study indicates there are far fewer places than we thought where life such as ours could evolve. Photograph: iStock

A computer model has found Earth to be uniquely suited to life among 700 million trillion terrestrial planets

BabyPod is designed to make the unborn baby smarter by playing music through the mother’s vagina

Despite an industry around it, no research data shows that playing music to babies in the womb will boost IQ

Conceptual computer artwork representing the origin of the universe. File photograph: Science Photo Library

Three different hypotheses of dark energy predict different futures for our universe

Hungarian Greenpeace activists demonstrate against genetically modified organism food. Photograph: Ferenc Isza/AFP/Getty Images

Golden rice could save lives in developing countries, but activists continue to resist it in the face of the evidence

Image: iStock

The risk of extinction in the next 100 years is 9.5 per cent – how seriously should we take this?

Children in Auschwitz concentration camp just before liberatoin

Viktor Frankl studied people in concentration camps who found ways to keep going despite their dire situation

A fecal transplant paper was retractedfor containing fraudulent data. Photograph: iStock

Scientists are not required to subscribe to any universal code of ethics. This needs to change

Photograph: iStock

Despite Europe’s wonderful heritage, the continent is losing faith in itself, and birth rates have collapsed

Students recently lobbied Cardiff University to cancel a lecture by Germaine Greer, labelling her “transphobic”. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Trigger warnings and other student-drive trends in universities will do much more harm than good

Ninety per cent of smokers regret taking up the habit, and 40 per cent attempt to quit each year. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

We license the use of all other drugs that can be dangerous if improperly used – why not tobacco?

Photograph: Thinkstock

Based on current understanding of how our planet formed, the answer is almost inevitably yes

Photograph: Thinkstock

Measuring a person’s body-mass index is not the most reliable way of assessing their health

Oscar Wilde offered sage advice about forgiving one’s enemies

Research suggests that forgiving people can bring peace, happiness and emotional wellbeing

A surface sensor, or skin patch

Implanted devices are being developed that can feed health data to a computer and then disappear

Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Photograph: Gleb Garanich/Reuters

When it comes to the safety of GM crops and the effects of the Chernobyl disaster, environmental campaigners ignore the facts

Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The value of vaccination is long proven but fears still exist, leading the WHO to correct the misconceptions

A nuclear fusion research centre at the Max-Planck-Institut for Plasma Physics in Germany. Photograph: Stefan Sauer/EPA

Serious progress is being made with nuclear fusion, which has huge potential for generating clean energy

Photograph: Thinkstock

One study suggests that family and spiritual activities make people more satisfied than the material aspects

Photograph: Thinkstock

It may become possible soon to harvest large supplies of organs from genetically engineered pigs

Induced pluripotent stem cells. Photograph: Shinya Yamanaka/AP Photo

A new technique may negate the need to use human embryos to create stem cells

‘Experts agree that most people who claim alien abduction experiences are sane and sincerely believe they have encountered aliens.’ Photograph: Thinkstock

Many people sincerely believe they have had such experiences, but there might be a simple reason

Illustration: Thinkstock

Delaying retirement, taking exercise and fidgeting while sitting might contribute to good health

MRI scan of a human head. Photograph: Thinkstock

A discovery in the 1970s challenged ideas about how the brain works. So why did medical science ignore it?

The traditional teaching method, unfashionable since the 1960s, focuses on explicit instruction of the students by the teacher. Photograph: Richards/Fox Photos/Getty Images

So-called ‘drilling’ teaching methods may be unpopular nowadays, but they have been proven effective

Photograph: Thinkstock

Getting away from the daily grind is good for your health, but it’s important to avoid that smartphone

Taking regular exercise is one extender of youth. Photograph: Thinkstock

About 80 per cent of the factors that determine ageing are not genetic; we can exercise control over them

The ground-breaking psychiatrists Sigmund Freud uncovered the flawed nature of the human psyche. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

The freedom pendulum has swung too far, and the assumption about humans’ innate goodness is flawed

‘This is highly illogical’: Leonard Nimoy as Spock

It seems we are all susceptible to illogical thinking, including scientists and philosophers

Nearly all corn and soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified. Above, activists take part in a march against US agrochemical giant Monsanto and GMO foods in Los Angeles. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

GM foods are widely misunderstood by the public. They offer advantages that we forgo at our peril

Chief concerns with the way scientists do research include inadequate understanding of statistics, publishing studies that can’t be reproduced because they used shoddy procedures or didn’t have enough data, or because they ‘spun’ the data to please sponsors. Photograph: Thinkstock

The modern world depends on science, but as much as half of the literature may not be fit for purpose

‘The 1998 study by Andrew Wakefield [above] and others that linked autism to the MMR vaccine has been comprehensively debunked by now’. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

It seems that most of the apparent increase in autism spectrum disorder is down to reporting practices

In a 2003 experiment, ‘short-changed’ monkeys became upset. Above, a capuchin monkey. Photograph: Thinkstock

We humans share an innate sense of fairness – and of righteous grievance – with other primates

Does music help us to deal with cognitive dissonance? Photograph: Thinkstock

One hypothesis is that music helps us to reconcile our conflicted emotions when making choices

Research shows that feelings of loneliness increase risk of death by 26 per cent, lack of social connections increases risk of death by 29 per cent and living alone increases risk of death by 32 per cent. Photograph: Thinkstock

It is predicted that loneliness could reach epidemic proportions by 2030 – and it is very bad for your health

Physicist Lee Smolin contends that cosmologists should test hypotheses against the properties and history of our universe

Physics and cosmology have veered down a non-scientific cul-de-sac, a leading physicist has argued

 The World Health Organisation says that, when it comes to cancer, no amount of alcohol is safe

Risks associated with high consumption are clear, but research shows mild drinking can have benefits

In the whole-class teaching method, the teacher stands at the blackboard, teaches the whole class the established body of knowledge, tests the children with questions and ensures a disciplined class environment. This type of teaching was the norm in Ireland until the 1960s. Above, schoolchildren in the west of Ireland in 1955. Photograph: Three Lions/Getty Images

Whole-class teaching, in which childern learn to use their long-term memory, has been abandoned for a more personalised, naturalis(...)

Bad news for those who regularly run marathons or ultra-marathons: such running can damage your health. Photograph: Thinkstock

Even a little regular exercise can boost your health, but beware: pushing your body too hard is damaging

‘In December a well-argued letter to The Irish Times by David Walsh took the field of women’s studies to task for promoting the ideological notion that gender is a social construct in the face of scientific evidence that biology plays a prominent role’

A study argues that more diversity among academics would improve social psychology research

The former home of George Boole in Cork. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

The research of the ‘father of pure mathematics’ was significantly motivated by his faith

Our capacity for co-operation has deep evolutionary roots and scientists have been studying this in chimpanzees and bonobos (above), our closest living relatives. Photograph: Thinkstock

Studies suggest that co-operation played a far bigger role than aggression, but is that to underestimate our bloodlust?

Recent research suggests that mindfulness meditation can make pain less bothersome to those who practise it. Photograph: Thinkstock

Meditation can be helpful, but its efficacy depends on the ends for which it is used

Photograph: Thinkstock

Resuscitation medicine can now revive people who have been dead for hours, and some of them have intriguing stories to tell

As grasslands cover nearly 60 per cent of the Irish landscape, the quantity of carbon dioxide sequestered annually in Irish soils is enormous but is not allowed to be factored in under current accounting procedures. Photograph: Thinkstock

Research indicates carbon emissions from grasslands are much smaller than current calculations

The culpably faulty study that claimed to find a link between MMR vaccination and autism scared many parents, who stopped vaccinating their children. Photograph: Thinkstock

Loss of public trust will be the most serious consequence if misconduct is not eliminated

Ikaria: the island’s inhabitants live 10 years longer than Americans before contracting cancer or cardiovascular disease, and suffer much less from depression. Photograph: Thinkstock

It’s no myth: on Ikaria a mix of contentment, diet and social interaction extend life well beyond the norm

Are all brains preloaded with a reservoir of remarkable abilities that are lying dormant?

Pinocchio learned all about the damage lies can cause

Lies told to spare people’s feelings are generally considered harmless, but some scientists disagree

A leg up? Not all self-help books are worthy of the name

Avoid any approach that hasn’t been verified by independent data or that promises a quick fix

How much of reality can be explained by the physical sciences?

Materialists claim that the self is illusory and free will doesn’t exist, but many scientists disagree

Selling cigarettes to under-18s is already illegal, but this does not prevent young people from obtaining them

The British Medial Association’s move to block the sale of cigarettes to those born after 2000 is understandable but would prove c(...)

It is possible to achieve checkmate in a well-known five-step manoeuvre, but also using a much less familiar three-move sequence. Photograph: Thinkstock

Familiarity with the tried and tested can prevent us from seeking out more efficient solutions

How can God affect our lives? Kosslyn uses the analogy of a flock of geese navigating a long migration. Photograph: Thinkstock

Stephen Kosslyn once put forward the intriguing notion that God exists but is not supernatural

Imagine the horror of being fully conscious but unable to communicate. Research is helping to break this barrier

Photograph: Thinkstock

Calculate your BMI but also check the ratio of waist-to-hip circumference and be ultra- conscious of abdominal fat

A recent study into fat is not a green light to load up on steak and butter, one nutrition expert warns

The human brain can be bilingual even before birth. Photograph: Thinkstock

Multilingual people are better at reasoning and multitasking, and work faster and with less effort

Stop sniggering down the back: the delicate question of how dinosaurs had sex remains a mystery

Growing evidence should greatly trouble us when we consider how poultry is treated on factory farms

Many people take supplements of vitamins A, C and E, thinking these antioxidants will help to ward off cancer

Recent Swedish research suggests that antioxidant dietary supplements may actually increase cancer risk in certain people

An anti-pylon protest at Mahon Falls, Co Waterford, last year. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan

Latest studies fail to support claims that overhead cables represent a danger to the public

The simple message of Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 documentary Super Size Me is wrong

As studies show, it is unwise to demonise fast food but wise to eat it only very occasionally

Richard Dawkins: according to him, belief in God is childishly unreasonable. Photograph: David Levenson/Getty Images

Opposition to religion stems from the fact that many of these scientists are fundamentalist materialists

The latest study in the US adds to the argument that links with lung cancer may not be as strong as previously believed

There is a popular tendency to 
demonise fast food and sugary drinks as the major contributors to

There is much more behind the obesity problem than sugary drinks and fast food. Genetics are key

Progress has been slow because the roots of the disease hide in the fantastic complexity of our cells

An increasing proportion of the scientific literature is irreproducible, with major consequences for progress

There are two competing theories to explain the causes of obesity, and they are about to be tested

A child at a March Against Monsanto in Los Angeles, California, last week. Photograph: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Genetic modification is still highly controversial despite extensive research having failed to produce evidence of harm

Two big studies were published exploring the origins of monogamy in mammals.

Two research groups area at loggerheads over the implications of their studies for human evolution

If you consistently ingest more calories than you burn off, you will become obese.

It’s time to re-think the advice given to those struggling with obesity about what food is good

The potential of a new technology to slow down global warming does not excuse continuing paralysis

Science is the best tool available to allow us to pursue objective truths, but scientists are human like the rest of us

Takanori Takebe team's work is the first step in growing replacement livers from stem cells for transplants. Photograph: Getty

Scientists have shown ‘proof of concept’ that a working human liver can be built in the lab from stem cells

A side effect of smallpox eradication is a lack of immunity to other strains that can be just as lethal

Learning how to open and close this intriguing gateway could lead to cures for many perplexing diseases

Empathy is strongly aroused by “the identifiable victim effect” – stories of misfortunes or tragedies that occur to individual or small groups of identifiable people, covered extensively in the media, such as the 20 children who were shot dead at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut last December. Photograph: Reuters

When empathy causes us to ignore logic or science, its consequences can be harmful to all

The birth
 rate required to keep the population steady (replacement birth
 rate) is 2.1 children per woman, and this rate was set as the demographic goal 
in order
to stabili
se population. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Birth rates need to be 2.1 to ensure the species does not peter out. But modern life poses a threat to posterity

Amino acids have been detected in outer space and in meteorites that have landed on Earth. Photograph: PA

Amino acids have been detected in space and in meteorites that landed on Earth

Identifying where personhood begins is vitalto the ethical debate

Biology doesn’t just affect you physically; it can shape your ideas and politics

There is a strong biological basis to gender and it cannot be healthy to frustrate such tendencies

Catastrophic global outbreak of TB feared

OPINION: I’ve taught many students that one of the most dangerous things they do is breathe

Opinion: The film Jurassic Park featured dinosaurs cloned from DNA recovered from insects preserved in prehistoric amber

Consider how you would act in the following situations.

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