People & Society

Out of fascination and need, people have always studied other people. When scientific methods are applied to those observations, the studies help characterize and analyze our behavior, social and political institutions, family and community structures and our economies. Scientific studies of people and society help answer age-old human contemplations.

DNA Scientist is honored by President for mentoring science students

DNA scientist Bruce Jackson Bruce Jackson heads the Biotechnology Programs at Massachusetts Bay Community College. His work focuses on how DNA - in conjunction with other tools - can help solve mysteries of ancestry, forensics and evolution. Through his African-American Roots Project, he helps reunite African-Americans with their ancestral roots in Africa.

The sweet science of chocolate

Everybody loves chocolate, but did you know that small daily doses of dark chocolate improve vascular function, reduce pregnancy complications, and lighten gloomy moods? But while it's easy to appreciate, creating this confection is an elaborate feat. Local chocolate-makers explain the precision engineering and chemistry behind the beloved treat.

Cybersecurity

Researchers work to counter a new class of coffee shop hackers

NSF Science Now: Episode 30

Hosted by NSF's Dena Headlee, Science Now is a weekly newscast covering some of the latest in NSF-funded innovation and advances across all areas and disciplines, from astronomy to zoology. This fast paced, news round-up reports many of the week's top stories.

Catching up on sleep science

It's time to wake up to the importance of sleep. Groundbreaking 2013 research shows that our brain cells shrink while we sleep, allowing a cleansing fluid to rinse away toxic proteins that lead to Alzheimer's. Sleep also "backs up" important memories into the brain's cortex for long-term storage. Learn about how sleep changes as we age, and why getting enough sleep is so critical for health.

Catching up on sleep science

Be honest: Do you ever brag about how little sleep you get? If so, you're not alone. Humans are the only species that seems to deliberately deprive themselves of sleep. But if you've ever uttered a phrase like, "I'll sleep when I'm dead," scientists say it's time for a wake-up call.

Enormous underwater fossil graveyard found

Anthropologists and paleontologists uncovered what could be the largest single collection of lemur remains ever found. The remains were hidden in a series of underwater caves in a remote desert region of Madagascar. Described as a "lemur graveyard," the discovery of hundreds of potentially 1,000-year-old skeletons make it one of the most unique animal gravesites in the world. This discovery could be important for understanding animal and human ancestry, and result in a new era for underwater paleontology.

Bolstering our food banks

The number of people going hungry in North Carolina has soared to more than one in six. Among children, the number is one in four. It often falls to the state's nonprofit food banks to provide relief from that food insecurity.

NSF Science Now: Episode 29

In this week's episode we discover a new genetic toolkit for achieving increased plant production, explore what our brain is doing when we read, discover ways of making a more reliable prosthesis, and, finally, we learn how researchers are working to better forecast the size of future earthquakes and tsunamis. Check it out!