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.

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!

Engineering a smart Band-Aid

What does it take to engineer a smart Band-Aid? Biomedical engineer Ali Khademhosseini walks us through the future of Band-Aids, and how he and his team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are testing them.

Robots in a human world

From disaster recovery to caring for the elderly in the home, NSF-funded scientists and engineers are developing robots that can handle critical tasks in close proximity to humans, safely and with greater resilience than previous generations of intelligent machines.