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The omicron variant possesses numerous mutations in the spike protein, the knob-like protrusions (in red) that allow the virus to invade other cells. Juan Gaertner/Science Photo Library via Getty Images

Will omicron – the new coronavirus variant of concern – be more contagious than delta? A virus evolution expert explains what researchers know and what they don’t

It’s too early to say whether the newly identified omicron variant is going to overtake delta. But particular mutations in the new strain have researchers deeply concerned.
Incentives like rebates for insulation or allowing homeowners to sell energy from solar panels were more popular than taxing for excess energy use. Lourdes Balduque via Getty Images

Americans support climate change policies, especially those that give them incentives and clean up the energy supply

A set of studies found people prefer incentives to disincentives, especially for individuals but also for businesses. They have views on clean energy and efficiency, too.
Research groups supported by the U.S. BRAIN Initiative recently released the most comprehensive map of cell types in the motor cortex of humans, monkeys and mice. Andriy Onufriyenko/Moment via Getty Images

Mapping how the 100 billion cells in the brain all fit together is the brave new world of neuroscience

Scientists have been mapping the brain for centuries. New visualization tools bring them one step closer to understanding where thoughts come from and new ways to treat neurological disorders.
Gun violence spiked in more than half of all U.S. states in the first 13 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Gun violence soared during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study finds – but the reasons why are complex

The pandemic brought about a sharp rise in mental health concerns, deep unemployment and an unprecedented amount of social isolation – a potentially deadly combination alongside rising gun sales.
The Denali Highway as it crosses the Susitna River. Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Infrastructure bill passed by Congress promises billions for bridge repair – rural Alaska shows the growing need as temperatures rise

Alaska is warming faster than any other U.S. state, and that’s causing problems, a team of bridge engineers and social scientists explains. The infrastructure bill in Congress would offer some help.
Several lawmakers from high-tax states like New York are pushing for changes to a key tax deduction in Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending package. Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Some rich people will love at least one sweetener in Democrats’ $3.5 trillion plan

The 2017 tax cuts put a $10,000 cap on the deduction for state and local taxes. The richest households would see the biggest gains from eliminating or raising the cap.
Protesters gather at Indiana University in June 2021 to demonstrate against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for students, staff and faculty. SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Forceful vaccine messages backfire with holdouts – how can it be done better?

Subtly shifting the crafting and delivery of public health messaging on COVID-19 vaccines could go a long way toward persuading many of the unvaccinated to get the shot.
What’s on the table during Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Washington visit? Drew Angerer/Getty Images

What’s on the agenda when Ukraine president meets Biden?

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to seek commitments from his US counterpart, pledging support in his country’s ongoing battle with the Russian Federation.

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