The Chicago Tribune's "Playing With Fire" series investigated how two powerful industries — Big Tobacco and chemical manufacturers — waged deceptive campaigns that led to the proliferation of flame retardant chemicals, which don’t even work as promised.

Michael Hawthorne drops some knowledge on us

By Mitch Ryals Columbia, MO — By the time Michael Hawthorne was about 4 years old, his mom was already sick of his questions. The innately curious Hawthorne continued asking them through middle and high schools as he worked on school papers, though it wasn’t until college that he realized his dream was to become a big shot…

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Behind the BRAIN Initiative

By Caleb O’Brien DENVER – The Obama Administration’s initiative to “revolutionize our understanding of the human mind and uncover new ways to treat, prevent, and cure brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury,” may be less substantial and less likely to produce breakthrough cures than the Administration has suggested. Speaking at…

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The art of prosthesis: Making fake hands real

By Heidi Li DENVER — In The Empire Strikes Back, after Luke’s right hand was severed by his enemy Vader, he was fitted with a prosthetic hand. We are not far from the end of the movie, when Luke felt the pokes on his prosthetic fingers, as one might think, a bioengineering scientist said at…

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The Farm Effect: One facet of the allergy epidemic

By Rebecca Dell  DENVER — Could farms be a solution to our allergy epidemic? A phenomenon called the farm effect, studied by Dr. Mark Holbreich of Allergy and Asthma Consultants, suggests that children who are consistently exposed to farm environments from a young age are less like to develop allergies. Holbreich was one of four allergy experts convened…

A statue of Norman Borlaug stands near the entrance to the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, a research center dedicated to improving wheat varieties worldwide to end food insecurity. The center is located in Ciudad Obregon, Mexico. Photo by Meghan Eldridge

Norman Borlaug: the hero you’ve probably never heard of

By Meghan Eldridge  CIUDAD OBREGON, Mexico — With three other students from the University of Missouri, one fellow journalist and two students from science disciplines, I spent my spring break not on the sandy beaches of Mexico but in the middle of the Yaqui Valley. Together we reported from a conference aimed at solving an issue that will…

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Expert tips for how to report on suicide

By Rebecca Dell DENVER — When reporting on suicide, one fear news writers have is that readers will respond by taking their own lives. How can reporters, editors and public relations personnel minimize this risk? At the annual conference of the Association of Health Care Journalists, a panel addressed why reporting suicides is important, ways to minimize harm from that reporting…

Dominique Brossard was giving a speech on media and its relationship with the public attitudes toward scientific innovations. Photo by Heidi Li

Media as a messenger of science news

By Heidi Li COLUMBIA, Mo. — People who saw the two babies on the cover of TIME magazine might not think cloning is a terrible thing. It’s just an example of how the media influence the way we view scientific innovations, and now the internet has pushed that wave even further, according to Dominique Brossard, professor…