Millions of Americans head outdoors in the summer, whether for a day at a nearby lake or a monthlong road trip. For environmental economists like me, decisions by vacationers and outdoor recreators offer clues to a challenging puzzle: estimating what environmental resources are worth.

In 1981 President Ronald Reagan issued an executive order that required federal agencies to weigh the costs and benefits of proposed major new regulations, and in most cases to adopt them only if the benefits to society outweighed the costs. Reagan’s order was intended to promote environmental improvements without overburdening economic growth.

The moon is just a big rock in Earth's orbit now but things could have gone a lot differently in the distant past. In fact, there may have been two early windows of habitability for Luna.

In a new paper, astrobiologists say conditions on the lunar surface were sufficient to support simple lifeforms shortly after the moon formed from a debris disk 4 billion years ago and again during a peak in lunar volcanic activity around 3.5 billion years ago. During both periods, planetary scientists think the moon was spewing out large quantities of superheated volatile gases, including water vapor, from its interior.
If you are up for a job, and four other candidates are weak, your chances are obviously better than if four other candidates are strong. In the World Cup just completed, statistically there will always be a 'Group of Death", wherein a round-robin group will have three strong teams but only two can advance, meaning a world-class squad will be eliminated. 

Poker players know to bet low when the odds are only modestly better and to bet high when the statistics show the cards in hand are strong. Timing matters, in jobs, in games, in lots of things. 
Wrinkles and hair loss are perfectly natural aspects of aging - but science is all about defeating the nature that wants to kill us off.

One aspect of aging is a decline in mitochondrial function.

I had what seemed like rather a good idea a few weeks back. Building on some prominent findings in social psychology, I hypothesized that politicians on the right would wipe their bum with their left hand; and that politicians on the left would wipe with their right hand.

Ludicrous? Yes – absolutely. But for once my goal wasn’t to run a bona fide scientific study. Instead, I wanted to see if any “journal” would publish my ass-wiping “findings”.

Everyone knows that water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms - H20.

But the story of water gets a lot more scientifically interesting the deeper you go. Water actually exists in two different forms, called isomers, at the molecular level.

They have almost identical physical properties, you can't tell the difference, but chemists can tell them apart by the relative orientation of the nuclear spins of the two hydrogen atoms.  They are called ortho- or para-water depending on whether the spins are aligned in the same or opposite direction.

Across Europe, 95 percent of people claim to have seen seen litter when they visited the coast - yet they say they don't litter. And they don't trust scientists, corporations or government to solve it, which leaves environmentalists who don't ever actually send people into the wilderness to clean up litter.

Marine litter is a big deal thanks to environmental publicity but it is highly exaggerated - think mercury in salmon, alar on apples, floating barges of garbage, estrogen in drinking water and more to get an idea of how these issues get magnified. 

Sub-Saharan Africa has around 80 million people infected with hepatitis B, a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus, but it infects around 250 million people worldwide. It can be a mild illness lasting a few weeks or a serious, lifelong condition. It is transmitted through blood and bodily fluids.  

An accurate diagnostic score that consists of inexpensive blood tests costing around $20 could help diagnose thousands of patients with hepatitis B in need of treatment in some of Africa's poorest regions, far more affordable than the $100-500 for current tests.
A review of data on nearly 20 million people has concluded that having diabetes significantly raises the risk of developing cancer.

For women the risk is even higher, not just of cancer but also leukemia and cancers of the stomach, mouth and kidney. Men, however, had less risk for liver cancer. If none of that makes sense, you see the flaws in replacing science with epidemiological statistics.
States that have expanded Medicaid coverage as part of the Affordable Care Act have higher numbers of individuals with disabilities employed that states that did not.

Medicaid is a taxpayer-funded program that provides free or low-cost health coverage to low-income people, the elderly, and people with disabilities.  As many states are considering work requirements for Medicaid eligibility, the authors of a new paper believe Medicaid expansion is acting as an employment incentive for people with disabilities.