Science’s news team hit the Windy City last week to cover the annual meeting of AAAS, which publishes Science. While in Chicago, we hosted three special editions of ScienceLIVE. ScienceLIVE will return to its regular weekly schedule next Thursday.
The United States keeps as many as 80,000 prisoners in solitary confinement, sometimes for years or decades on end. Research suggests that this form of punishment can cause severe psychiatric and neurological damage to inmates, and evidence for its effectiveness in reducing crime or recidivism is scant. In light of studies of prisoners of war and the impact of sensory and social deprivation on the brain, does such punishment qualify as cruel and unusual punishment according to the U.S. Constitution and national and international human rights conventions? And what are scientists learning about the impact of sensory deprivation on the brain?
Our world is becoming increasingly citified. Of the more than 9 billion humans projected to live on Earth by 2050, an estimated 70% of them will be urban dwellers. But what will their cities look like? A dense, well-planned urban center can run like a well-oiled machine, cutting down on waste, reducing vehicle travel, and helping people stay connected. But cities can also lead to urban sprawl, and can reinforce inequalities, leaving poor and minority residents isolated even in the midst of a metropolis.
For centuries, science and religion have been pitted against each other as incompatible quests for truth. But are they really at odds? A new survey of 10,000 religious people and scientists is shedding new light on this question. How do religious communities view scientists, and how do scientists view religious communities? How can both groups work together to build bridges and increase mutual understanding? And when it comes to engaging with religious communities, what do scientists need to know?