Science is one of those subjects that can move a little slowly for some of us in the news business. It's hard to craft a taut narrative around a couple decades' worth of research in the lab. Or a million years of evolution. Then one day, whatever's been brewing changes the world. But capturing the progress and meaning of science—whether it's about medicine, the environment, or space—and then explaining it to readers are something we've long done at U.S. News. We work to take the theoretical and make it real. Human evolution may seem like an old subject until you realize that man is continuing to evolve and perhaps more rapidly than we thought. The implications are profound, as Nancy Shute writes in her story, "Where is Human Evolution Heading?"
When did life begin? There's no small bit of scientific, political, and religious controversy attached to that question. And still no precise answer. But the quest has resulted in some very practical developments, most recently a drug that helps cure a common degenerative eye disease.
Our package of stories assembled by Ben Harder takes a moment to pull together some of the big questions scientists are wrestling with and sort out the pie-in-the-sky theory from the pie-on-the-table practicality (literally, in one case, as we delve into the brave new world of lab-created meat). Where will global warming hit hardest? How close are we to detecting life in the heavens? We don't have all the answers, but the inquiry is worth your while.
Science online. With all the developments in scientific fields, we've been expanding our coverage online. Our science page has daily news, features, and videos, including Ben's wide-ranging Thinking Harder blog and Fresh Greens, Maura Judkis's look at being eco-friendly and thrifty. We're also finding that science ties in well with another key area of our coverage, education. From our rankings of high schools, colleges, and engineering programs, we know that improving math and science education is a crucial challenge for the United States. We already have some great resources in place, but it's an area we'll be building on in the months to come.
Also, this week we inaugurate our Viewpoint feature, taking some of the best reader reaction to our recent Pro/Con debate on energy independence. As we expected, we got some smart and provocative views and suggestions. This time, we have two experts facing off on whether we should legalize drugs. Consider the arguments, and let us know where you stand.