Author Archives: alicia

Ask Smithsonian: Why Do We Kiss?

Love snuggling up to a sweetie and smooching? That’s romantic, but—spoiler alert—kissing can be a disgusting and dangerous activity.  While kissing, couples exchange 9 milliliters of water, 0.7 milligrams of protein, 0.18 mg of organic compounds, 0.71 mg of fats, … Continue reading

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What Is Bertsolaritza And Who Are The Basque Poets Who Know It

Part poetry-slam, part hip-hop freestyling, part a cappella singing and 100 percent improvisational, the tradition of bertsolaritza has become a cultural signifier for the Basque diaspora. Read More.

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Cancer Moonshot Effort Unveils Dozens of Initiatives to Speed Research

WASHINGTON, DC — US federal officials have unveiled a dozen new initiatives designed to accelerate cancer research, speed new therapies to patients, foster data sharing, and simplify participation in clinical trials, all part of the formal liftoff of the Cancer … Continue reading

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Ask Smithsonian: How Do Spiders Make Their Webs?

Spiders are skillful engineers, gifted with amazing planning skills and a material that allows them to precisely design rigorous and functional webs. The material—spider silk—has chemical properties that make it lustrous, strong and light. It’s stronger than steel and has … Continue reading

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Artist Chakaia Booker Gives Tires a Powerful Retread

The first thing you notice is the smell. It’s a bit industrial, but also, maybe a tiny bit pleasant. The odor encapsulates Chakaia Booker’s latest massive sculptural work, displayed as part of the “Wonder” exhibition at the recently reopened Renwick … Continue reading

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Califf Breezes Through Nomination Hearing for FDA Chief

WASHINGTON — Most members of a Senate committee had few reservations yesterday about Robert Califf’s qualifications to be the next commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “You come here today with impressive qualifications,” said Senate Health, Education, … Continue reading

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How Thousands of Dead Bugs Become a Mesmerizing Work of Extraordinary Beauty

Jennifer Angus’ artwork is startling, especially when it dawns on you that what is on view is not beautifully drawn, patterned wallpaper. Depending on your mindset, it’s either a nightmarishly freakish, or beautifully mesmerizing assemblage, of insects Beyond the visceral gut … Continue reading

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Journey to Mingering Mike’s Magical, Musical World

Lots of kids create their own fantasy worlds, populating them with monsters or superheroes—representations of friends and family, persecutors and allies, foils and alter-egos. For some, it’s a way of getting by when they don’t fit in, or of escaping … Continue reading

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Supreme Court Dubious on Right to Sue Over Low Medicaid Fees

Washington, DC — Several US Supreme Court justices expressed skepticism that physicians have the right to sue if they believe states have set Medicaid rates too low. The Justices were responding to oral arguments held today in Armstrong v Exceptional … Continue reading

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To Screen, or Not to Screen

You walk into the room, but you can’t remember why. You’ve forgotten where you left your keys. Lapses like that seem to be happening more often. The beginnings of Alzheimer’s disease? Maybe, maybe not. Continue reading

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Equal Coverage For Mental Health?

Q Why are my mental health benefits less generous than those that my insurance policy provides for other conditions?

A When mental health coverage was first added to benefits packages a few decades ago, there was still a persistent belief that a condition like depression was not as real as heart disease or cancer. There also were few medications or other therapies that offered significant improvement. Many employers did not offer rich coverage because they assumed the government would eventually pay for treatment of serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disease. Continue reading

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Uninsured? You’re Not Alone

Barbra Lancelot has a master’s in education and a long career working with special-needs children. Until recently, she also had a good health insurance plan and prescription drug coverage, provided by her employer. But late last year, the 58-year-old College Park resident lost her job. Coverage was extended to her under COBRA, the law that guarantees temporary continuance of employer-provided insurance but requires the worker to pay the full premium. Continue reading

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U Street: The Corridor Is Cool Again

SAUNTER down U Street in northwest Washington almost any night and you’ll hear the pulsing beat of urban nightlife: the tinny pop of a snare drum, the caustic sneering of an indie rocker, the smooth melodies of a lounge singer, … Continue reading

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Finding a More Authentic Jamaica

IT’S not particularly easy to get to Portland parish, a lush, often rainy region on Jamaica’s northeast coast. The closest airport with jet service from the United States is Norman Manley International in Kingston, which is at least two, and … Continue reading

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