Editor's note

Legendary football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant famously said, “Offense sells tickets. Defense wins championships.” So with the divisional round of the NFL playoffs kicking off this weekend, should bettors go with the Vikings, who, of the remaining playoff teams, had the best regular season defense, allowing a mere 275 yards per game? Mark Otten’s Sports Psychology Lab recently tested Bryant’s theory, and his findings may upend one of the sport’s most enduring maxims.

Whoever you cheer for this weekend, there’s a good chance that you’ll do it with a craft beer in hand. While a few big labels still dominate the beer market, the buzz is coming from small-scale breweries turning out a dizzying assortment of beers and ales. Holy Cross sociologists Daina Cheyenne Harvey and Ellis Jones explain how craft brewers in New England have grown a local industry. One word: Networks.

Nick Lehr

Arts + Culture Editor

Top stories

New England Patriots defensive end Bobby Hamilton sacks St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner during Super Bowl XXXVI. AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Does defense actually win championships?

Mark Otten, California State University, Northridge

Cal State Northridge's sport psychology lab ran a regression analysis to see if there's any truth to the adage.

Pouring Saison, a classic Belgian farmhouse-style ale, at Allagash Brewing in Portland, Maine. Allagash Brewing

Craft beer is becoming the wine of New England by redefining 'terroir'

Daina Cheyenne Harvey, College of the Holy Cross; Ellis Jones, College of the Holy Cross

Winemakers call the ecological factors that define their product terroir. By redefining that idea to include history and social ties, New England craft brewers have grown an industry with local roots.

Arts + Culture

For black celebrities like Oprah, it's impossible to be apolitical

Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff, University of South Carolina

Throughout American history, being a black celebrity has been a political act in and of itself. When viewed through this lens, the transition into politics for someone like Winfrey is more natural.

Architecture in 2018: Look to the streets, not the sky

Sean Weiss, City College of New York

Three innovative projects set to be completed this year are geared toward strengthening communities that have been left out of the economic recovery.

Environment + Energy

Is warming in the Arctic behind this year's crazy winter weather?

Jennifer Francis, Rutgers University

An atmospheric scientist who studies the Arctic explains why – because of global warming – the U.S. may be in for longer cold spells in the winter.

Turning power over to states won't improve protection for endangered species

Alejandro E. Camacho, University of California, Irvine; Michael Robinson-Dorn, University of California, Irvine

Congress is moving to cut back the Endangered Species Act and give more power to states. But a recent study shows that state laws are weaker and states have few resources to protect species at risk.

Politics + Society

Thanks to the North Carolina case, partisan gerrymandering's day of reckoning may soon be upon us

Christopher Beem, Pennsylvania State University

Judges in North Carolina just threw out the state's congressional district map. The decision could have major implications for the future of partisan gerrymandering across the US.

Why is El Salvador so dangerous? 4 essential reads

Catesby Holmes, The Conversation

The U.S. government has ended the protective status of 200,000 Salvadoran migrants. If deported, they would go back to one of the world's deadliest places. How did violence in El Salvador get so bad?


Why children's savings accounts should be America's next wealth transfer program

William Elliott III, University of Michigan

Children's savings account programs are springing up around the country. A researcher says these special accounts could help pave the way to college for America's poor.

More colleges than ever have test-optional admissions policies — and that's a good thing

Joseph Soares, Wake Forest University

The number of colleges that have test-optional admissions policies has now surpassed 1,000. An admissions specialist explains why that milestone is a welcome one.

Economy + Business

Targeting hidden roots of workplace harassment is key to fulfilling Oprah's promise to girls

Elizabeth C. Tippett, University of Oregon

At the Golden Globes, Oprah Winfrey assured girls that the harassment scandals of 2017 will eventually lead to a brighter future. But deep workplace issues will have to be addressed first.

Why states may get away with creative income tax maneuvers

Daniel Hemel, University of Chicago

New York, California and other high-tax states are angling to use the charitable deduction and state payroll taxes as workarounds to shield both their residents and their revenue.

Science + Technology

Autonomous vehicles could help millions of people catch up on sleep, TV and work

Eric Williams, Rochester Institute of Technology

Letting cars drive themselves could save some people huge amounts of time. What might they do when they would have been driving?

Scientist at work: I've dived in hundreds of underwater caves hunting for new forms of life

Tom Iliffe, Texas A&M University

Scientific fieldwork that happens underground and underwater in spectacular but dangerous caves opens a window on a largely unknown world.

Super-black feathers can absorb virtually every photon of light that hits them

Dakota McCoy, Harvard University

Male Birds of Paradise have patches of super-black plumage that absorb 99.95 percent of light. New research identified their feathers' microscopic structures that make them look so very dark.

Quantum speed limit may put brakes on quantum computers

Sebastian Deffner, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

A future that continues to have increasingly fast computing depends on quantum physics – but research is showing that there are limits to how fast quantum computers can go.

Ethics + Religion

How California's megachurches changed Christian culture

Richard Flory, University of Southern California – Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

California megachurches played a significant role in how millions of people - Christian or not - understand Christianity.

Will religiously unaffiliated Americans increase support for liberal policies, in 2018 and beyond?

David Mislin, Temple University

Nearly one of every four people in the US is unaffiliated, which has prompted speculation that this would increase support for liberal policies. A scholar provides some lessons from history.

Health + Medicine

What Jeff Sessions doesn't understand about medical marijuana

C. Michael White, University of Connecticut

Patients in 29 states rely on medical marijuana to treat pain, nausea, seizures and other ailments. But all that could change.

Young doctors struggle to learn robotic surgery – so they are practicing in the shadows

Matt Beane, University of California, Santa Barbara

There are more robots than ever in the operating room – but that's led to fewer opportunities for surgical trainees. Now, some new doctors are teaching themselves in secret.

The 'greatest pandemic in history' was 100 years ago – but many of us still get the basic facts wrong

Richard Gunderman, Indiana University

Don't believe these 10 common myths about the 1918 Spanish flu.

When sexual assault victims speak out, their institutions often betray them

Jennifer J. Freyd, University of Oregon

In sexual harassment cases, schools and workplaces often harm those that they claim to protect. These tips can help them avoid those painful mistakes.