Editor's note

More than 100 young volcanoes dot the landscape of the East African Rift. A quarter of them have erupted in the last century. Karen Fontijn and Gezahegn Yirgu explain why examining past eruptions is so vital - both to keep people and property safe, and to see how these geothermal areas could bring economic opportunities.

The big story of the week was undoubtedly the American mid-term elections, which changed the balance of power in the US Congress, with Democrats taking control of the House and Republicans picking up seats in the Senate. Steven Pressman of Colorado State examines two economic issues that will be affected by the results – “NAFTA 2.0” and infrastructure. Bob Britten of West Virginia University identifies the enduring image of the election.

Plus: the latest on marijuana legalization, felon voting rights in Florida, the influx of women leaders in the House, and the power of the Latino vote.

Moina Spooner

Commissioning Editor: East Africa

Top story

The active Erta Ale volcano in the northern Afar region of Ethiopia. Mikhail Cheremkin/Shutterstock

Tracking the hazards – and benefits – of volcanoes in East Africa

Karen Fontijn, Université Libre de Bruxelles; Gezahegn Yirgu, Addis Ababa University

To be better prepared for future eruptions there's a need to understand and monitor poorly known volcanoes, even in remote places.

US mid-terms

2 economic policies likely to change with Democrats in control of House

Steven Pressman, Colorado State University

While a divided Congress will likely mean gridlock, there are two economic policies likely to see significant change: trade and infrastructure.

What image will define the 2018 election?

Bob Britten, West Virginia University

Here's a riddle: What's the dominant image of the 2018 election campaign? There isn't one. But there are many.

Marijuana expands into 3 more states, but nationwide legalization still unlikely

Daniel J. Mallinson, Pennsylvania State University; Lee Hannah, Wright State University

Two-thirds of all US states now have some kind of legal pot, and support for legalization has never been higher. But ballot initiatives can only take legalization so far, researchers say.

Florida restores voting rights to 1.5 million citizens, which might also decrease crime

Victoria Shineman, University of Pittsburgh

New research shows that when ex-offenders are told they're able to vote, their attitudes about democracy and justice improve.

Women candidates break records in the 2018 US midterm elections

Jennifer Mathers, Aberystwyth University

Several states now have their first female senator and more than 100 women will enter the House of Representatives.

Latinos can be an electoral force in 2020

Lisa Garcia Bedolla, University of California, Berkeley

Record high Latino participation shows this growing voter segment will turn out for parties and politicians who tackle issues they care about. That's a big lesson for 2020 – and not just for Dems.

Science + Technology

Mystery particle spotted? Discovery would require physics so weird that nobody has even thought of it

Roger Barlow, University of Huddersfield

Scientists at Cern's Large Hadron Collider have seen something that may force us to abandon everything we thought we knew about the world on the level of particles.

Great Pyramid: how my research on ancient Egyptian poetry led to an amazing discovery

Roland Enmarch, University of Liverpool

Ancient quarry workers left messages carved on walls like a 4,500-year-old form of social media.

Politics + Society