Editor's note

Sixteen years ago today, on Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida carried out the single biggest terrorist strike in modern history. In the years since, the U.S. has fought back with unprecedented force – killing the organization’s founder and a third of its leadership. And yet, al-Qaida persists. Tricia Bacon of American University asks what makes the terrorist organization so resilient.

The havoc and heartache caused by hurricanes Harvey and Irma will last for weeks and possibly years, experts are saying. Horrible as these storms are in the U.S., they bring another risk to impoverished countries in their path: cholera. “In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in 2016, a surge of cholera in Haiti increased the death toll from the disease,” writes medical anthropologist and American University professor Lauren Carruth. The recent storms could do the same.

With financial and cybersecurity top of mind for millions of Americans in the wake of the Equifax security breach, Dartmouth computer scientists Sergey Bratus and Anna Shubina suggest a change, at once simple and complicated, that would make email far safer than it is today.

Emily Costello

Senior Editor, Politics + Society

Top story

Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001. AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer

Why al-Qaida is still strong 16 years after 9/11

Tricia Bacon, American University

An unprecedented onslaught from the US hasn't destroyed the terrorist organization. What is the secret of its resilience?

Hurricane Irma

Science + Technology

  • The only safe email is text-only email

    Sergey Bratus, Dartmouth College; Anna Shubina, Dartmouth College

    It's impossible to be certain of safety while using Gmail, Yahoo mail and other web-based email systems. The best solution is a radical one: It's time to return to plain, text-only email.

  • Can random bits of DNA lead to safe, new antibiotics and herbicides?

    Kevin M. Folta, University of Florida

    Inserting a random DNA mishmash into a plant or bacterium directs it to make a novel protein. Sifting through the resulting molecules, researchers may find ones have medical or agricultural uses.

Health + Medicine

Environment + Energy

  • A deadly herpes virus is threatening oysters around the world

    Colleen Burge, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

    Oysters grow in seawater and filter their food from it, so how do you shield them from waterborne diseases? Scientists are working to develop strains that are resistant to a fast-spreading herpes virus.

Arts + Culture

Trending on site

  • Stretching your donation dollars: 5 tips

    David Campbell, Binghamton University, State University of New York

    The desire to help during emergencies like Hurricane Harvey is admirable. With a little homework, your contributions will go further.

  • Massive sunspots and huge solar flares mean unexpected space weather for Earth

    Alexa Halford, Dartmouth College; Brett Carter, RMIT University; Julie Currie, RMIT University

    At a time in the sun's cycle when space weather experts expect less solar activity, our star is going bonkers with solar flares and coronal mass ejections. What effects will Earth feel?

  • The world is facing a global sand crisis

    Aurora Torres, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research; Jianguo "Jack" Liu, Michigan State University; Jodi Brandt, Boise State University; Kristen Lear, University of Georgia

    Overuse of sand for construction and industry is harming the environment and fueling violence around the world. Scientists explain why we need international rules to regulate sand mining and use.

Today’s quote

What if we introduced a scrambled mess of random DNA code into a plant or bacterium? Could we identify random bits of genetic information that could give rise to small proteins that change an organism’s development?

  Kevin M. Folta