Editor's note

What are the odds the Middle East will see peace in 2018? According to James Gelvin, a historian of the region and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, they’re slim to none. Here are the top five conflicts he says to keep an eye on – from the intractable fighting in Syria to what the Islamic State might look like without its caliphate.

When you’re a scientist interested in creatures that live in virtually inaccessible water-filled caves, field research means strapping on your scuba tanks and jumping in. Texas A&M marine biologist Tom Iliffe describes his love for cave diving – and the amazing discoveries it’s led to.

And we end our special series on weight gain and what to do about it with a warning about shortcut dieting fads and an overview of the scientific research that is revealing treatments that do work.

Danielle Douez

Associate Editor, Politics + Society

Top stories

Syrian Democratic Forces looking toward the northern town of Tabqa, Syria. Syrian Democratic Forces, via AP

From bad to worse? 5 things 2018 will bring to the Middle East

James L. Gelvin, University of California, Los Angeles

An expert on the region lays out the most essential issues to watch this year.

Author Tom Iliffe leads scientists on a cave dive. Jill Heinerth

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.

The Wizard of Oz promised results he could not deliver but was convincing in his presentation. Diet wizards have done the same for decades. Insomnia Cured Here/Flickr.com

New medical advances marking the end of a long reign for 'diet wizards'

David Prologo, Emory University

Dieting fads have been around for more than a century, but none of them has been shown to curb obesity long-term. The good news is that scientific evidence is revealing treatments that do work.

Economy + Business

Environment + Energy

Health + Medicine

Ethics + Religion

  • How does assisting with suicide affect physicians?

    Ronald W. Pies, Tufts University

    The Massachusetts Medical Society recently reversed its long-held opposition to physician-assisted suicide. A psychiatrist notes many physicians are painfully conflicted about participating.

Arts + Culture

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Today’s quote

Whether you're for abortion or against – can the state force you to say anything about it? What about posting a notice with information for the other side? This year, the U.S. Supreme Court must decide.


Abortion freedom of speech battle heading to the Supreme Court

Robert A. Sedler

Wayne State University

Robert A. Sedler