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F.D. Flam
For F.D. Flam's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Machine learning could assist in cancer research by flagging papers likely to fail replication attempts, potentially improving the quality control process.
COMMENTARY / World
Feb 21, 2024
The scandals rocking cancer science matter to your health
Trouble emerged years before the most recent scandal in which investigators found data manipulation in a slew of high-profile cancer research papers.
A paper published in The Lancet in December found that plastics likely enter most of our major organs and even affect the good bacteria that makes up our microbiome.
COMMENTARY / World
Jan 14, 2024
We don't know how worried we should be about nanoplastics
Nanoparticles can slip into the bloodstream, get into organs, and sneak into cells where they may cause harm.
New study questions the trend of scientific breakthroughs and examines the changing landscape of innovation.
COMMENTARY / World
Jan 8, 2024
Have scientific breakthroughs declined?
From curing disease to reducing global warming, there’s no shortage of hard scientific problems crying out for solutions.
Though ChatGPT debuted in late 2022, it was really in 2023 that we started to get a sense of what large language models could do, including diagnosing complex medical issues.
COMMENTARY / World
Dec 31, 2023
The 10 most intriguing science breakthroughs over the past year
As 2023 has drawn to a close, let’s look back on some of the astounding breakthroughs we’ve seen in the last 12 months.
Demonstrators rally against COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Buffalo, New York, in February 2022.
COMMENTARY / World
Dec 26, 2023
It’s past time scientists admitted their COVID-19 mistakes
In 2019, 13% of Americans were distrustful enough to say they weren’t confident in scientists to act in the public’s best interest. Now it is 27%.
Researchers eager to be hailed as the next world-changing genius may cut corners they shouldn’t — and that reflects badly on science.
COMMENTARY / World
Nov 23, 2023
Science hype and celebrity culture make a bad pair
There is a broad problem of questionable research results being published in prestigious journals, with some prioritizing sensational findings.
The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, a nuclear fusion demonstration project, in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, France, in October 2016
COMMENTARY / World
Sep 12, 2023
Fusion research shouldn’t be a nuclear weapons side hustle
Some question the wisdom of improving nuclear weapons while advocating for the separation of fusion research from weapons development.
Emperor penguin chicks perished at multiple breeding grounds in Antarctica last year, drowning or freezing to death when sea ice was eroded by global warming.
COMMENTARY / World
Sep 3, 2023
Our addiction to fossil fuels is killing baby penguins
Global warming is decimating sea ice and, with it, baby penguins. But why should we care about this and other species dying off?
One big challenge public health officials now face is how to restore trust so that people listen to future guidance on everything from flu shots to childhood vaccines.
COMMENTARY / World
Aug 27, 2023
Not all COVID-19 ‘misinformation’ is equal — nor misinformation
Public health scientists have to figure out how to get back to the kind of nuanced, thoughtful discussions that were the pre-pandemic norm.
Whether it is a hot summer or a cold winter, humans spend 90% of their time inside and there is little evidence that seasonal changes affect COVID-19 transmission significantly. 
COMMENTARY / World
Aug 10, 2023
COVID-19’s summer resurgence resists easy answers
Be wary of anyone with a pat explanation for why COVID-19 waves rise and fall.
Researchers have developed a new method to analyze climate history and their findings align with current climate models.
COMMENTARY / World
Aug 6, 2023
Science offers closer look at the Medieval Warming Period
Medieval Warming Period saw a population boom in Europe and the collapse of civilizations in the Americas
New revelations about dreams and creativity could move people toward more balance, giving sleep and even naps much needed respectability.
COMMENTARY / World
Jun 20, 2023
Want to be more creative? Try dream-hacking
New scientific methods are helping researchers understand how dreams can boost brainpower.
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
Jul 3, 2023
Can we cure dementia before it starts?
Octogenarian and biologist Leroy Hood is trying to make the Elizabeth Holmes-ian dream of preventive medicine come true.

Longform

At the Akan International Crane Center, just north of the city of Kushiro proper, visitors can see the majestic red-crowned crane — a symbol of Hokkaido.
Faces of the north: A Hokkaido town grapples with depopulation