Read our COVID-19 research and news.

Top stories: Fake marijuana, a butterfly backfire, and why you can’t hide from your computer
(Left to right) Russell Kightley/Science Source; Sam Giles, Matt Friedman, and Martin Brazeau; Amy Tseng/Shutterstock

Top stories: Fake marijuana, a butterfly backfire, and why you can’t hide from your computer

Plan to save monarch butterflies backfires

Want to help save monarch butterflies? Make sure you're planting the right kind of milkweed. Well-meaning gardeners have been planting the wrong species and may accidentally end up killing the butterflies they had intended to save.

Your computer knows you better than your friends do

You may be able to hide your deep, dark secrets from your friends, but chances are your computer knows who you really are. A new study of Facebook data shows that machines have become better at figuring out our true personalities than even our closest acquaintances.

Environment, more than genetics, shapes immune system

In the battle of nature versus nurture, nurture wins—at least when it comes to immunity. A new study of twins reveals that our environment shapes our immune system more than our genes do and that the effect becomes more pronounced over time.

Synthetic cannabis deaths sound alarms in Australia

Natural marijuana isn't deadly, but the synthetic kind can kill. After two recent synthetic marijuana deaths in Australia, scientists warn that the humanmade drug has no standards, no regulation, and no quality control, and it isn't safe to use.

Ancient fossil may rewrite fish family tree

Most fish have skeletons made out of bone. But some fish, like sharks, have skeletons that are made out of cartilage instead. Scientists knew that these two groups diverged more than 420 million years ago, but what their last common ancestor looked like remained a mystery. Now, a 415-million-year-old fossil from Siberia is offering up some clues—and it may end up rewriting the fish family tree. 

After geoscientists joust, judge rules BP Gulf spill totaled 3.19 million barrels of oil

After a lengthy court proceeding, a federal judge has ruled that BP spilled 3.19 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion. That’s lower than the 4.2 million barrel number endorsed by U.S. government prosecutors—but higher than BP’s preferred estimate of 2.45 million barrels. The ruling means that BP faces a maximum fine of $13.7 billion, although the company could pay less if the judge finds it took action to mitigate the spill.