Read our COVID-19 research and news.

Top stories: A fusion breakthrough, a ‘winged monster,’ and the evolution of religion
(Left to right) Diptendu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images; Whit Richardson/Alamy; Tri Alpha Energy

Top stories: A fusion breakthrough, a ‘winged monster,’ and the evolution of religion

Secretive fusion company claims reactor breakthrough

A secretive company has made a breakthrough in mastering nuclear fusion. Tri Alpha Energy has figured out how to hold superheated gas in a steady state, an important step in the journey toward achieving fusion, which could provide abundant, cheap, and clean energy.

Papers with shorter titles get more citations, study suggests

They say never judge a book by its cover, but a new study suggests that you may be able to predict the popularity of a scientific paper from the length of its title. Brevity, it turns out, appears to earn a paper a little more attention. 

‘Winged monster’ on ancient rock art debunked by scientists

Utah's Black Dragon Canyon is home to rock art that seems to show a winged monster. Some young-Earth creationists point to it as proof that humans once shared the Earth with dinosaurs. But now, scientists have revealed that it's actually a faded painting of humans and animals.

Is a universal flu vaccine on the horizon?

The flu virus has thousands of strains that evolve across seasons, and (so far) a single vaccine can’t guard against all of them. Now, scientists have created vaccines that lay the groundwork for a long-sought shot that could protect against every type of flu.

Why big societies need big gods

It pays to pray to a punitive god. A new theory aims to explain the success of world religions, positing that moralizing gods keep large societies in line and working toward the greater good.