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Determining the effects of media on people's lives requires knowledge of what people are actually seeing and doing on those screens. Vertigo3d / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Byron Reeves, Nilam Ram and Thomas N. Robinson

There's a lot of talk about digital media. Increasing screen time has created worries about media's impacts on democracy, addiction, depression, relationships, learning, health, privacy and much more. The effects are frequently assumed to be huge, even apocalyptic.

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Yellow soft shell D-vitamin capsule held to the sun. Helin Loik-Tomson / iStock / Getty Images

By Margherita T. Cantorna

Winter is upon us and so is the risk of vitamin D deficiency and infections. Vitamin D, which is made in our skin following sunlight exposure and also found in oily fish (mackerel, tuna and sardines), mushrooms and fortified dairy and nondairy substitutes, is essential for good health. Humans need vitamin D to keep healthy and to fight infections. The irony is that in winter, when people need vitamin D the most, most of us are not getting enough. So how much should we take? Should we take supplements? How do we get more? And, who needs it most?

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A crack caused by an earthquake is seen in La Guancha boardwalk in Ponce, Puerto Rico on Jan. 9, 2020. RICARDO ARDUENGO / AFP via Getty Images

By Richard Aster

Multiple strong and damaging earthquakes in southern Puerto Rico starting around Dec. 28, 2019 have killed at least one person, caused many serious injuries and collapsed numerous buildings, including a multistory school in the town of Guánica that luckily was empty at the time. These quakes are the most damaging to strike Puerto Rico since 1918, and the island has been under a state of emergency since Jan. 6, 2020.

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The Kangaroo Island Fire in Australia early January 2020. A targeted, coordinated online campaign has tried to mislead the public. While the myths have been debunked, the culpable parties remain unknown. robdownunder / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Timothy Graham, Tobias R. Keller

In the first week of 2020, hashtag #ArsonEmergency became the focal point of a new online narrative surrounding the bushfire crisis.

The message: the cause is arson, not climate change.

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A coyote mother and pups howl at the Minnesota Wildlife Connection in Sandstone, Minnesota.
Danita Delimont / Gallo Images / Getty Images Plus

By Roland Kays

The Research Brief is a short take on interesting academic work.

THE BIG IDEA: Coyotes are poised to expand their range to a new continent. The North American canine native has now reached the Darién Gap – a dense wilderness on the border of Colombia and Panama, at the very doorstep of South America. If the coyote succeeds, it would be a new chapter in an amazing evolutionary story that's played out over the past half century.

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During the university conference on racial reconciliation, a multi ethnic group listens as a young adult woman speaks. SDI Productions / E+ / Getty Images

By Marty Swanbrow Becker

When college students seek help for a mental health issue on campus — something they are doing more often — the place they usually go is the college counseling center.

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By Connie Rogers and Darrell Cockburn

It's common for people to focus on their health at the start of the year. But few consider the well being of the microbes that live inside the human gut — the microbiome — which are vital to an individual's good health.

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How can you increase your willpower and fulfill your New Year's promise to yourself? Thomas Hawk / Flickr

By Jelena Kecmanovic

It's that time of year when people make their New Year's resolutions – indeed, 93% of people set them, according to the American Psychological Association. The most common resolutions are related to losing weight, eating healthier, exercising regularly and saving money.

However, research shows that 45% of people fail to keep their resolutions by February, and only 19% keep them for two years. Lack of willpower or self-control is the top cited reason for not following through.

How can you increase your willpower and fulfill your New Year's promise to yourself? These seven strategies are based on behavioral science and my clinical work with hundreds of people trying to achieve their long-term goals.

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Ruffed Lemur (Varecia Variegata), Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, Toamasina Province, Madagascar. Insights / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

By Andrea L. Baden

The island of Madagascar off the southeastern coast of Africa hosts at least 12,000 plant species and 700 vertebrate species, 80% to 90% of which are found nowhere else on Earth.

Isolated for the last 88 million years and covering an area approximately the size of the northeastern United States, Madagascar is one of the world's hottest biodiversity hotspots. Its island-wide species diversity is striking, but its tropical forest biodiversity is truly exceptional.

Sadly, human activities are ravaging tropical forests worldwide. Habitat fragmentation, over-harvesting of wood and other forest products, over-hunting, invasive species, pollution and climate change are depleting many of these forests' native species.

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A solitary Brazil nut tree standing by the highway in a cleared patch of rainforest. Colin McPherson / Corbis via Getty Images

By Liberty Vittert

This year, I was on the judging panel for the Royal Statistical Society's International Statistic of the Decade.

Much like Oxford English Dictionary's "Word of the Year" competition, the international statistic is meant to capture the zeitgeist of this decade. The judging panel accepted nominations from the statistical community and the public at large for a statistic that shines a light on the decade's most pressing issues.

On Dec. 23, we announced the winner: the 8.4 million soccer fields of land deforested in the Amazon over the past decade. That's 24,000 square miles, or about 10.3 million American football fields.

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