Joanna Thompson is a freelance journalist based in New York City. A certified nerd, she loves delving into the nitty-gritty of all things science for HowStuffWorks. Her other loves include baking, reading pulpy sci-fi novels, and her pet gecko. Also, sometimes she runs fast. You can find more of her writing at Audubon Magazine, Scientific American, Atlas Obscura or on her website, joanna thompson.work.

Ancient Greeks and Romans used thin strips of lead to vent their frustrations or write messages to the gods.

By Joanna Thompson

Compression socks, sleeves and other garments are worn by both patients and athletes to help enhance their performance and improve their post-op recovery. But do they work?

By Joanna Thompson

A new project aims to document the possible demise of Planet Earth due to climate change. It's called Earth's Black Box and the creators hope this will be a warning to all Earth-dwellers to take global warming seriously.

By Joanna Thompson

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Science has made it possible for some apples to be stored as long as a year before selling. How is that done, and is it safe?

By Joanna Thompson

A major failure in crowd control is likely to blame for the deaths at Travis Scott's Astroworld Festival. What went so disastrously wrong?

By Joanna Thompson

Scientists have determined that years of ivory poaching to fund Mozambique's civil war altered the genetics of the country's elephants. But it only affected the females. A new study tells why.

By Joanna Thompson

Whole genome sequencing can analyze a baby's DNA and search for mutations that may cause health issues now or later in life. But how prepared are we for this knowledge and should it be used on all babies?

By Joanna Thompson

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Who gets long COVID and why still remains a mystery, but several new studies are showing it's much more widespread than we initially thought. So what is long COVID and how can it be treated?

By Joanna Thompson

In the latest COVID-19 surge, many hospitals across the country are on diversion, meaning they're asking ambulances to take patients elsewhere. Here's how that could affect you.

By Joanna Thompson

Frances Kelsey saved countless lives when she decided not to approve a drug for morning sickness in the 1960s. Her instinct was spot-on and has had lasting effects on FDA drug approval ever since.

By Joanna Thompson

CRISPR is the genius behind innovations that seemed impossible a decade ago. Could you grow tomatoes with the kick of hot sauce or ferment wine that doesn't cause a hangover? That's just two of the things scientists are looking into.

By Joanna Thompson

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Whether bone or stone, plastic or fuzz, dice have been rolled by people looking for a little luck in civilizations throughout recorded history.

By Joanna Thompson

Vaccines stimulate our immune system to help protect us from a specific disease or virus, like COVID-19. But sometimes that protection wanes and we need additional doses, or booster shots.

By Joanna Thompson

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC, plays an essential role in regulating ocean temperatures, but it looks as if it may be collapsing. What happens next?

By Joanna Thompson

Blood flow restriction training, or BFR, is a technique in which athletes intentionally limit the blood flow to a specific area of the body during a workout using a band or cuff. But can anyone benefit from this technique?

By Joanna Thompson

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New data released today from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is behind the agency's updated mask guidelines. What so alarmed the CDC that it's telling even the vaccinated to wear masks again?

By Joanna Thompson

What in the world is monkeypox, and should Americans be worried about another contagious virus spreading across the country?

By Joanna Thompson

Researchers from the University of California, Santa Cruz determined that only about 1.5 to 7 percent of the modern human genome is unique to humans. The rest we share with our relatives the Neanderthals and the Denisovans.

By Joanna Thompson

Pfizer says COVID-19 booster shots are necessary, but the CDC and FDA say they're not. Are these mixed messages only going to confuse those who are still not vaccinated? We asked some expert vaccinologists for their opinion.

By Joanna Thompson

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Nearly 90 percent of the Western U.S. is gripped by an "apocalyptical" drought that only continues to worsen. Even if you don't live in the area, it affects you — and what you do affects it.

By Joanna Thompson

FUTA, the Federal Unemployment Tax Act, was written into law in 1939 in response to the Great Depression and, as we discovered during the COVID-19 pandemic, it still has great relevance today.

By Joanna Thompson

Experts say the U.S. government is designed so a coup d'état would be highly unlikely ever to occur. But deep political polarization can precipitate one, so does that mean a coup is marginally more possible?

By Joanna Thompson

In 2016, U.S. diplomats in Havana, Cuba, reported strange sounds and steady pulses of pressure in their heads. Many still have unexplained illnesses. Now at least two incidents have occurred in D.C. What's going on?

By Joanna Thompson

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Chastity belts were supposedly worn by women in the Middle Ages to keep them from having sex. A literal lock for a woman's nether regions. But how much truth is there to this torture device?

By Joanna Thompson

So you've finally gotten up the guts to go skydiving. But what if you finally jump out of the plane and your parachute doesn't open? Are you a goner or do you have a good chance of surviving?

By Joanna Thompson