Human Needs

Health & Medicine

We still don't know for sure how Ebola reached humans

Scientists are still trying to figure out when and how the Ebola virus first emerged in humans. Many believe that fruit bats are the so-called “reservoir hosts,” but that remains to be definitively proven. Science writer David Quammen ventured deep into the forest of central Africa to try to find out for his latest book “Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus.”

Health & Medicine

How 'big data' could help stop the spread of Ebola

When it comes to containing an outbreak like Ebola, anticipating where it might spread next is crucial. Until somewhat recently, however, the only way to do that was through untimely census records. But with the proliferation of so-called "big data," epidemiologists can track in real time where West Africans are headed — and where they might be spreading the disease.

Science, Tech & Environment

Toilet Tales: Water and Waste

The humble flush toilet is a technological wonder that carries our waste safely away from our homes and workplaces. Yet roughly 2.5 billion people don’t have access to decent sanitation. And even for those who do, the toilet is an imperfect solution that often creates problems of its own. The World’s special five-part series “Toilet Tales: Water and Waste” examines efforts to solve those problems around the world, from China to India to Haiti to Cambridge, Massachusetts.