Esther Landhuis

Freelance science writer covering life sciences—or most anything that inspires awe and wonder in our world or illuminates the creatives who think and discover within it.

Superbugs: A silent health emergency

Bacteria and other microbes can make us sick. But there’s a lurking danger with some germs that’s far more frightening than a bout of food poisoning or an infected wound. Today, drugs exist to fight most of these germs. They’re called antibiotics. Before these medicines came along, common infections frequently killed people. And that’s where the danger lies: What will happen if antibiotics no longer kill germs?

Finding May Explain Why Women More Likely Develop Alzheimer's

Scientists haven’t pinpointed a definitive cause for Alzheimer’s disease—a fatal brain disorder that robs people of their memory and cognitive abilities. But now researchers have uncovered an intriguing clue about why more women than men develop the condition. A particular gene variant, found in a quarter of the population and long known to raise people’s risk for the disease, seems less menacing in men, new research shows.

Lifelong debunker takes on arbiter of neutral choices

Persi Diaconis has spent much of his life turning scams inside out. In 1962, the then 17-year-old sought to stymie a Caribbean casino that was allegedly using shaved dice to boost house odds in games of chance. In the mid-1970s, the upstart statistician exposed some key problems in ESP research and debunked a handful of famed psychics. Now a Stanford professor of mathematics and statistics, Diaconis has turned his attention toward simpler phenomena: determining whether coin flipping is random.