Every month, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN—the longest-running magazine in the U.S. and an authoritative voice in science, technology and innovation—provides insight into scientific topics that affect our daily lives and capture our imagination, establishing the vital bridge between science and public policy.

>> Key information from this month’s issue:

• EDUCATION
To attract and retain well trained science and math teachers, the U.S. needs to revamp its attitude about the profession. By improving education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), the U.S. can reverse its decades-long slide in science and math competitiveness. See: Science Agenda: Stand and Deliver

• CRIME
Throughout the 2000s, rates of burglary and homicide plunged nearly twice as deep in New York City as compared with any other metropolitan area. By using innovative methods of crime control, such as identifying crime hotspots and putting more police officers in those areas rather than arresting more people, New York City has been able to drastically drop its common crimes rate over the past 20 years. Other cities can learn from NYC’s success by increasing the number of cops in crime hotspots rather than merely focusing on reducing drug use or sending people to jail. See: How New York Beat Crime

• MENTAL HEALTH
Some estimates put the cost of mental disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer’s and addiction in the U.S. and Europe at up to $1 trillion a year. Despite the critical need for new drugs, research is becoming too risky and expensive for big pharmaceutical companies to develop on their own. The authors propose new ways of spreading the pharma risk to help those afflicted by mental disorders. See: Forum: A Dearth of New Meds

• BIOFUELS
Despite extensive research and governmental investment of hundreds of millions of dollars, biofuels are not commercially competitive with gasoline as fuel, and they are not likely to be so for a long time to come. Policy makers might be wise not to stake everything on a high-risk bet. See: The False Promise of Biofuels

• ELECTRONICS
The “empty” air around us is increasingly packed with electromagnetic radiation. Despite the number of radio frequency sources such as cell phones, microwave ovens and satellite televisions, average exposure to radiation is still far below safety standards, which have large margin built in. See: Bombarded

• CYSTIC FIBROSIS
Cystic Fibrosis is a severe hereditary disorder that affects the ability to breathe and digest food. The Food and Drug Administration will soon decide whether or not to approve a new drug that eases symptoms by targeting the effects of the underlying genetic defect that causes the disease. This drug might also help people with emphysema, chronic bronchitis and other lung conditions. See: A Breath of Fresh Air