August 20, 2019

Science

"Here are two sets of statements from far-distant opposites in the climate change debate. The first is from Naomi Klein, who in her book This Changes Everything paints a bleak picture of a global socioeconomic system gone wrong: “There is a..."

"Humans are now living in a new geological epoch of our own making: the Anthropocene. Or so we’re told. Whereas some epochs in Earth history stretch more than 40 million years, this new chapter started maybe 400 years ago, when carbon dioxide..."

"In some ways, the history of science is the history of a philosophical resistance to mythical explanations of reality. In the ancient world, when we asked “Where did the world come from?” we were told creation myths. In the modern world, we are..."

"It is 4.18am. In the fireplace, where logs burned, there are now orange lumps that will soon be ash. Orion the Hunter is above the hill. Taurus, a sparkling V, is directly overhead, pointing to the Seven Sisters. Sirius, one of Orion’s heel..."

"In April, the lunar lander Beresheet — a privately funded Israeli project — crashed on the moon. The mission originally started as a contender for the Google Lunar X prize, a contest to land a privately made robot on the moon before a 2018 deadline"

"NOTHING’S MORE AMERICAN than a science-hero—an indomitable, big-brained hasher-out of ideas that change the world, that make the impossible possible. At least since Ben Franklin sat with the founders, and certainly since Vannevar Bush explicitly..."

"“In just one day,” she told me, “it burned everything away.” Nina Wells, a retired Environmental Specialist with the New Mexico Environment Department Surface Water Quality Bureau, has over 20 years of experience coping with fires and drought..."

"The suggestion that humans will soon set up bustling, long-lasting colonies on Mars is something many of us take for granted. What this lofty vision fails to appreciate, however, are the monumental—if not intractable—challenges awaiting..."

"Last week, a North Carolina man became a notorious microbial killer’s first confirmed victim this year. The 59-year-old Eddie Gray had unknowingly come across a brain-eating amoeba while swimming in a man-made lake near Fayetteville in mid-July..."

"“Consciousness” refers to any subjective experience — the delectable taste of Nutella, the sharp sting of an infected tooth, the slow passage of time when bored, the sense of vitality and anxiety just before a competitive event. In the words of..."

"When you hold out your palm and point it towards the sky, what is it that's interacting with your hand? You might correctly surmise that there are ions, electrons and molecules all colliding with your hand, as the atmosphere is simply..."

"On July 22, 2009, the neuroscientist Henry Markram walked onstage at the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford, England, and told the audience that he was going to simulate the human brain, in all its staggering complexity, in a computer. His goals..."

"A huge happiness and positive thinking industry, estimated to be worth US$11 billion a year, has helped to create the fantasy that happiness is a realistic goal. Chasing the happiness dream is a very American concept, exported to the rest of the..."

"There’s a theory doing the rounds online that nuclear research experiments caused the world to shift into an alternate reality where Donald Trump became president. This might sound stupid, but some people genuinely believe it to be true. And to..."

"If you can read this sentence, you can talk with a scientist. Well, maybe not about the details of her research, but at least you would share a common language. The overwhelming majority of communication in the natural sciences today – physics..."

"When Neil Armstrong took his giant leap for mankind on the moon’s surface 50 years ago this week, many people were already dreaming about staying. Thinkers proposing moon cities ranged from author Arthur C. Clarke, who in 1954 envisioned igloo..."

"The first lunar landing was many things — a D-Day-like feat of planning and logistics, a testament to the power of man's will, an ostensible propaganda coup for NATO. It was also, I think, one of the most misunderstood events in the history of..."

"Fifty years ago this week, more than a million Americans drove, flew and even boated to Florida’s Cape Canaveral to witness the launch of Apollo 11, which would culminate four days later on July 20, 1969, with America’s victory over the Soviet..."

""Obesity is the biggest threat to the health of our nation,” proclaims the chief of epidemiology at a major medical school on the Scientific American Observations blog. This all too common suggestion does far greater damage to public health than..."

"Humans have long sought the elixir of youth, so it is not surprising that even non-scientists closely follow the latest research into aging. But is what most people consider simply a fact of life actually a “disease” that can be cured? Or is..."

"“Trigger warnings just don’t help,” Payton Jones, a clinical psychology doctoral student at Harvard, tweeted alongside a preprint of his new paper. He further explained that the paper actually suggests that trigger warnings might even be harmful."

"A few years ago, Maya Nanda began noticing a strange pattern among her patients. A pediatric allergist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center at the time, Nanda treated children who had reactions to everything from pollen to pets, and..."

"Five decades after sending humans to the Moon, NASA is tasked with repeating the feat—and doing it by 2024, the ambitious deadline set by U.S. President Donald Trump’s team. But it is unclear how the space agency will surmount some formidable..."

"On the morning of July 4, my wife and I were sitting at the breakfast table when the effects of a 6.4-magnitude earthquake outside Ridgecrest, Calif., hit our home. A sensation of dizziness, then nausea, rolled over me as the back wall of our..."

"I used to be able to memorize the order of a deck of cards. This was when I worked at the mall food court. I learned because a mean older boy on whom I had a big, destructive crush bought me a copy of Joshua Foer’s pop-science memoir Moonwalking..."

"The answer to this question could affect all of our lives more than nearly any other policy decision out there: How, if it all, should humanity respond if we get a message from an alien civilization? And yet politicians and scientists have..."

"The interconnection of the world is a wonder. Consider the United States Declaration of Independence, says Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson, a conservation biologist. It was written with the help of a wasp. In July, 1776, when Timothy Matlack, a clerk..."

"A small shark spots its prey—a meaty, seemingly defenseless octopus. The shark ambushes, and then, in one of the most astonishing sequences in the series Blue Planet II, the octopus escapes. First, it shoves one of its arms into the predator’s..."

"We appear to be on the cusp of an era where humans live outside this pale blue dot. According to some newly leaked NASA documents, the agency hopes to build a moon base by 2028. That settlement will allow us to test the skills and tools we’ll..."

"The mirror world, assuming it exists, would have its own laws of mirror-physics and its own mirror-history. You wouldn’t find a mirror version of yourself there (and no evil Mister Spock with a goatee — sorry "Star Trek" fans). But current theory.."

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JJ Editor's Picks

"On Christmas Eve of 1966, Paddy Roy Bates, a retired British army major, drove a small boat with an outboard motor seven miles off the coast of England into the North Sea. He had sneaked out of his house in the middle of the night, inspired..."

"The book that changed lecturer, activist, and current presidential candidate Marianne Williamson’s life, A Course in Miracles, is not available for free online, but its workbook is. You can find it on the website for the Foundation for..."

"Here are two sets of statements from far-distant opposites in the climate change debate. The first is from Naomi Klein, who in her book This Changes Everything paints a bleak picture of a global socioeconomic system gone wrong: “There is a..."

"Voters who trust their government — and each other — are more supportive of ambitious welfare states than those who do not. Across nations, high levels of social trust correlate with high levels of social spending. The relationship between these..."

"With the presidential campaign under way, expect to hear a lot more about a shiny new toy of progressive economic thinking, “modern monetary theory.” It seems to be the only intellectual contortion that might allow candidates to promise..."

"“We don’t want to fight y’all. We’re not trying to go to jail.” That’s what A$AP Rocky, the 30-year-old New York City rapper, can be heard saying in a video of an encounter with strangers in Sweden that has ballooned into an international crisis."

"Israel’s top officials are considering denying Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib entry to their country due to their outspoken, controversial criticism of Israel’s policy toward Palestinians, not to mention their slurs against American Jews as..."

"For most of our lives, we have been conditioned to share a piece of personal information without a moment’s hesitation: our phone number. We punch in our digits at the grocery store to get a member discount or at the pharmacy to pick up..."