Bookmarks (347)

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    Do We Need a Theory of Everything?

    I get constantly asked if I could please comment on other people’s theories of everything. That...

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    The Contagion Detective

    The COVID-19 pandemic was some epidemiologist’s nightmare when Adam Kucharski was writing Rules of Contagion. Released...

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    The Damage We’re Not Attending To

    World War II bomber planes returned from their missions riddled with bullet holes. The first response...

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    The Things We Can’t Control Are Beautiful

    Poker players like to brag they win with luck not skill. So do investment bankers. Scientists....

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    What I Learned from Losing $200 Million

    I’d lost almost $200 million in October. November wasn’t looking any better. It was 2008, after...

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    This Philosophical Argument Convinced People to Give More to Charity

    How much would you pay to prevent your own child becoming blind?Photograph by 1000Photography / ShutterstockLast...

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    How the Pandemic Has Tested Behavioral Science

    In the interplay between behavioral science and policy, puffs of smoke abound.Photo illustration by metamorworks /...

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    The Dr. Strange of the American Revolution

    In Rush, author Stephen Fried confirms what earlier biographical writings on the doctor had observed: that...

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    The Glassmaker Who Sparked Astrophysics

    The lights in the sky above us—the sun, the moon, and the panoply of countless stars—have...

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    Steven Pinker on the Tribal Roots of Defying Social Distancing

    Partly because people think of experts as oracles, as opposed to experimenters and exploiters of trial...

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    The Mystery of the Dark Asteroid That Scorched Russia

    On a June morning in 1908, above a sleepy forest in the Siberian Taiga plush with...

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    The Trouble with Counting Alien Civilizations

    You might imagine that in the midst of a global pandemic and all of its social...

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    Why Birds Can Fly Over Mount Everest

    Dear Bella,I’m going to imitate Rudyard Kipling and tell you a just-so story. Kipling was one...

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    Life on Earth Is a Sketchy Guide to an Alien Civilization

    Any assumptions about properties like intelligence or agency that we make based on what we currently...

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    The Animal Kingdom Should Have Father’s Day Too

    A concerned clownfish father looking after his nest of tiny, orange eggs.Justin RhodesBecoming a parent brings...

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    Why Aliens and Volcanoes Go Together

    The novelist William Golding suggested to James Lovelock that he name his now-famous hypothesis after the...

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    A Neuroscientist’s Theory of Everything

    Karl Friston wanted me to know he had plenty of time. That wasn’t quite true. He...

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    Could an AI Be Immortal?

    Consider Data, the android from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Suppose he finds himself on a...

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    Drowning in Light

    In 1996, Yale economist William D. Nordhaus calculated that the average citizen of Babylon would have...

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    Let Game Theory Tell You When It’s Time to Go Shopping

    By using this methodology, combined with available information from Google maps to measure store size and...

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    Einstein’s Lost Hypothesis

    When Ernest Sternglass walked up the steps at 112 Mercer Street in April 1947, he knew...

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    The Road Less Traveled to Fusion Energy

    The modern quest for Promethean fire is underway in an anonymous office park in Foothill Ranch,...

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    Why Is the Human Brain So Efficient?

    The brain is complex; in humans it consists of about 100 billion neurons, making on the...

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    No Country for Old People

    Sweden did not set out to kill thousands of its older citizens. Nor did any country...

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    Evolution Is the Greatest Show on Earth

    Science can be a peculiar source of joy—the joy, largely unique to human beings, of understanding...

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    Young and Healthy and Waiting to Get Cancer

    I’m young and perfectly healthy, but I’m waiting for the day when I finally get sick....

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    Mice on Acid

    In the bowels of an animal research facility at Oxford University, mice are stirring in cages....

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    A Vision of Our Post-Lockdown Future

    Xu Jiao was anxious to get back in the gym. Living in Chengdu, the capital of...

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    Welcome Back, Animals!

    The shelter-in-place orders and the massive drop in human activity in our cities, designed to slow...

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    The Health Clinic Crisis on Main Street

    Things have been different at the Tumwater Family Practice Clinic since COVID-19 came. Its patients in...

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    Most of the Mind Can’t Tell Fact from Fiction

    Even after you understand how an illusion operates, it continues to fool part of your mind....

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    Electrons May Very Well Be Conscious

    Panpsychists look at the many rungs on the complexity ladder of nature and see no obvious...

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    The Carouser and the Great Astronomer

    The two men in the coach were both 28 years old, born within a few months...

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    The Hidden Life of Viruses

    If there is one thing that the coronavirus pandemic has exposed, it is that there is...

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    A Window on Africa’s Resilience

    We called Greg Carr the other day to talk about the spread of the coronavirus in...

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    Why COVID-19 Flare-Ups Will Keep Happening

    We all want to get back to our lives—go out for a drink, see a movie,...

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    The Book That Invented the World

    Abraham Ortelius, with his comprehensive atlas, gave us not disenchantment, but a differing enchantment—a sense of...

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    Why People Feel Misinformed, Confused, and Terrified About the Pandemic

    The officials deciding what to open, and when, seldom offer thoughtful rationales. Clearly, risk communication about...

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    A Window on Africa’s Resilience

     The coronavirus news from Mozambique is mixed, as it is in much of sub-Saharan Africa. Many...

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    What’s Missing in Pandemic Models

    In the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous models are being used to predict the future. But as helpful...

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    Don’t Fear the Robot

    You probably know my robot. I’ve been inventing autonomous machines for over 30 years and one...

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    How Science Trumps Denial

    There’s an old belief that truth will always overcome error. Alas, history tells us something different....

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    Guided by Plant Voices

    Plants are intelligent beings with profound wisdom to impart—if only we know how to listen. And...

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    How COVID-19 Will Pass from Pandemic to Prosaic

    The final outcome of COVID-19 is still unclear. It will ultimately be decided by our patience...

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    Straight Talk About a COVID-19 Vaccine

    There are many challenges to developing a vaccine that will be successful against COVID-19.eamesBot / ShutterstockWayne...

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    The Ecological Vision That Will Save Us

    The marquee on my closed neighborhood movie theater reads, “See you on the other side.” I...

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    The Economic Damage Is Barely Conceivable

    Like most of us, Adam Tooze is stuck at home. The British-born economic historian and Columbia...

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    Superintelligent, Amoral, and Out of Control

    In the summer of 1956, a small group of mathematicians and computer scientists gathered at Dartmouth...

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    The Case Against Thinking Outside of the Box

    Social, cultural, economic, spiritual, psychological, emotional, intellectual: Everything is outside the box. And this new sheltered-in-place...

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    What Role Will Immunity Play in Conquering COVID-19?

    It seems like people who get infected with SARS-CoV-2 retain immunity, but we can’t be sure...