Nautilus11 мин. чтенияPhysics
Our Little Life Is Rounded with Possibility: Science expressed only in terms of what happens is getting in the way of progress.
If you could soar high in the sky, as red kites often do in search of prey, and look down at the domain of all things known and yet to be known, you would see something very curious: a vast class of things that science has so far almost entirely negl
Nautilus8 мин. чтенияIntelligence (AI) & Semantics
Do You Want AI to Be Conscious?: Consciousness is an important function for us. Why not for our machines?
People often ask me whether human-level artificial intelligence will eventually become conscious. My response is: Do you want it to be conscious? I think it is largely up to us whether our machines will wake up. That may sound presumptuous. The mecha
Nautilus7 мин. чтенияBiology
Data Crunchers To The Rescue: Genetic diseases that puzzle lab scientists are being solved by quantitative biologists.
The boy was only a month old but had developed the amount of health problems that other people don’t acquire in a lifetime. He was constantly suffering from bacterial infections, battling unexplained inflammation, not gaining weight, and—scariest of
Nautilus5 мин. чтенияSecurity
We Already Know How to Stop SolarWinds-Like Hacks
Last year, hackers made headlines after they breached SolarWinds, a software company that specializes in network monitoring software. About 33,000 organizations, including the Pentagon, the U.S. State Department, and some intelligence agencies, use O
Nautilus5 мин. чтенияMedical
The “Lab Leak”: It’s Not Enough to Say Accidents Happen
Disasters evoke a search for who to blame. Mishandled disasters make that search vital for anyone whose actions or inactions may have amplified the catastrophe’s damage. As the official United States COVID death toll reaches 600,000, those two dynami
Nautilus6 мин. чтения
How to Make Sense of Contradictory Science Papers: Published research is less about conclusions than science at play.
The science you can come across today can often appear to be full of contradictory claims. One study tells you red wine is good for your heart; another tells you it is not. Over the past year, COVID-19 research has offered conflicting reports about t
Nautilus7 мин. чтенияEnvironmental Science
If Only 19th-Century America Had Listened to a Woman Scientist: Where might the US be if it heeded her discovery of global warming’s source?
Human-induced climate change may seem a purely modern phenomenon. Even in ancient Greece, however, people understood that human activities can change climate. Later the early United States was a lab for observing this as its settlers altered nature.
Nautilus12 мин. чтения
Tarzan Wasn’t for Her: It took an outsider to restore women to the story of human evolution.
Elaine Morgan had sass. In Descent of Woman, published in 1972, she asked her readers to take science into their own hands. “Try a bit of fieldwork,” she suggested. “Go out of your front door and try to spot some live specimens of Homo sapiens in his
Nautilus14 мин. чтенияGender Studies
Are We Cut Out for Universal Morality?: If objective ethical values exist, we’ll have to give up tribalism to realize them.
Footage of a mob storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in an effort to subvert the legal and peaceful transfer of power, filled many of us with horror. Underlying that response was our indignation at the brazen violation of central democratic institu
Nautilus14 мин. чтенияPolitical Ideologies
Why Misinformation Is About Who You Trust, Not What You Think: Two philosophers of science diagnose our age of fake news.
I can’t see them. Therefore they’re not real.” From which century was this quote drawn? Not a medieval one. The utterance emerged in February 2019 from Fox & Friends presenter Pete Hegseth, who was referring to … germs. The former Princeton Universit
Nautilus11 мин. чтения
How Taboos Can Help Protect the Oceans: Pacific Islanders are charting a new course for ocean conservation.
In 1777—after whipping local people for trivial offenses, spreading venereal disease, and clumsily avoiding a plot to kill him—the English explorer James Cook left the shores of Tonga laden with treasures. Not least among them was a word scrawled in
Nautilus7 мин. чтенияBiology
The Man Who Drank Cholera and Launched the Yogurt Craze: Ilya Metchnikoff laid the foundation for modern probiotics.
When Ilya Metchnikoff was 8 and running around on his parents’ Panassovka estate in Little Russia, now Ukraine, he was making notes on the local flora like a junior botanist. He gave science lectures to his older brothers and local kids whose attenda
Nautilus8 мин. чтенияPsychology
The English Professor Who Foresaw Modern Neuroscience: Science and the humanities weren’t separate cultures to this critic.
In the 21st century, neuroscience has been able to extend our understanding of the brain beyond brain anatomy to an increasingly functional view of cognition. Every year brings new insights on memory and imagination, and reveals often surprising area
Nautilus9 мин. чтенияRelationships
Science Isn’t Here for Your Mommy Shaming: When people sensationalize research, parents pay the price.
A few years ago, Time magazine published an article titled, “Cell-Phone Distracted Parenting Can Have Long Term Consequences.”1 It reported research supposedly showing that “distracted parental attention” could hurt infant development, and especially
Nautilus9 мин. чтенияAstronomy & Space Sciences
Should We Terraform Mars? Let’s Recap: Elon Musk wants to engineer Mars’ atmosphere. Can he?
It seemed inevitable that Elon Musk would eventually get into a Twitter war over whether Mars can be terraformed. When you’re on Twitter, he told Businessweek in July, 2018, you’re “in meme war land.” “And so essentially if you attack me,” he said, “
Nautilus11 мин. чтенияAviation & Aeronautics
The Profound Potential of Elon Musk’s New Rocket: An aerospace engineer explains why SpaceX’s Starship will change everything.
In the late afternoon of May 5, SpaceX’s Elon Musk tweeted, “Starship landing nominal!” Musk is not known for understatement. But seeing that stainless steel behemoth soar was, for many, something more like phenomenal. Over 5 million people watched t
Nautilus6 мин. чтенияEarth Sciences
The Largest Cells on Earth: Deep in the ocean abyss, xenophyophores are worlds unto themselves.
Imagine you’re a scientist, sitting in the cold dark belly of a ship above an ocean abyss. Your eyes are fixed on a panel of screens as a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) descends miles below your feet. First the ROV travels through the productive sun
Nautilus7 мин. чтенияPsychology
Why People Feel Like Victims: Getting to the core of today’s social acrimony.
In a polarized nation, victimhood is a badge of honor. It gives people strength. “The victim has become among the most important identity positions in American politics,” wrote Robert B. Horwitz, a communications professor at the University of Califo
Nautilus9 мин. чтения
You Can’t Dissect a Virtual Cadaver: What is lost when we lose in-person learning.
Last year, my first in medical school at Columbia University, I used a bone saw to slice through the top half of a cadaver’s skull, revealing a gray brain lined with purple blood vessels. This was Clinical Gross Anatomy, the first-year course that ha
Nautilus5 мин. чтенияChemistry
How Maxwell’s Demon Continues to Startle Scientists
Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog. The universe bets on disorder. Imagine, for example, dropping a thimbleful of red dye into a swimming pool. All of those dye molecules are going to slowly spread throughout the water
Nautilus6 мин. чтения
How Surprising Connections Can Save the Ocean: Marine biologist Heather Koldewey on conservation, seahorses, and cross-discipline work.
Many marine biologists identify a gateway drug into their obsession, and for Heather Koldewey, it was the seahorse. Who can blame her? Seahorses seem to have evolved not entirely in the ocean, but also by way of a whimsical storybook, in which animal
Nautilus9 мин. чтенияScience & Mathematics
Our Most Effective Weapon Is Imagination: Why science changes everything.
In his Theaetetus, Plato remarks to Socrates: “This pathos is proper to the philosopher: It is the thaumazein. And philosophy has no other point of departure than this.” The word, which contains the root thauma, the same that appears in thaumaturgy,
Nautilus5 мин. чтенияPsychology
Why We Love to Be Grossed Out
Nina Strohminger, perhaps not unlike many fans of raunchy comedies and horror flicks, is drawn to disgust. The University of Pennsylvania psychologist has written extensively on the feeling of being grossed out, and where it comes from. The dominant
Nautilus8 мин. чтенияChemistry
A Wrinkle in Nature Could Lead to Alien Life: There may be more than one way to tune a universe for life.
I grew up in a small village in a very rural part of England. It was a landscape capped with the huge skies of a low-lying coastal zone. Gently rolling fields, long hedgerows, and a lot of farms. Some of the people running those farms came from so ma
Nautilus14 мин. чтения
The Botanist Who Defied Stalin: His dream of feeding the world died in prison. His dream of a seed bank lives on.
In 1913, 26-year-old Russian biologist Nikolai Vavilov went to the John Innes Horticultural Institute to study at the feet of legendary geneticist William Bateson. While there, Vavilov attended lectures at nearby Cambridge University, and could often
Nautilus7 мин. чтения
The Mother of All Accidents: Odds are, if an asteroid hadn’t crashed into Earth, we wouldn’t be here.
In 2001, Seth MacFarlane was the 27-year-old executive producer and creator of the not-yet-hit animated show Family Guy. Having broken into the entertainment big leagues at such a young age, MacFarlane was invited back in September to address his alm
Nautilus4 мин. чтенияScience & Mathematics
Carbon, It’s Elementary, Dear Reader: A selection of illustrations from the new book Carbon, One Atom’s Odyssey.
Like most American high school students, I was required to take Chemistry and English. Chemistry thrilled only by way of the absurdity of allowing kids like me to play with volatile compounds and an open flame. English provided little of that thrill
Nautilus9 мин. чтенияPsychology
The Weak Case for Grit: Where’s the evidence that grit predicts success?
It might surprise you to find out how little evidence there is to support the idea that boosting students’ “grit”—their propensity to tenaciously attack difficult problems they encounter rather than give up—is a reliably effective way to improve thei
Nautilus14 мин. чтенияMedical
How to Conquer COVID-19 Amid a Confederacy of Dunces: Science can’t be democratic, says an outspoken virologist.
Robert Burioni is a virologist at the San Raffaele University in Milan, Italy, and a serious scientist. But in 2016, something happened that changed his course. He was on television with two anti-vaxxers—a famous actress and a former DJ—who were taki
Nautilus12 мин. чтенияBiology
The Vast Viral World: What We Know (and Don’t Know): Exploring the minuscule and mysterious world of viruses.
Slightly ovoid in shape and somewhat blurred at the edges, the black splotches were scattered across a mottled gray background, looking much like a postmodern painting. At a meeting of the Medical Society of Berlin in 1938, Helmut Ruska, a German phy
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