When Dark Humor Stops Being Funny
Experiencing small doses of negative emotions, elicited by an offensive joke, may make us more resilient to future, more serious set backs.Photograph by Barry Brecheisen / Getty Images In either ninth or tenth grade, my friend Dan and I found a book of “Truly Tasteless Jokes” on the cafeteria floor. Our teenage psyches were quickly […]
When Does Dark Humor Stop Being Funny?
In either ninth or tenth grade, my friend Dan and I found a book of “Truly Tasteless Jokes” on the cafeteria floor. Our teenage psyches were quickly mesmerized, and we spent the majority of lunch reading it cover to cover. I laughed at one dead baby joke in particular (which I can’t repeat here). It […]
Why Is “Survivor” Still on Television?
Exactly four months and 31 days into what was, at that time, still being called “The New Millennium,” CBS aired the first-ever episode of Survivor. Bill Clinton was still in office, the NASDAQ Composite Index had just peaked at 5,048, and the twin towers still stood in New York City. Since then America has […]
Why Do We Love #Fail Videos?
If the Internet has shown me one thing, it’s my own astounding capacity to waste time. The rabbit holes online are deep and rich and usually absolutely fruitless. But I’m fascinated by anything that’s addictive, and my personal black tar heroin is, without doubt, “fail” videos. You know the sort—a 10-minute compilation of six-second clips […]
Will You Be Able to Read this Article in 1,000 Years?
If you ask Anthony Weiner, digital records—especially those on the Internet—can seem impossibly hard to get rid of. When a picture or document is reduced to a series of 1s and 0s, it becomes transmissible, reproducible, downloadable, and storable. You can’t burn digital books, and ideas like cloud computing make it possible to back up […]
The Gravekeeper’s Paradox
People want permanent tombstones that also show decay.
How “Meaning Withdrawal,” aka Boredom, Can Boost Creativity
The power of mind-wandering.
If Half of All Species Go Extinct, Will One of Them Be Us?
Biodiversity JengaMartin Sharman How many animal species do you think go extinct every year? Last week I conducted a highly unscientific polling of around 20 of my Facebook and Google Chat contacts, asking that same question. I’m not trying to brag, but I have some really smart friends, many of them with degrees in biology. […]
Using Sharks’ Tricks to Prevent Lethal and Costly Infections
Staph bacteria (red) forming a biofilmNational Science Foundation A common enemy befouls surgeons, plumbers, and sailors alike: slime. In each of their professions, they wage ceaseless war against biofouling—layers of living organisms that stick around exactly where we don’t want them. Removing these various scum layers is a billion-dollar endeavor. Nautilus Members enjoy an ad-free […]
If You Can’t Beat Diseases, Domesticate Them
A tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) sucking blood from human skinMarco Uliana via Shutterstock For most of our history, wolves have been a menace to humanity. Sharp teeth, raw speed, and pack coordination put us at serious risk. Their howls still send chills down our spines for good reason. But some thousands of years ago, some […]