This Floating Contraption Could Scoop Out Absurd Amounts of Ocean Plastic
A 21-year-old named Boyan Slat says he can solve one of the greatest ecological disasters of our age: the build-up of vast amounts of plastic in our oceans. The young Dutchman, often photographed in a t-shirt and shorts, says he’s designed a structure that will harvest and recycle much of that waste.Made from a combination […]
The Caveman Guide to Parenting
Every evening as the sun sets, Robb Wolf begins his nightly ritual: While his two daughters play, he slowly dims the lights, just a few lumens every 20 to 30 minutes, until the house, in Reno, Nevada, is dark. The family is asleep before 8 p.m. and awake before dawn, as Wolf imagines our ancestors […]
The Powerful Allure of the Deep Azure
There was a place in Iowa in 1995, tucked away in the dark-green fields of soybeans and corn, where a flooded rock quarry shimmered aquamarine. I stood on its edge one hot summer day with two friends. Like most teenagers, we were drawn to the rebelliousness of it. To get there, we had to trespass […]
Is This New Swim Stroke the Fastest Yet?
The surprising performance and physics of the fish kick.
Our Ancestors Were Babysitters
When anthropologist Alyssa Crittenden began studying the Hadza people of Tanzania 10 years ago, she was surprised to see an 8-year-old girl head out to forage for golden kongolobe berries with her 1-year-old niece swaddled snugly on her back. The behavior starkly contrasted Crittenden’s own experience growing up in the United States, where mothers often […]
Why Expectant Mothers Can Just Chill Out
Sodapix/Getty When philosopher Nicolas Malebranche peered at a fetus floating in a glass jar, in a shop of curiosities in Paris in 1672, he blamed its monstrous shape on the mother. At the time it was believed that a mother could deform her fetus simply by looking at something vivid. Malebranche had heard that this […]
Why Does Mass Hysteria Affect Mostly Women?
In 2012, in Le Roy, New York, four cheerleaders developed Tourette’s-like symptoms, which eventually spread to 13 others. In 2011, nearly 2,000 female factory workers fainted on the job in factories throughout Cambodia. In 1962, laughing fits took over half the population of an all-girls school in a village in East Africa. In 1560 in […]
Why Do People Have Such Strong Feelings for the Portland Airport’s Carpet?
A typical view of the Portland airport’s old carpet on social mediaMichael Morgan via Flickr “Take a pic of your feet on the carpet,” texted my sister. I had just landed in Portland, Oregon, to visit my siblings, and was walking to the airport exit. Autocorrect must have made a mistake, I thought. Yet I […]
Is DNA the Language of the Book of Life?
Thinking of nucleobases as a long sequence of letters may contribute to the illusion that DNA is a language.Neil Palmer / CIAT via Flickr When we talk about genes, we often use expressions inherited from a few influential geneticists and evolutionary biologists, including Francis Crick, James Watson, and Richard Dawkins. These expressions depict DNA as […]