Freeman Dyson on How Robert Oppenheimer Ran Hot and Cold
Robert Oppenheimer could be extremely generous and friendly or he could be very harsh. He was very quick to judge and decide that somebody was no good, and then that was final.Photograph by Ed Westcott (U.S. Government photographer) / Wikicommons Kai Bird is miffed. His 2005 Pulitzer Prize-winning book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy […]
Announcing a New Science Magazine from Yale
The need for specialization and caution in the scientific community is no excuse for its members to renege on the responsibility to engage with the larger community of people we serve.Image courtesy Ancient Fund of the Library of the University of Seville / Flickr Open any newspaper, on-screen or off, and you’ll find that scientific […]
Bombers and Pterosaurs Were Both Before Their Time
The evolution of B-2s and lizards.
We May Never Truly Fathom Other Cultures
Our discrete cultural universes are not easily bridged.Inca Princess – La Gran Ñusta Mama Occollo (early 1800s) / Denver Art Museum / Wikicommons If they’re honest and humble enough, people who study societies that existed in the Americas before the arrival of Europeans will admit that they don’t really understand those societies. They’ll know the facts about […]
How My Nobel Dream Bit the Dust
My team thought we’d proved cosmological inflation. We were wrong.
Your Brain’s Music Circuit Has Been Discovered
The discovery that certain neurons have “music selectivity” stirs questions about the role of music in human life. Illustration by Len Small Before Josh McDermott was a neuroscientist, he was a club DJ in Boston and Minneapolis. He saw first-hand how music could unite people in sound, rhythm, and emotion. “One of the reasons it […]
The Case Against Lectures
Depending on the speaker, lectures can be a joy, but, the efficacy of the lecture, as a teaching method, is in doubt.Photograph by ESB Professional / Shutterstock Getting “lectured” is rarely, if ever, a pleasant experience. You’re being told what to do and think, or even chastised. Don’t lecture me, we like to say. Having […]
The Case Against an Autonomous Military
The potential harm of AIs deliberately designed to kill in warfare is much more pressing than self-driving car accidents.Photograph by Airman 1st Class James Thompson / U.S. Air Force In 2016, a Mercedes-Benz executive was quoted as saying that the company’s self-driving autos would put the safety of its own occupants first. This comment brought […]
Pick the Statistic You Want to Be
Understanding the odds lets you play with them.
Can a Wandering Mind Make You Neurotic?
The connection between inner thought and neuroticism feeds the myth of the suffering creative genius.Woman with wax tablets and stylus (so-called “Sappho”) / Wikicommons I have two children, and they are a study in contrasts: My son works at a gym designing and building rock-climbing walls; In his spare time, he climbs them. My daughter […]