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  • Context

    Among its many peculiarities, the human brain has a habit of not responding in the same way to identical inputs. This may be due to the fact that our eyes and ears are noisy instruments, or because signals move in a stochastic fashion from neuron to neuron. It may also simply be a matter of […]

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    What Impossible Meant to Feynman

    Physicist Paul Steinhardt remembers a great mentor and scientist.

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    The Case for Professors of Stupidity

    Bertrand Russell’s quip prefigured the scientific discovery of a cognitive bias—the Dunning–Kruger effect—that has been so resonant that it has penetrated popular culture.Wikicommons On this past International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I reread a bit of Bertrand Russell. In 1933, dismayed at the Nazification of Germany, the philosopher wrote “The Triumph of Stupidity,” attributing the rise […]

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    Paradox Is Illuminating the Black Hole

    How reconciling opposites is driving the science of black holes forward.

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    Studies Shoot Down Tech’s Harmful Effects on Kids—So Now What?

    Ultimately, what matters most is that we provide our children with a sense of agency and autonomy by teaching them that tools don’t use us, we use them.Photograph by Iakov Filimonov / Shutterstock It looks like grownups can disregard the fear-mongering about the ill effects of digital media on kids. A 2017 study in Child […]

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    Why Doing Good Makes It Easier to Be Bad

    Oscar Wilde, the famed Irish essayist and playwright, had a gift, among other things, for counterintuitive aphorisms. In “The Soul of Man Under Socialism,” an 1891 article, he wrote, “Charity creates a multitude of sins.” So perhaps Wilde wouldn’t have been surprised to hear of a series of recent scandals in the U.K.: The all-male […]

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    The Rise and Fall of the Living Fossil

    The idea that some species are relics that have stopped evolving is finally going extinct.

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    Gene Drives Reach Mammals

    A new genetic technology that can quickly change entire populations gets broader.

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    How Black Holes Nearly Ruined Time

    Quantum mechanics rescued our understanding of past and future from the black hole.

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    Why Poverty Is Like a Disease

    Emerging science is putting the lie to American meritocracy.