What a Russian Smile Means
How culture and history make American and Russian smiles different.
Climate Change Is Making Plants Behave Like Costco Shoppers
Plants have their own form of money: carbon dioxide. For decades, our fossil fuel industry has been artificially inflating their currency. What happens to plants during inflation—when CO2 levels in the atmosphere rise? The same thing that happens if you drop money from the sky over Times Square, leaving everyone there with $1,000 in their […]
Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness—But Time Just Might Do It
A city’s pace of life was indeed “significantly related” to the physical, social, and psychological well-being of its inhabitants.Photograph by Neta Bartal / Flickr While on vacation in distant locales, people often find that time moves quite differently than in the places they’re used to. In the tropics, we settle into the grooves of “island […]
Why Social Science Needs Evolutionary Theory
The lack of willingness to view human cognition and behavior as within the purview of evolutionary processes has prevented evolution from being fully integrated into the social science curriculum.Photograph by David Carillet / Shutterstock My high school biology teacher, Mr. Whittington, put a framed picture of a primate ancestor in the front of his classroom—a […]
Making Time Machines From Taxi Meters
A sculptor explains how his art upends time.
We Need to Save Ignorance From AI
In an age of all-knowing algorithms, how do we choose not to know?
Desert Air Will Give Us Water
A partial solution to the problem of punishing droughts may be to snatch water from the air, Dune-style.Photograph by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center / Flickr Last year, after a punishing four-year drought, California lifted emergency water-scarcity measures in all but four counties. Residents could sigh in relief but not without resignation. “This drought emergency […]
Evidence Found for a New Fundamental Particle
Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog. Physicists are both thrilled and baffled by a new report from a neutrino experiment at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago. The MiniBooNE experiment has detected far more neutrinos of a particular type than expected, a finding that is most easily explained by the existence of a new elementary particle: a […]
Larry David and the Game Theory of Anonymous Donations
What’s intriguing about anonymous giving, and other behaviors apparently designed to obscure good traits and acts, like modesty, is that it’s “hard to reconcile with standard evolutionary accounts of pro-social behavior.”Photograph by David Hume Kennerly / Getty In a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode from 2007, Larry David and his wife Cheryl and their friends attend […]
What Time Feels Like When You’re Improvising
The neurology of flow states.