Why is “Honey Boo-Boo” a megastar? Fame can seem an empty category. But it also shows up everywhere. Daniel Dennett has described consciousness as the happy spoils of a competition among various representations of reality: “fame in the brain.” Is fame an important natural process, and our obsession with it inevitable?
One Weird Trick to Save the World (Using Polar Bears)
This is exactly the kind of photo you would not see in environmentalist literature.BMJ / Shutterstock When environmentalists petitioned to designate the polar bear a threatened animal under the Endangered Species Act in 2005, they were not, in fact, out to save the polar bear. They were out to save the world. Since the polar […]
Purest of the Purists: The Puzzling Case of Grigori Perelman
Grigori Perelman became famous, despite his adamant opposition, for proving a conjecture from Henri Poincaré, pictured here. In November 2002, a Russian mathematician named Grigori Perelman posted the first of three short preprints to the arXiv (an online repository for drafts of academic papers in math and science), offering a proof for the famous Poincare […]
Teaching Your Body to Fight the Enemy Within
Some cancer therapies focus the attention of the immune system like a spotlight over Hollywood.Everett Collection / Shutterstock In early May, 1891, William Coley, a New York surgeon, had before him an interesting case. The patient, a 35-year-old Italian man, had sarcoma tumors in his neck and tonsils, and was slowly starving to death as […]
How the Law Protects the Idea of a Famous Person
A woman walks in to the room. She is wearing a white dress and has a mole over her bright red lips. She could be anybody, but you might have instantly guessed she was Marilyn Monroe. For every famous person, there is a handful of traits that we use to recognize them. Caricaturists and comedians […]
How Much Do You Remember the Old-Fashioned Way, Sans Google?
It began like so many creative endeavors—with a barstool discussion. “Who would be your television dad?” New York artist Amanda Tiller mused. A friend chose Cliff Huxtable, Bill Cosby’s alter ego on The Cosby Show. Later, Tiller thought a lot about Cosby and his famously be-sweatered character: We all know Cliff, a beloved father, doctor, […]
The Underdogs of Fame
This issue of Nautilus deals with fame: what it is, where it resides, and why. But we all know that fame is a fickle beast, smiling upon a fortunate few and forsaking others who are more deserving. So, tell us, who should be more famous than they are? Who’s the most underrated scientist, thinker, […]
All Cells Bulletin: How Fame Powers Your Immune System
When talking about our health, we tend to refer breezily to “the immune system,” as if it were as simple as an electric fence keeping out invaders. And there’s certainly an electric fence component: The innate immune response is an ancient, relatively nonspecific kind of defense that triggers inflammation and the deployment of attack cells […]
Medical Terms That Still Bear the Mark of the Third Reich
Dr. Hans Reiter achieved the one thing most likely to keep a physician’s name in textbooks forever: He got an illness named after him. While working as a medic in the German army in World War I, he once treated a case of simultaneous inflammation in the joints, eyes, and urethra. This became known as […]
The Twin Prime Hero
Rags, riches, and fame in mathematics.