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Heroes

  • FSR_Charlemange

    We Are All Princes, Paupers, and Part of the Human Family

    I recently discovered that my 10-times-great-grandfather bought a good chunk of Brooklyn from the Lenape Indians. He was one of the first Dutch landowners on this continent, a man who had run a laundry bleaching business in Holland but had traveled under the auspices of the Dutch West India Company to become a farmer in […]

  • hamilton coding_HERO

    Why Did Obama Just Honor Bug-free Software?

    The Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, is usually associated with famous awardees—people like Bruce Springsteen, Stephen Hawking, and Sandra Day O’Connor. So as a computer scientist, I was thrilled to see one of this year’s awards go to a lesser-known pioneer: one Margaret Hamilton. You might call Hamilton the founding mother of […]

  • Spark_FRANKLIN_HERO

    Spark of Science: Melissa Franklin

    Harvard’s first tenured woman physicist tells us about her heroes and her work.

  • Spark-Pringle_HERO

    Spark of Science: Rob Pringle

    The Princeton ecologist tells us about the scientists who inspired his work.

  • jesus flying_HERO

    How a Defense of Christianity Revolutionized Brain Science

    Presbyterian reverend Thomas Bayes had no reason to suspect he’d make any lasting contribution to humankind. Born in England at the beginning of the 18th century, Bayes was a quiet and questioning man. He published only two works in his lifetime. In 1731, he wrote a defense of God’s—and the British monarchy’s—“divine benevolence,” and in […]

  • Henderson-HERO_2

    What Does Any of This Have To Do with Physics?

    Einstein and Feynman ushered me into grad school, reality ushered me out.

  • lucy walking skeleton

    Why Are You So Smart? Thank Mom & Your Difficult Birth

      Looking around our planet today, it’s hard not to be struck by humanity’s uniqueness. We are the only species around that writes books, runs experiments, and builds skyscrapers. Our intelligence must have also been useful when we were evolving—presumably it helped us to be better hunters and avoid being hunted ourselves, for instance. Perhaps […]

  • Hustvedt_HERO

    The Novelist and Critic Siri Hustvedt Raises an Eyebrow at Science

    What separates the sciences from the humanities? What unites them? And how can they each illuminate the nature of mind and self? These were some of the questions on Siri Hustvedt’s mind as she began her new book of essays, A Woman Looking At Men Looking At Women. Hustvedt herself has an omnivorous professional history that […]

  • chytrid fungus spore

    How “Useless” Science Unraveled an Amphibian Apocalypse

    One spring day in 1984, Joyce Longcore got a phone call from Joan Brooks, a biologist at the University of Maine. Brooks had received a National Science Foundation grant to study the interactions of fungi and bacteria in peat bogs. She needed a hand, and she heard through the grapevine that Longcore knew a bit […]

  • hitchens_HERO

    Why Christopher Hitchens Was a Hero to Scientists

    The writer had a reverence for science and philosophy, and a conviction that both should be the basis of personal belief and ethics in society.