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Illusions

  • Illusions

    Long before David Blaine, there was the mimicry of the tiger moth—it avoids bats by emitting an ultrasonic signature similar to that of a noxious species. Long before that, some physicists say, an alien civilization launched an intricate simulation of reality, which we currently inhabit. Even if that hypothesis is false, don’t we entertain our […]

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    The Long, Hard Quest to Create Digital Smells

    Of all of the wondrous feats accomplished by Willy Wonka in his candy factory, the most impressive may have been wedging an entire meal into just one unassuming stick of gum: Upon popping it in your mouth and chewing, you’d first taste tomato soup, then roast beef and baked potato, and finally blueberry pie and […]

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    What to Do When Your Brain Insists You’re Always on a Boat

    Zvonimir Orec via Shutterstock   Last July, Chris Perry went on an Alaskan cruise with her family to celebrate her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. When she boarded the massive Norwegian Sun cruise ship, she felt “a little woozy and weird” from the boat’s gentle rocking, she remembers, but the sensation quickly faded. Perry didn’t feel […]

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    The Last Word with Jonathan Weiner

    The more science knows, the more rich and mysterious the world becomes.

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    The New Way to Save Money: Playing the Lottery

    Chris Goldberg via Flickr Lotteries have often been called a tax on the poor and, alternately, a tax on the innumerate. There is something to both claims: Lottery tickets are disproportionately bought by lower-income people, and in aggregate the players win back only a small percentage of the money spent on tickets. Overall, lotteries suck […]

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    When Does a Consciousness Test Not Test for Consciousness?

    A pigeon looks at its reflection in the mirror. It sees a blue dot on the reflection’s breast. It reaches down and pecks at the dot on its own breast. This is the classic behavior required for passing the “mirror test,” an influential experiment used to test for self-awareness in animals. Chimpanzees became the first […]

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    The Loneliest Genius

    Isaac Newton spurned social contact but also relied on it for his greatest work.

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    The Rhythm of the Tide

    When I heard data from an island had proven humans are still evolving, I had to visit.

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    The New You

    Introducing the Winter 2015 Nautilus Quarterly.

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    Why Are We So Obsessed With Mugshot Hotties?

    On June 18, a photo of a very handsome man was posted on the Web. It wasn’t intended to “break the Internet” Kardashian-style, but that’s pretty much what happened, if only on a slightly smaller scale. Within 48 hours, the portrait garnered 62,000 “Likes” on Facebook and became an online spectacle. Today the Like count […]