We look at how language elevates our spirits and lets them down. We delve into its origins in our animal ancestors and show that while language may distinguish us from our animals, it also links us to them. Language, we show, shapes our thoughts, but also frees them.
The Strange Physics of How Babies Talk
Different arrangements of words can be likened to microstates in statistical mechanics—the total set of ways a system’s constituent particles can be configured.Photo illustration by Khomich Yauheni / Shutterstock Like all new parents, I must sound like a kook when I babble along with my 9-month-old daughter. That’s okay: It delights her. I sometimes ask […]
Why Campaigns to Change Language Often Backfire
Opponents of the phrase “car accident” argue that language is intertwined with accountability.Photograph by Alan Poulson Photography / Shutterstock In the first decades of the 20th century, people around the world began succumbing to an entirely new cause of mortality. These new deaths, due to the dangers of the automobile, soon became accepted as a […]
How Freedom Divides
An expert on animal societies on what sets human societies apart.
Would You Survive a Merger with AI?
The cost of brain enhancement may be your identity.
Making a Future Among the Stars
Elon Musk has helped to advance self-driving electric cars and an implantable brain-machine interface, but when he greeted the crowd in Boca Chica, he said, gesturing at Starship, “This is the most inspiring thing I’ve ever seen.”Photograph by SpaceX In Boca Chica, Texas, presenting SpaceX’s latest prototype vehicle, Starship, Elon Musk remembered how, 11 years […]
Why Symbols Aren’t Forever
The removal of cultural emblems is not the erasure of history but part of it.
Language Is the Scaffold of the Mind
Once we acquire language, we can live without it.
Consciousness Doesn’t Depend on Language
We share the basic experience of life with all mammals.
How to Get Evangelicals to Care About Climate Change
It’s not that evangelicals don’t care about the environment. It’s that they care about people more.Photo Illustration by OFC Pictures / Shutterstock Last year was among the four warmest years ever recorded, 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. The three years prior were warmer (2016 the warmest). “The six warmest years on record […]