• Patterns

    There is something beguiling about the possibility that the letters making up our DNA are also used somewhere far away. On the other hand, the lack of any such message may make the stronger point, telling us that the meaning we’re looking for is scattered across a much broader canvas, and ours to discover.    

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    Here’s How We’ll Know an AI Is Conscious

    Zombies are supposed to be capable of asking any question about the nature of experience. It’s worth wondering, though, how a person or machine devoid of experience could reflect on experience it doesn’t have.Photograph by Ars Electronica / Flickr The Australian philosopher David Chalmers famously asked whether “philosophical zombies” are conceivable—people who behave like you […]

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    The Math That Takes Newton Into the Quantum World

    How a math professor learned to stop worrying and love algebraic geometry.

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    How Our Universe Could Emerge as a Hologram

    Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog. The fabric of space and time is widely believed by physicists to be emergent, stitched out of quantum threads according to an unknown pattern. And for 22 years, they’ve had a toy model of how emergent space-time can work: a theoretical “universe in a bottle,” as its discoverer, Juan Maldacena, has described it. The […]

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    How the Universe Remembers Information

    A “memory matrix” might solve Stephen Hawking’s black-hole paradox.

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    The Case for Being Skeptical of Moral Outrage

    If, as the research shows, our moral outrage is highly sensitive to actions but not consequences, we might want to treat feelings of moral outrage—whether others’ or our own—skeptically. Photograph by Vjacheslav_Kozyrev / Flickr The episode last month at the Lincoln Memorial, involving the boys from Covington Catholic High School, and a Native American man, […]

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    What Dark Matter Needs Are New Kinds of Experiments

    After 30 years and no results, it’s time to support more entrepreneurial physicists.

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    Watch and See: The Medium Really Is the Message

    How communication technologies shaped the arts and sciences.

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    Why We Stink at Tackling Climate Change

    Global threats result from human culture outrunning human biology.

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    Why We Should Think Twice About Colonizing Space

    There are lots of reasons why colonizing space seems compelling. The popular astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson argues that it would stimulate the economy and inspire the next generation of scientists. Elon Musk, who founded SpaceX, argues that “there is a strong humanitarian argument for making life multiplanetary…to safeguard the existence of humanity in the event […]