Computers Beat Humans at Poker. Next Up: Everything Else?
Over the span of 20 days early this year, artificial intelligence encountered a major test of how well it can tackle problems in the real world. A program called Libratus took on four of the best poker players in the country, at a tournament at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They were playing […]
How Classical Cryptography Will Survive Quantum Computers
Quantum Lab: Scientists are fabricating quantum photonic circuits—consisting of waveguides and other elements—to manipulate single photons for future quantum communications and processing.Oak Ridge National Laboratory / Flickr Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, certainly raised the profile of quantum computing a few notches last year, when he gamely—if vaguely1—described it for a press conference. But […]
How Should Society Judge a Defendant with a Brain Tumor?
After a visit from one of his patients in March, 1966, the psychiatrist Maurice Heatly noted, “This massive, muscular youth seemed to be oozing with hostility as he initiated the hour with the statement that something was happening to him and he didn’t seem to be himself.” That patient was Charles Whitman, a 25-year-old former […]
Why We Love to Anthropomorphize Physics
Family Physics” may be the best episode of Public Radio’s long running show, This American Life. Its premise was simple. Import key concepts from the realms of quantum mechanics and cosmology and use them to illuminate the everyday world of parents, kids, and their interactions. Introducing the show, however, host Ira Glass was quick to […]
This Could Be a Way to Get the Benefits of Meditation Without Meditating
It can seem like a Catch-22 is baked into the practice of meditation. It’s meant, among other things, to foster patience—but meditation also seems to require considerable patience to work. Or at least “mindfulness meditation” does. (There are many ways to meditate; the practice isn’t monolithic.) When I began to toy with it several years […]
Why These Researchers Are Drawn to the World’s Edge
The joy and toll of doing remote science.
5 Languages That Could Change the Way You See the World
I went to my neighbor’s house for something to eat yesterday. Think about this sentence. It’s pretty simple—English speakers would know precisely what it means. But what does it actually tell you—or, more to the point, what does it not tell you? It doesn’t specify facts like the subject’s gender or the neighbor’s, or what […]
New Evidence for the Strange Idea that the Universe Is a Hologram
One of the great mysteries of modern cosmology is how our universe can be so thermally uniform—the vast cosmos is filled with the lingering heat of the Big Bang. Over time, it has cooled to a few degrees above absolute zero, but it can still be seen in the faint glow of microwave radiation, known […]
What If Only Females Could See Color?
Have you ever wondered how your life might be different if you could see beyond the visible light spectrum—into ultraviolet or infrared? For one thing, you might be immune, or less susceptible, to implicit racial bias. Inna Vishik, an applied physicist at U.C. Davis, says if you weren’t limited to the typical range of colors […]
Why the Dark Side of the Force Had to Be Dark
The innate meanings of color and intensity.