Why Beauty Is Not Universal
We’re all human—so despite the vagaries of cultural context, might there exist a universal beauty that overrides the where and when? Might there be unchanging features of human nature that condition our creative choices, a timeless melody that guides the improvisations of the everyday? There has been a perpetual quest for such universals, because of […]
This Will Help You Grasp the Sizes of Things in the Universe
Caleb Scharf wants to take you on an epic tour. His latest book, The Zoomable Universe, starts from the ends of the observable universe, exploring its biggest structures, like groups of galaxies, and goes all the way down to the Planck length—less than a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a meter. […]
Make the Cosmic Perspective Your Next Coping Mechanism
Contemplating cosmic history isn’t alienating; it’s affirming.Pexels I am often asked how I cope with the vast and seemingly incomprehensible abyss beyond Earth. As with modern politics, it’s thought that contemplating the cold, indifferent, cosmos—as I do for a living—can make us feel small, powerless, and unimportant: specks of dust flickering in the void for […]
7 Major Experiments That Still Haven’t Found What They’re Looking For
Being an experimental scientist can sometimes seem like a thankless task. You may be used to reading headlines about experiments that end up making great discoveries, but less is heard about the (often heroic) efforts of experimentalists that have yet to detect or observe what they set out to. Some of these efforts have spanned […]
Why Einstein Just Got Ranked as History’s Greatest Hero
Two predictions of Albert Einstein’s—one scientific, one sentimental—have recently been confirmed. The first came early in 2016: the existence of gravitational waves. The second came late last month: the handsome price of a pair of notes Einstein wrote, in place of a tip, to a bellboy in 1922, while on a lecturing tour in […]
How to Teach Science with Sugar and Cream
High school teachers are bringing ice cream into the lab.
Is There Beer in Space?
How the emptiness of the void got filled.
Physics Has Demoted Mass
Modern physics has taught us that mass is not an intrinsic property.
The philosophers knew it first. “Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together,” wrote Thomas Carlyle in 1831. Since then, science has redefined the word. When we rest, our brain’s default mode network lights up. Exposure to the broken and absurd primes our learning faculties. Voiceless animals show rich, culture-like behavior. Speech […]
Ideology Is the Original Augmented Reality
How we fill gaps in our everyday experiences.