29 articles
  • twin tower beams

    This Is Why Americans Are Irrationally Anxious About Terrorism

    Many of terrorism’s most profound consequences are felt from a distance.
  • Titan Saturn System Mission hero

    Here’s What We’ll Do in Space by 2116

    In a mere 60 years, we of Earth have gone from launching our first spacecraft, to exploring every planet and major moon in our solar system, to establishing an international, long-lived fleet of robotic spacecraft at the Moon and Mars. What will we do in the next 100 years? With such rapid expansion of capability, […]
  • infinite clock

    Why Our Universe Doesn’t Have a Birthday

     The main elements of the Big Bang model are “easily listed,” says Jim Peebles, the Albert Einstein Professor Emeritus of Science at Princeton. The model holds that the large-scale structure of the cosmos is expanding faster and faster and that, on average, the universe looks close to the same no matter where you look. The […]
  • solitary confinement

    Why the Teenage Brain Isn’t Built for Solitary Confinement

    Johnny Perez was 16-years old when he was arrested for gun possession and admitted to Riker’s Island. Within months, he did his first round of solitary confinement: 60 days in a 60 square-foot cell. The punishment was for fighting to use the telephone.Between the pushups, the jumping jacks, and the officers taunting him, the narrative […]
  • pythagoreans

    How a Mathematical Superstition Stultified Algebra for Over a Thousand Years

    Like most people, my high-school training in mathematics involved next-to-no history, barely touching on the names of a few mathematicians, like Pythagoras, and their theorems. I graduated only vaguely aware that geometry came from ancient Greece and algebra came from the Babylonians.A decade later, as a graduate researcher of chemical engineering at the University of […]
  • clock on tracks

    How Where You Are or What You’re Doing Alters Your Sense of Time

    maradon 333/Shutterstock How we think of time can lead to some odd results. For example, imagine your co-worker says next Wednesday’s meeting has been moved forward two days. When is the meeting going to be held? Your response can be predicted by how you see your relationship to time. If you see time flowing toward […]

  • Steele_HERO-2

    The Man Who Would Tame Cancer

    Patrick Soon-Shiong is opening a new front in the war on the deadly disease.

  • water bucket

    This Is Why Understanding Space Is So Hard

     If all the matter in the universe suddenly disappeared, would space still exist? Isaac Newton thought so. Space, he imagined, was something like Star Trek’s holodeck, a 3-dimensional virtual-reality grid onto which simulated people and places and things are projected. As Newton put it in the early pages of his Principia: “Absolute space, of its […]

  • Curry_HERO-3

    Men Are Better At Maps Until Women Take This Course

    A bit of education can erase a definitive cognitive gap between men and women.

  • Skaggs_HERO_anim

    The Woman Who Got Lost at Home

    A developmental disorder promises a new window onto the brain’s secrets.

  • Neilson-HERO-1

    How to Survive Solitary Confinement

    An ex-convict on how to set your mind free.

  • Hunt_HERO-2

    These Astronomical Glass Plates Made History

    Eight foundational images from the archives of the Carnegie Observatories.
  • personal space2

    Personal Space Is a Fear Response

    Rommel Canlas/Shutterstock Edward Hall, an American anthropologist, first defined “personal space” in the mid-1900s, when he noticed that its size varied widely from culture to culture: Southern Europeans and Latin Americans, for example, were “closer talkers”, while Northern Europeans and North Americans were more stand-offish. Personal space, Hall surmised, was a form of social communication, […]
  • waterdrop map

    These Gorgeous Water Maps Are Helping Identify Fake Scotch and Murder Victims

     One of the criteria that make a Scotch a Scotch is that it’s made with Scottish water. That means that a clever connoisseur should be able to tell whether her drink is authentic by tracing the source of its H2O molecules. But how? After it’s collected and filtered of impurities, water is water, right? Nautilus […]
  • cmb

    Is the Cosmic Microwave Background as Beautiful as Any Work of Art?

    The usual space vista is of distant tumbling galaxies, or towering clouds of dust. The Hubble Ultra Deep Field, for instance, is a photograph of a patch of blackness representing just one 24-millionth of the whole sky. Over 11 days, the telescope soaked in whatever light came in, and the result was astonishing: Every point […]
  • star wars cropped poster

    Yoda Is Dead but Star Wars’ Dubious Lessons Live On

    We didn’t say “break the Internet” back in 1999, but if we did we could certainly say that science-fiction author David Brin broke the Internet when he wrote in Salon that “Stars Wars belongs to our dark past. A long, tyrannical epoch of fear, illogic, despotism and demagoguery that our ancestors struggled desperately to overcome, […]