35 articles
  • eiffel earthquake_HERO

    7 Ways Humans Have Tried to Predict Earthquakes

    Humans have been trying to predict earthquakes at least since first-century China, when the device of choice was a vessel fitted with metal dragons facing each compass direction. If the ground shook somewhere in the region, the metal ball in the dragon’s mouth would drop out, roughly indicating the direction of the earthquake. Our methods […]
  • tinnitus_HERO

    50 Million Tinnitus Sufferers Just Got Some Bad News and Some Good News

    Fifteen years ago, almost as soon as she arrived in the Cleveland suburbs, her hometown, a high-pitched ringing disturbed Katie Hellmuth Martin’s sense of peace. She was looking forward to settling into the gentle sounds of summer she’d grown up with: birdcalls during the day, the relaxing cadence of crickets at night. Instead, her respite […]
  • Article Recirculation Lead Image

    Aristotle at the Gigafactory: Why Physics Is a Philosophy

    On Friday, in Storey County, Nevada, a woman at Tesla’s Gigafactory inauguration hollered, “Beam me up, Elon!” Elon Musk, the electric car company’s chief executive officer, had just taken the stage along with J.B. Straubel, Tesla’s chief technical officer. “Okay, we’re working on that one,” Musk gamely replied before saying: “Alright—welcome everyone to the Gigafactory […]
  • wood dice_HERO

    Politicians Need to Understand This Computer Science Concept Better

    I have an idea that would keep 100 percent of foreign-born terrorists out of the United States. Not only that, it’s far simpler than any presidential candidate’s proposals. All we have to do is this: Never let anybody in. Most of us find this idea ludicrous, of course, and rightly so. Keeping out terrorists is […]
  • angry ape_HERO

    Angry Apes “Flick” Each Other Off. Is That Where We Got Our Gesture?

    One evening last spring, I sat down at the American Museum of Natural History’s 85th annual James Arthur lecture, in New York, on the evolution of the brain. This year’s speaker was Richard Byrne, who studies the evolution of cognitive and social behavior, particularly gestural communication in the great apes, at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews. He […]
  • replicate science_HERO

    We Should Not Accept Scientific Results That Have Not Been Repeated

    A few years ago, I became aware of serious problem in science: the irreproducibility crisis. A group of researchers at Amgen, an American pharmaceutical company, attempted to replicate 53 landmark cancer discoveries in close collaboration with the authors. Many of these papers were published in high-impact journals and came from prestigious academic institutions. To the […]

  • piano cosmos_HERO

    DJs Are Dropping Beats From Deep Space

    Interpreting something from the universe awakens a unique inspiration and curiosity,” says the Swiss electronic musician Lucien Nicolet, who goes by Luciano. He wasn’t waxing mystical. That awakening lead to ALMA Sounds, his latest album, released this month, which features audio derived from one of the world’s biggest astronomy telescopes, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array […]

  • coffee pringles_HERO

    How Sound Can Make Food Taste Better

    When you consider the earthy aroma of a cup of cappuccino or the salty tang of a potato chip, you may overlook the sounds they make as you savor them. The glug-glug of coffee as it’s poured into your mug, the crackle of the chip on your teeth, even any music playing in the background—these […]

  • Article Image

    New York City Battles on Against Dutch Elm Disease

    To many people in New York City, a beautiful summer day is all about the trees. To be more specific, the American elm trees in the Central Park Mall, which form a promenade through the heart of the park. “Everybody’s always impressed by the wonderful cathedral-like ceiling of the Mall, especially if they’re new to […]

  • ball lightning_HERO

    A New Explanation for One of the Strangest Occurrences in Nature: Ball Lightning

    Every so often, given the proper conditions, a small and roughly spherical piece of the atmosphere around us will briefly catch fire. As they are best viewed late into the night and have no obvious natural explanation, it’s perhaps no wonder they’ve inspired a rich mythology. Names for balls of fire include ignis fatuus, will-o’-the-wisp, […]

  • 12 notes_HERO

    This Is What Musical Notes Actually Look Like

    A few months ago, I sat poolside with friends in Palm Springs. Amid the quiet desert sublime, we reminisced about all the live music we’ve experienced over the years, just about every big and small act since the mid-80s: Prince, David Bowie, Guns ‘n Roses, Bruce Springsteen, and the Yeah Yeahs Yeahs among the them. […]