34 articles
  • nobel coin_HERO

    Is the Nobel Prize Good for Science?

    Yesterday, CNN Money published an article headlined, “Nobel prize winner tells Clinton: Tax fossil fuels.” The winner in question was Joseph Stiglitz, an economist at Columbia University, who received the prize 15 years ago. As you might expect, the Nobel is hardly his only accolade. He’s not only the World Bank’s former chief economist and […]
  • bird neanderthal_HERO

    How We Learned That Neanderthals Bird-Hunted in Winter

    A stocky male figure walks along a beach in what is now Gibraltar, on the southwestern tip of Europe, his pronounced brow shading his eyes. Pigeons watch over him on the cliffs overlooking the plain. Ducks float in the ocean off in the distance, and crows weave in and out of smoke from fires in […]
  • measure tape_HERO

    Why We Need Quantitative Sports History

    The early 19th century golfer Harry Vardon was the Tiger Woods of his day, and not just because he had marital difficulties. He even had a biography written about him, which recounted, among other things, how he handled losing his first child and living with tuberculosis. But Vardon’s life would be more useful to sports […]
  • banksy bird_HERO

    The Sacred Beauty of a Hermit Thrush Call

    On an early morning in June, New York City’s Prospect Park is peaceful and nearly empty: A few people sleeping on benches, a few more walking their dogs, and the birds chirping—exactly what Ben Mirin comes to hear, and they put on quite a show. Whistling, warbling, tweeting, and trilling, the avian residents of Prospect […]
  • micro-CT mouse neural lace_HERO

    Will This “Neural Lace” Brain Implant Help Us Compete with AI?

    Solar-powered self-driving cars, reusable space ships, Hyperloop transportation, a mission to colonize Mars: Elon Musk is hell-bent on turning these once-far-fetched fantasies into reality. But none of these technologies has made him as leery as artificial intelligence. Earlier this summer at Code Conference 2016, Musk stated publicly that given the current rate of A.I. advancement, […]
  • fiji rugby_HERO

    Rooting for the Favorite Is a Sign of Social Dominance

    Over the first week of the Rio Olympics, an ancient narrative played out in the men’s rugby sevens tournament. Rising through a field of 12, the Fiji national team dispatched powerhouses New Zealand and Great Britain on its way to a gold medal, the first of any kind for the small South Pacific nation. Having […]

  • manuel gold_HERO

    How Stereotypes Slow Athletes Down

    When Simone Manuel received the gold for the women’s 100-meter freestyle swim at the Rio Olympics in early August, the win represented more than just the culmination of Manuel’s many years of training and a victory for her country. It was a triumph over long-held racist stereotypes that black people are poor swimmers. Manuel was […]

  • proxima centauri_HERO

    Our Nearest Star Has a Planet, and These Are the Ways It Could Be Habitable

    A couple years ago, I was part of the team that discovered the first Earth-sized planet, Kepler-186f, rotating comfortably in its star’s “habitable zone,” where water can be liquid. Its sun, Kepler 186, is faint and far away from us—and a little colder than we’d like if we were to settle there—but it does have […]

  • Maradona god_HERO

    The Uncanny Symbiosis of Modern Religion and Sports

    There is a church in Argentina called Iglesia Maradona. In this church, God is football—soccer—and its prophet is the renowned player Diego Armando Maradona. Founded in 1998, the year after the star’s retirement, the Church of Iglesia Maradona now has some 120,000 members worldwide, who bear its insignia D10S—a portmanteau of Dios, the Spanish word […]

  • Frey_HERO_2

    The Unexpected Humanity of Robot Soccer

    Robots competing in open, physical environments produce familiar behaviors.

  • NewSports-HERO

    Four Ball Games You’ve Never Heard Of

    From bouncy castle soccer to foot golf, we are still inventing new sports.

  • exercise addict_HERO

    When Exercise Becomes Too Much of a Good Thing

    In a world where only 1 in 5 American adults meet the minimum daily exercise requirements, exercise addiction can seem like the opposite of a problem. Don’t let that fool you, says Marilyn Freimuth, a clinical psychologist at Fielding Graduate University, in Santa Barbara. “Exercise addiction can completely take over someone’s life. They’re getting injured, […]
  • doping olympics_HERO

    Beyond What’s Possible: The State of the Art of Athletic Doping

    Ever since ancient Greek Olympians downed exotic meats, “magic” potions, and animal hearts and testicles, athletes have tried to improve their performances by consuming special substances. Such behavior wasn’t considered cheating back in ancient times, and this attitude continued into the modern revival of the games. When a runner named Thomas Hicks famously won the 1904 […]
  • unrepeated science_HERO

    Why We Shouldn’t Accept Unrepeated Science—Our Author Responds to His Critics

    Last month a long thread evolved on Hacker News, a popular discussion forum, in response to my Nautilus article, “We Should Not Accept Scientific Results That Have Not Been Repeated.” Much to my delight, it generated a rich conversation involving scientists and non-scientists alike. That’s fitting, since our inability to independently replicate our results, I […]
  • Article Recirculation Lead Image

    Why the Best Athletes All Have Their Own #PhelpsFace

    On the second day of the Rio Olympics, American swimmer Michael Phelps won his 19th gold medal (he would go on to win four more), becoming the world’s most decorated Olympic athlete. The next day, Phelps revealed that he also has what may be the world’s best game face. While waiting for a semifinal race, […]
  • Guttman_HERO-1

    Why Sports Die

    Sports don’t survive their cultures of origin if they resist modern measurement.