38 articles
  • clinton trump_HERO

    How Aphasic Patients Understood the Presidential Debate

    In The President’s Speech, a 1985 essay by the late neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks, he observes a group of people with aphasia, a language disorder, as they laugh uproariously at the television. The cause of their amusement is an unnamed actor-turned United States president, presumably Ronald Reagan, addressing his audience: “There he was, the […]
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    Social Learning in Nature Is Ubiquitous

    In 1898, American psychologist Edward Thorndike published a seminal dissertation on animal intelligence. Thorndike, then at Columbia University, had spent hours experimenting with cats and special contraptions of his own design: puzzle boxes, confined spaces the cats could only escape by, for example, pawing at levers in order to trigger a release mechanism. Once out, […]
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    Why Blind People Are Better at Math

    Bernard Morin developed glaucoma at an early age and was blind by the time he was six years old. Despite his inability to see, Morin went on to become a master topologist—a mathematician who studies the intrinsic properties of geometric forms in space—and earned renown for his visualization of an inside-out sphere. For sighted people, […]
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    An “Infinitely Rich” Mathematician Turns 100

    Richard Guy achieved his status as a mathematical titan by working away as a self-described amateur, though he pushes the boundaries of that definition.
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    5 Paradoxical Time Travel Stories

    Can you imagine a time before we dreamed about time travel? The idea of altering an unpleasant future disclosed by an oracle, and the associated paradoxes of Fate, have been with us for millennia; but before H.G. Wells’ The Time Traveller, in 1895, the concept of time travel was wispy and of very little cultural […]
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    Today Is “Galactic Tick Day”!

    Nearly a quarter of Americans still believe in Ptolemy’s idea that the sun goes around Earth. Yet, every year, these people presumably cheer on December 31 to mark the New Year, another successful trip of Earth around the sun. It’s likely not hypocrisy, just ignorance. But if much of the general public still doesn’t get […]

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    These Medical Terms Still Bear the Mark of the Third Reich

    Dr. Hans Reiter achieved the one thing most likely to keep a physician’s name in textbooks forever: He got an illness named after him. While working as a medic in the German army in World War I, he once treated a case of simultaneous inflammation in the joints, eyes, and urethra. This became known as […]

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    Can Dogs Help Us Understand the Link Between Intelligence and Health?

    If you’re a dog lover, you may have heard of Chaser, the border collie who has been called a “genius” and the “smartest dog in the world.” Retired psychology professor John Pilley, Chaser’s owner and co-author of a recent book about her, says he was able to teach her 1,000 words, the largest “vocabulary” of […]

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    Lawrence Krauss Versus Freeman Dyson on Gravitons

    Yesterday, in the New York Review of Books, Freeman Dyson analyzed a trio of recent books on humanity’s future in the larger cosmos. They were How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Space Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight; Beyond Earth: Our Path to a New Home in the Planets; […]

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    Why Are People Losing the Blissful Tingles of ASMR?

    In more ways than one, the tingles seem to be fading. Just a few years ago, autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), a puzzling and blissful sensation, became the sudden focal point for a sizable Internet community. Practitioners liken it to a current of electricity running down the scalp and spine. Audiences marveled at online videos, […]

  • science writing_HERO

    The Problem With Science Writing

    Want to hear a seamy insider secret from the science communication industry? The border between journalism and public relations has more turnstiles than Grand Central. Professionals move with relative ease, and little stigma, between newspapers, websites, and magazines and what would otherwise be called propaganda centers—university communication departments, government agencies, corporate PR arms, military research […]

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    Alzheimer’s Early Tell

    The language of authors who suffered from dementia has a story for the rest of us.
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    The Modern Mind May Be 100,000 Years Old

    New fossil evidence shows sophisticated thought began earlier than we thought.
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    A Nonlinear History of Time Travel

    Births, deaths, and other time travel paradoxes.
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    Do Dolphins Have Conversations? We Still Can’t Say

    Sure, dolphins use sonar, whiz through the ocean at incredible speeds, and battle sharks. But can they chat? Last week, a study published in Russia’s St. Petersburg Polytechnical University Journal: Physics and Mathematics claimed to have recorded two dolphins doing just that. Two Black Sea bottlenose dolphins, named Yasha and Yana, exchanged a series of vocal […]
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    The Fundamental Limits of Machine Learning

    A few months ago, my aunt sent her colleagues an email with the subject, “Math Problem! What is the answer?” It contained a deceptively simple puzzle:She thought her solution was obvious. Her colleagues, though, were sure their solution was correct—and the two didn’t match. Was the problem with one of their answers, or with the […]