• 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, […]

  • blind math_HERO

    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, […]

  • Guy polyhedra_HERO

    An “Infinitely Rich” Mathematician Turns 100

    At the Hotel Parco dei Principi in Rome, in September of 1973, the Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős approached his friend Richard Guy with a request. He said, “Guy, veel you have a coffee?” It cost a dollar, a small fortune to a professor of mathematics at the hinterland University of Calgary who was not much […]

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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 […]

  • Nazi operating room

    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 […]

  • dog smarts_HERO

    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 […]