38 articles
  • New York Sun life on Moon lithograph

    Fake News Is an Old Problem

    In a presidential campaign that seemed to break rules of political decorum daily, one of the more alarming developments was the rise of a new kind of media: fake news. “Obama FURIOUS After Judge Jeanine Calls Him A Terrorist On Live TV!!!” proclaimed, a fake-news site run by young people in Macedonia. “STOP HER […]
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    How Will Our Religions Handle the Discovery of Alien Life?

    What would your priest, rabbi, or imam say if we discovered alien life?For the religious, knowing that life on Earth is not unique may demand radical new ways of thinking about ourselves: How special and sacred are we? Is Earth a privileged place? Do we have an obligation to care for beings on other planets? […]
  • mensa logo_HERO

    How a Genius Is Different from a Really Smart Person

    The most intelligent two percent of people in the world. These are the people who qualify for membership in Mensa, an exclusive international society open only to people who score at or above the 98th percentile on an IQ or other standardized intelligence test. Mensa’s mission remains the same as when it was founded in […]
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    A New Threat to Oceans: Deep-Sea Mining for Precious Metals

    Around 500 miles southeast of the bright turquoise waters at Honolulu Harbor, and two and a half miles down to the dark ocean floor, a massive carpet of potato-sized rocks stretches thousands of miles on the seabed. These rocks, called polymetallic, or manganese, nodules, are made up of manganese, nickel, copper, and cobalt. The nodules’ […]
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    The True Nature of an Internet Troll

    Although the phrase “to troll” only recently entered the mainstream lexicon—partially thanks to the rise in popularity of online discussion forums like 4chan and Reddit, as well as massive multiplayer online games—trolling dates back to chatrooms in the ‘80s. Back then, “trolls” referred to online instigators of disparaging and, essentially, pointless arguments, or “flamewars.” Nowadays, […]
  • poaching tusks_HERO

    Is Poaching Causing Elephants to Evolve Without Tusks?

    Spotting evolution can be trickier than you might think. Take African elephants. Usually they boast massively overgrown (and ever-growing) teeth—their tusks. For male elephants, these are weapons in sexual competition, but all elephants also use their tusks to scrape bark off trees, uncover roots, and dig for water during dry spells. Humans have their own […]

  • Mullen_FSR_LEAD-Aliens

    We’re Still Waiting for Hollywood to Depict a Plausible Alien Ecosystem

    You might expect scientists to heap scorn on Hollywood’s depiction of aliens, but they’re generally forgiving. Dirk Schulze-Makuch, an astrobiologist at the Technical University of Berlin, remarks that most science-fiction aliens are either riffs off the weird life we see in Earth’s deep ocean, such as the squid-like creatures of Arrival, or versions of now-extinct […]

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    Spark of Science: Lisa Becking

    A marine biologist talks about the wonders of hidden lakes.

  • elections polls_HERO

    Why Presidential Elections Aren’t Really About the Candidates

    Political pundits have had some explaining to do since the Presidential election. FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver and other analysts have come under fire for assigning a high likelihood to Hillary Clinton’s victory—their predictions ranged from a 70 percent to 99 percent chance of her winning the Electoral College. Clinton’s loss prompted people to question the trustworthiness […]

  • Article Image

    Why Abstract Art Stirs Creativity in Our Brains

    Are art and science of distinctly different cultures? The former often seems fixated on human experience, the latter on physical processes. In his most recent book, Reductionism in Art and Brain Science: Bridging the Two Cultures, published this year, the Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel argues that such a separation no longer exists. The best-known […]

  • what is knowledge_HERO

    This Simple Philosophical Puzzle Shows How Difficult It Is to Know Something

    If knowledge isn’t justified true belief, what is it?

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    The World’s Most Inspirational Iceberg Isn’t What It Seems

    The professional photographer who created a popular poster image takes it apart.
  • Marsa_HERO

    Sick for Attention

    Meet five Munchausen patients who went to desperate lengths to fake illness.
  • woman in the mirror

    What It Means to Live in a Holographic Cosmos

    When you look in the mirror, the image you see looks a lot like you—not exactly the same, because when you raise your right hand, your mirror-self raises its left. What’s more, the mirror image is merely an assemblage of reflected light, without a physical body behind it. Despite these differences, you can see an […]
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    Catch Us If You Can

    We like impostor stories because we’re afraid we’re impostors ourselves.
  • city animals_HERO

    City Living Makes Animals Dishonest

    Honesty is the basis of any good relationship. This is as true for animals as it is for humans. When a peahen is looking for a mate, she sees a peacock’s tail as an honest signal of his quality. “Look at me!” says her suitor, wiggling his ridiculous display from side to side, “I can […]