34 articles
  • open mind lucky_HERO

    The Key to Good Luck Is an Open Mind

    Really lucky people may have a specific set of skills that bring chance opportunities their way.
  • goth chicken ayam cemeni hero

    Inside the Goth Chicken: Black Bones, Black Meat, and a Black Heart

    In the historical novel The Black Tulip, written by Alexandre Dumas, an honest and decent Dutch tulip fancier is nearly brought to ruin by his quest to breed a purely black flower. More precisely, his misadventure is due to the dastardly schemes of his neighbor, who, frantic with spite and jealousy over the plants, frames […]
  • everything theory_HERO

    Why Theories of Everything Are Ill-Conceived

    The police don’t often sympathize with speeding drivers, but if you’re a quantum gravity physicist who was distracted by a grand epiphany while driving at night, you might have a better chance. “The Italian policeman asked me politely if I was crazy to drive at that speed,” writes the Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli in his […]
  • face cloud_HERO

    Why We Hear Voices in Random Noise

    You may have once seen a giant face in the clouds. Perhaps it took you aback, amused you, or maybe it prompted an “uncanny valley” kind of sensation—realness, but with a lingering unease.In any case, it’s not a modern phenomenon. It’s thought that a similar experience was shared by an early hominid approximately 3 million […]
  • Article Recirculation Lead Image

    Why Pascal’s Wager Is Eminently Modern

    Fingers Crossed: Pascal reasoned that life is a sort of “game,” and that our faith in God, or lack-there-of, is our wager as to the ultimate nature of reality.Photograph by Albert / Flickr On the evening of November 23rd, 1654, the brilliant polymath Blaise Pascal was thrown from his horse-drawn carriage, the creatures having been […]
  • sailing superstition_HERO

    Even Scientists Act Superstitious at Sea

    To wish someone “good luck” is taboo aboard a ship. So are transporting bananas and whistling. But sighting a pod of dolphins can invite good fortune, I discovered last November, as I sailed 3,000 miles from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Wearing a gold hoop earring, I learned from one of my crewmates, who had one […]

  • Falk_HERO

    The Multiple Multiverses May Be One and the Same

    If multiverses seem weird, it’s because we need to revamp our notions of time and space.

  • Tycho_HERO

    Why Renaissance Astronomer Tycho Brahe Is Still a Star

    Something is rotten in Denmark, but not to worry, it’s just the remains of astronomer Tycho Brahe.Despite being dead for over 400 years, this Renaissance astronomer continues to captivate scientists, historians, and the public. Part of his fame is due to his scientific credentials. Brahe is the father of modern observational astronomy, known for accurately […]

  • moral luck_HERO

    How Considering False Histories Changes Our Moral Judgments

    Moral luck isn’t just a philosopher’s toy concept. It’s reflected in our legal system. Suppose that you and your roommate, Riley, get equally drunk and both drive home separately on similar routes. Let’s say both of you are equally skilled drivers but also equally impaired, and just by chance, you kill somebody crossing the street […]

  • green music_HERO

    Plants Have an “Ear” for Music

    While he was a soldier stationed in a Korean demilitarized zone in the 1960s, the late Dan Carlson, Sr. was horrified when he saw a mother intentionally cripple her child to receive food subsidies. Moved by that experience, he enrolled after returning home at the University of Minnesota under his GI Bill, and buried his […]

  • Steinsaltz-HERO-F

    How to Build a Probability Microscope

    The surprising mathematics of the extremely rare.

  • Wald_HERO

    How to Be Lucky

    It pays to imagine your life is on a winning streak.
  • bird mobbing_HERO

    Why Birds Love Mobs

    When I tell Katie Sieving, an avian wildlife ecologist at the University of Florida, that it’s probably a stretch to call “mobbing” an act of heroism, she laughs. Mobbing, as the term suggests, involves a mob: It’s when a group of animals band together to harass and drive out a common predator—a behavior already well-known […]
  • dome over manhattan_HERO

    The Secret of Buckminister Fuller’s World-Changing Ideas Was Serendipity

    In his 2016 book, You Belong to the Universe, Jonathon Keats sets out to release Buckminister Fuller from “the zany sci-fi designs that made him notorious, and rescue him from the groupies who have impounded him as a cultish prophet.”Keats, a writer and artist who whips up his own world-changing ideas through trickster gallery and […]
  • prague clock_HERO

    The Cosmos’ Fine-Tuning Does Not Imply a Fine-Tuner

    Bad ideas die hard, and then sometimes they come back to life. One such bad idea is the so-called design argument that goes something like this: “Behold the human eye: It is perfectly adapted to seeing the things we need to see, like predators or potential mates. It looks almost like the eye was designed […]
  • Adams_HERO

    The Not-So-Fine Tuning of the Universe

    There’s more than one way to build a universe suitable for life.