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    Mining in Space Could Lead to Conflicts on Earth

    Platinum-group metals in space may serve the same role as oil has on Earth, threatening to extend geopolitical struggles into astropolitical ones, something Trump is keen on preparing for. Yesterday he said he’s seriously weighing the idea of a “Space Force” military branch.Illustration by Maciej Frolow / Getty Images Space mining is no longer science […]

  • Connections

    Connection has an exponential, multiplicative power to create complexity. It’s where the meat of the hardest problems—like consciousness—lies. It can also make problems harder than they first seem to be.   

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    Civilization Is Built on Code

    Code is at once a force, or a means, of liberation and constraint.Photograph by Donnie Ray Jones / Flickr How did we humans manage to build a global civilization on the cusp of colonizing other planets? It seems like such an unlikely outcome. After all, we were prone to cycles of war and famine for millennia, […]

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    This Famous Aging Researcher Doesn’t Want Us to Live Forever

    In the Netflix anime series Knights of Sidonia, humankind is marooned in a spaceship 500,000-strong, refugees constantly on the run from shapeshifting aliens who destroyed Earth over 1,000 years ago. Both the patriarchy and poverty have been smashed. Advances in genetic engineering have allowed androgynous individuals to proliferate and asexual reproduction to become commonplace. Everybody […]

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    You’re a Bad Judge of How Good-looking You Are

    Why are we such bad judges of how others see us? Epley’s answer is that other people are novices about us, while we’re experts.“The Green Mirror” (1911) by Guy Rose / Wikicommons There’s the full-body bedroom mirror, the bathroom mirror, and the trusty living-room mirror, the one closest to the front door—the last one I […]

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    Why Water Is Weird

    One day, frustrated after many hours of meditation and practice, Bruce Lee, still a teenager, went sailing. His martial arts teacher, Yip Man, had been instructing Lee in the art of detachment, a key facet of gung fu. Lee couldn’t let go. “On the sea I thought of all my past training and got mad […]

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    Why Some Sports Fans Have More Fun

    How mirror neurons affect the experience of fandom.

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    Another Side of Feynman

    Nine letters by Freeman Dyson portray his relationship with the Nobel Laureate.

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    What Is It Like to Be a Dolphin?

    Maybe dolphins are more “tuned in” with the world around them, by necessity: a holistic blend of the physical, sensory, and cognitive, all seamless enough to remember to go up for air. Photograph by Matthew Baya / Flickr Humans have come to fetishize dolphins: their smiles, their penchant for heavy petting, and they imbue their […]

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    The Case for More Pox Research

    The horsepox virus could be the basis of an improved smallpox vaccine, more effective and with fewer side effects than the currently available vaccines.Colored etching, “Edward Jenner vaccinating patients in the Smallpox and Inoculation Hospital at St. Pancras: the patients develop features of cows,” by James Gillray / Wikicommons Last year, when news broke that […]