23 articles
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    To Persuade Someone, Look Emotional

    Asked at the start of the final 1988 presidential debate whether he would support the death penalty if his wife were raped and murdered, Michael Dukakis, a lifelong opponent of capital punishment, quickly and coolly said no. It was a surprising, deeply personal, and arguably inappropriate question, but in demonstrating an unwavering commitment to his […]
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    Braces Have Made Snoring a Modern Health Problem

    Over the ages our teeth and our tongue have become ever more crowded by the shrinking of the human jaw. Not only is this an aesthetic disaster, but it compromises our breathing, which in turn can disrupt sleep. And there, our problems really begin.Photograph by Lisa S. / Shutterstock The apotheosis of my five-year orthodontic […]
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    The Psychological Challenges of Just Getting to Mars

    Though space may be the quintessential I.C.E. environment, Musk appears to be aiming to make trips to Mars—aspirationally scheduled to commence in 2024—as far away from I.C.E.-y as possible.Photograph by NASA Life outside Earth has its own Hobbesian description: isolated, confined, and extreme—or I.C.E. “Space is the quintessential ICE environment,” according to a new paper, […]
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    How to Talk About Vaccines on Television

    What one scientist has learned from years of media appearances.
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    Does Theranos Mark the Peak of the Silicon Valley Bubble?

    John Carreyrou talks to Nautilus about the lessons of a $1 billion fraud.
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    How Brain Waves Surf Sound Waves to Process Speech

    Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog.When he talks about where his fields of neuroscience and neuropsychology have taken a wrong turn, David Poeppel of New York University doesn’t mince words. “There’s an orgy of data but very little understanding,” he said to a packed room at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in […]

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    The Case Against Geniuses

    Once you’re called a “genius,” what’s left? Super genius? No, getting called a “genius” is the final accolade, the last laudatory label for anyone. At least that’s how several members of Mensa, an organization of those who’ve scored in the 98th percentile on an IQ test, see it. “I don’t look at myself as a […]

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    Are Suicide Bombings Really Driven by Ideology?

    The surprising anthropology of group identity.

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    Why New Antibiotics Are So Hard to Find

    A dispatch from the front lines of the war against antibiotic resistance.

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    Are Healthcare Metrics Hurting Healthcare?

    Performance metrics are supposed to financially incentivize hospitals to improve the healthcare system. And this is exactly where the trouble starts. The list of misapplied performance metrics could go on and on.Photograph by Luis Molinero / Shutterstock In 1975, the British economist Charles Goodhart pointed out that when a measure becomes a target, it ceases […]

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    The Popular Creation Story of Astronomy Is Wrong

    The old tale about science versus the church is wide of the mark.

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    How NASA’s Mission to Pluto Was Nearly Lost

    The inside story of the New Horizons probe.
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    How Social Media Exploits Our Moral Emotions

    Companies profit from the pleasure we feel in expressing righteous outrage.
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    Will Robot Surgeons Ever Be Creative?

    The idea that a surgical robot could ever substitute for the real thing is “a real stretch,” says Ken Goldberg, a distinguished U.C. Berkeley roboticist and researcher.Photograph by Elnur / Shutterstock You die at the beginning of Mass Effect 2. It’s 2183, and you—Commander Shepard—have just saved every space-faring species in the Milky Way from […]
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    Dear iPhone—It Was Just Physical, and Now It’s Over

    I can’t count the number of times I pulled out my phone just for the feeling of unlocking the screen and swiping through applications, whether out of comfort—like a baby sucking her thumb—or boredom—like a teenager at school, tapping his fingers on a desk.Photograph by cunaplus / Shutterstock As a kid, I’d sometimes try to […]
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    Here’s What We’ll Do in Space by 2118

    In a mere 60 years, we of Earth have gone from launching our first spacecraft, to exploring every planet and major moon in our solar system, to establishing an international, long-lived fleet of robotic spacecraft at the Moon and Mars. What will we do in the next 100 years? With such rapid expansion of capability, […]