20 articles
  • Article Recirculation Lead Image

    Most of the Mind Can’t Tell Fact from Fiction

    Even after you understand how an illusion operates, it continues to fool part of your mind. This is the kind of double knowledge we have when we consume fiction.Photograph by KieferPix / Shutterstock Stories, fiction included, act as a kind of surrogate life. You can learn from them so seamlessly that you might believe you […]
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    Can New Species Evolve From Cancers? Maybe.

    Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog.Aggressive cancers can spread so fiercely that they seem less like tissues gone wrong and more like invasive parasites looking to consume and then break free of their host. If a wild theory recently floated in Biology Direct is correct, something like that might indeed happen on rare […]
  • Rieppel_HERO

    How American Tycoons Created the Dinosaur

    The story of dinosaurs is also the story of capitalism.
  • Musser_HERO

    A Hologram Shows How Space Could Pop Into Existence

    The holographic principle—with a real hologram.
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    What Color Really Evolved For

    The finding that melanosomes are so common inside animals’ bodies may overhaul our very understanding of the function of melanin, the pigment responsible for color in feathers and other external features.Photograph by Aline Dassel / Pixabay What color were the dinosaurs? If you have a picture in your head, fresh studies suggest you may need […]
  • Berger_HERO

    Human Emotions Are Personal Narratives

    Neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux on what makes our brains unique.

  • LeDoux_HERO

    The Tricky Problem with Other Minds

    How our mental states overlap with and diverge from those of other species.

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    Daydreams Shape Your Sense of Self

    Certain daydreams reflect what is important to a person; what worries them, who they care about, and what they love and aspire to do.Photograph by Crispy Fish Images / Shutterstock You are at home, cutting onions for dinner, and tear up from the vapor. Your mother, teaching you how to cut onions when you were […]

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    How Aging Shapes Narrative Identity

    It’s not just our flesh and bones that change as we get older.Photograph by dirkmvp41 / Flickr In 2010, Dan McAdams wrote a biography about George W. Bush analyzing the former American president using the tools of personality psychology. It was, in his own words, a flop. “I probably had three readers,” McAdams laughs. But […]

  • Gallagher_HERO

    Humans Are Wired for Goodness

    We’re not as bad as the headlines make us out to be.

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    Does English Fulfill the Dream of a Universal Language?

    English adapts to the needs of people speaking it more than it shapes those people’s ideas or ideals.Photograph by kimberrywood / Shutterstock Hideo Kojima is the Japanese creator of the 2015 video game, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. He evidently chose “phantom pain” as a subtitle because he thought it captured the experience […]

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    Why Did Witch Hunts Go Viral?

    If it is in fact accurate to think of witch trial beliefs as viruses, maybe it would be helpful to study their spread the way scientists study the spread of viruses: using an epidemiological model.“The Witch, No. 1” (1892) by Joseph E. Baker / Wikicommons It’s hard to make sense of witch hunts. Many people […]
  • Berger_HERO

    A Novelist Teaches Herself Physics

    To explore loss and mystery, Nell Freudenberger journeyed into the atomic world.
  • Chiang_HERO

    The Great Silence

    A parrot has a question for humans.
  • Article Recirculation Lead Image

    In Brain’s Electrical Ripples, Markers for Memories Appear

    Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog.It’s very easy to break things in biology,” said Loren Frank, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco. “It’s really hard to make them work better.” Nautilus Members enjoy an ad-free experience. Log in or Join now . Yet against the odds, researchers at the New York […]
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    The Real Differences Between Human and Artificial Intelligence

    Artificial Intelligence, it seems, is now everywhere. Text translation, speech recognition, book recommendations, even your spam filter is now “artificially intelligent.” But just what do scientists mean with “artificial intelligence,” and what is artificial about it?Artificial intelligence is a term that was coined in the 1980s, and today’s research on the topic has many facets. […]