Genius is a category that is both important and not well understood. Is genius accomplishment or talent? Social construct or hard fact? Derivative of intellect or something else? Restricted to humans? An evolutionary advantage, or a weed?
How to Avoid the Desperate Future of “Interstellar”
In 2011 America’s astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, was on Real Time with Bill Maher discussing the proposed termination of NASA’s James Webb Telescope, which the House Appropriations Committee had decried as “billions of dollars over budget and plagued by poor management.” Tyson went on to deliver what is now one of his most famous quotes: […]
Can a Card Game Stealthily Teach People Genetics?
High school biology class. You’re sitting in the back of the room. A ladder-like strip is drawn sideways across the whiteboard. There’s a strange blob seemingly tearing up the ladder from within and a comb-shaped strand sticking out beneath the blob. While looking at your phone and flicking from one social media channel to […]
6 Traits of Tomorrow’s Blockbuster Digital Technologies
If history adheres to timeless long-term trends, Walter Isaacson’s recent book on the digital revolution, The Innovators, could reveal a lot about the future of our digital age. Last week Isaacson, known for his biographies of Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein, spoke about the geniuses behind the last century of innovation at the New-York […]
Ingenious: Vijay Iyer
On the science and talent of music.
We All Used to Be Geniuses
To adults learning a second language, it hardly seems fair: As they stumble their way through conjugation drills, fret over grammar textbooks, and fill in worksheets on constructing subordinate clauses, their children sop up the language while finger painting at preschool. Within months, correct syntax pours itself out of the tykes’ mouths, involving no […]
Our Cities Could Get a Whole Lot Smarter
Pieces of SolaRoad, concrete blocks topped with solar cells, were recently installed in a bike path in Holland.SolaRoad Remember having to stay at home and wait for phone calls? (If you’re below a certain age, you can consult old movies, books, or TV shows—or just trust me on this.) It wasn’t so long ago that […]
A Mind That Unraveled DNA & Chased Consciousness
In his most recent book, Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist, Christof Koch wrote that he has known only one genius: Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule. “In a lifetime of teaching, working and debating with some of the smartest people on the planet, I’ve encountered brilliance and high achievement, but […]
One Key to Wisdom: Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste
Folsom Lake, near Sacramento, provides a clear illustration of the extent of California’s drought. On July 20, 2011, the reservoir was at 97 percent of capacity. On January 16, 2014, it was at 17 percent, and there was no water flowing through the Folsom Dam.California Department of Water Resources via NASA California is the […]
Rhythm’s the Thing
Pianist Vijay Iyer gives us a master class in the science of rhythm.