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issue_20

  • Creativity

    While we sometimes consider creativity a hallmark of being human, it is not only a human trait. Crows can perform experiments and use induction; computers can evolve new algorithms that surprise their human programmers. Is creativity a mechanical and inanimate thing, so human creativity differs only in degree? Or is human creativity different, reflecting something […]

  • Eye Benches WCMA Arthur Evans

    6 Pieces of Art That Open Minds—and Get Stuff Done

      The modern artist David Hockney once said that “art has to move you and design does not, unless it’s a good design for a bus.” Such a polemic statement implies that there can be no blurring between pure art and usefulness. But an artwork’s function and the viewer’s interaction with it can be an […]

  • Extinction Marathon

    Art’s Biggest Wheel Turns Toward Science

    Hans-Ulrich ObristTwitter Hans-Ulrich Obrist seems to be everywhere—and it’s not much of an illusion. Widely regarded as the most influential figure in today’s art world, he’s worked with a who’s-who of major artists, from painter Gerhard Richter and sculptor Jeff Koons to performance artist Marina Abramovic and architect Rem Koolhass. From his perch as co-director of […]

  • The Abduction of Europa

    Finding the Perfect Amount of Creativity in Cars & Religion

    The Abduction of Europa (1716), by Jean-Francois de Troy, depicts one of the many Greek myths in which Zeus transforms into an animal.Wikipedia Creativity is an important driver of innovation, and in the arts and industry people work hard to be more creative, sometimes shelling out lots of money for creativity consultants. But is more creativity always better? Is […]

  • lucy walking skeleton

    Why Are You So Smart? Thank Your Mom & Your Difficult Birth

    A reconstructed skeleton of Lucy, the famous human ancestor. By 3.2 million years ago, Australopithecines were walking upright, imposing strict limits on the size of the female pelvis.Cleveland Museum of Natural History Looking around our planet today, it’s hard not to be struck by humanity’s uniqueness. We are the only species around that writes books, […]

  • feminized human skulls faces Cieri

    Before We Painted Like Picasso, We Had to Share Like Gandhi

    A comparison of the facial features of ancient modern humans (left) to more recent modern humans (right). Modern specimens have a less prominent brow ridge and a shorted upper face. Researchers suspect these changes were caused by a decrease of testosterone.Robert Cieri   In Earth’s not-so-distant fossil record of human ancestors, an important change appears […]

  • Carstensen_HERO

    Robots Can’t Dance

    Why the singularity is greatly exaggerated.

  • Edgar Degas Two ironing women

    How “Meaning Withdrawal,” aka Boredom, Can Boost Creativity

    Two Ironing WomenEdward Degas In his book Boredom: A Lively History, an oxymoronic title if ever there was one, Peter Toohey argues that the eponymous feeling has plagued our species since ancient times. “Boredom is a universal experience, and it’s been felt in most eras,” says Toohey, a professor of Greek and Roman studies at […]

  • Man in cocoon Vocal Vibrations Le Laboratoire

    Art + Science = Innovation

    The “chapel” area at the Vocal Vibrations exhibitAmy Kraft Upon entering the Vocal Vibrations installation at Le Laboratoire Cambridge, visitors are directed to a room called the chapel, where a haunting vocal composition plays out of nine speakers positioned around the room. After relaxing on a bench to focus on the music, people are led […]

  • Eta Carinae pre supernova

    How the Universe Made the Stuff That Made Us

      When our Universe was in its infancy, the only element it contained was hydrogen, the simplest one—not nearly enough by itself to create interesting things like planets and people. By the time things cooled sufficiently for the single proton in each hydrogen atom to pair with a negatively charged electron, about 92 percent of […]