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  • open mind lucky_HERO

    The Key to Good Luck Is an Open Mind

    Luck can seem synonymous with randomness. To call someone lucky is usually to deny the relevance of their hard work or talent. As Richard Wiseman, the Professor of Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, in the United Kingdom, puts it, lucky people “appear to have an uncanny ability to be in the […]

  • goth chicken ayam cemeni hero

    Inside the Goth Chicken: Black Bones, Black Meat, and a Black Heart

    In the historical novel The Black Tulip, written by Alexandre Dumas, an honest and decent Dutch tulip fancier is nearly brought to ruin by his quest to breed a purely black flower. More precisely, his misadventure is due to the dastardly schemes of his neighbor, who, frantic with spite and jealousy over the plants, frames […]

  • everything theory_HERO

    Why Theories of Everything Are Ill-Conceived

    The police don’t often sympathize with speeding drivers, but if you’re a quantum gravity physicist who was distracted by a grand epiphany while driving at night, you might have a better chance. “The Italian policeman asked me politely if I was crazy to drive at that speed,” writes the Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli in his […]

  • face cloud_HERO

    Why We Hear Voices in Random Noise

    You may have once seen a giant face in the clouds. Perhaps it took you aback, amused you, or maybe it prompted an “uncanny valley” kind of sensation—realness, but with a lingering unease. In any case, it’s not a modern phenomenon. It’s thought that a similar experience was shared by an early hominid approximately 3 […]

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    Why Pascal’s Wager Is Eminently Modern

    Fingers Crossed: Pascal reasoned that life is a sort of “game,” and that our faith in God, or lack-there-of, is our wager as to the ultimate nature of reality.Photograph by Albert / Flickr On the evening of November 23rd, 1654, the brilliant polymath Blaise Pascal was thrown from his horse-drawn carriage, the creatures having been […]

  • sailing superstition_HERO

    Even Scientists Act Superstitious at Sea

    To wish someone “good luck” is taboo aboard a ship. So are transporting bananas and whistling. But sighting a pod of dolphins can invite good fortune, I discovered last November, as I sailed 3,000 miles from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Wearing a gold hoop earring, I learned from one of my crewmates, who had one […]

  • Falk_HERO

    The Multiple Multiverses May Be One and the Same

    If multiverses seem weird, it’s because we need to revamp our notions of time and space.

  • Tycho_HERO

    Why Renaissance Astronomer Tycho Brahe Is Still a Star

    Something is rotten in Denmark, but not to worry, it’s just the remains of astronomer Tycho Brahe. Despite being dead for over 400 years, this Renaissance astronomer continues to captivate scientists, historians, and the public. Part of his fame is due to his scientific credentials. Brahe is the father of modern observational astronomy, known for […]

  • moral luck_HERO

    How Considering False Histories Changes Our Moral Judgments

    Moral luck isn’t just a philosopher’s toy concept. It’s reflected in our legal system. Suppose that you and your roommate, Riley, get equally drunk and both drive home separately on similar routes. Let’s say both of you are equally skilled drivers but also equally impaired, and just by chance, you kill somebody crossing the street […]

  • green music_HERO

    Plants Have an “Ear” for Music

    While he was a soldier stationed in a Korean demilitarized zone in the 1960s, the late Dan Carlson, Sr. was horrified when he saw a mother intentionally cripple her child to receive food subsidies. Moved by that experience, he enrolled after returning home at the University of Minnesota under his GI Bill, and buried his […]