A Holiday Guest Is Leaving Dangerous Poop in Your Couch
Although dust mites don’t directly harm us, they trigger allergies in about a billion people. But we aren’t allergic to the buggers themselves. We’re allergic to their poop.Image courtesy of Pavel Klimov We have long known that we can catch germs while traveling. Recent years have shown that we can also bring home bed bugs. […]
Here’s How to Make Climate Change Extra Scary
Thirty thousand years ago, a woolly mammoth in Siberia shed a giant virus. It soon became encased in ice and, for tens of thousands of years, the virus slept. As global temperatures warm and the permafrost begins to melt, the virus stirs. It is sucked into the nostril of a researcher where it injects its […]
The Stranger Things That Gave Birth to Science
Finding regularity in nature is the bread and butter of science. We know that reptiles lay eggs, while mammals bear live young; the Earth revolves around the sun every 365.25 days; electrons glom onto protons like bears onto honey. But what if some oddity seems to defy the laws of nature, like the platypus, […]
Is the Modern Mass Extinction Overrated?
We are ignoring the gains that balance the losses.
Do monsters have an expiry date? They’re not just dangerous, after all, or evil, or frightening. They challenge our categories. They are perversions of the natural order.
Why Medieval Cats Approved of the Plague
The cat as the witch’s familiar in the 17th century, woodcut.Mary Evans Picture Library From the 12th century onward there were two distinct attitudes to cats. For many people the cat population operated as important rodent-controllers, and every so often a cat would go beyond being a mere working animal and become a welcome pet […]
How Evolution Designed Your Fear
The universal grip of Stephen King’s personal terrors.
How Absurd Do You Like Your Art?
fStop Images – Caspar Benson / Getty Images Some art makes a lot of sense. If we look at a painting or a photograph of a gorgeous view, its beauty feels natural. The reason for this is that the kinds of landscapes people tend to like correspond to places that would have been a good […]
What Boredom Does to You
The science of the wandering mind.
Frankenstein in the Age of CRISPR-Cas9
The so-called “year without a summer,” 1816, was bleak, if not strangely gothic. Mount Tambora in Indonesia had erupted the year before, pitching volcanic ash into the atmosphere and obscuring the sun. Torrential rains pressed deep into the year, resulting in global crop failures. The birds quieted down by midday, as darkness descended, and […]