Where “The Walking Dead” Goes Wrong With Zombies
Rick Grimes is cornered. A walker shuffles toward him, thoughtless yet eager for flesh. Sweat drips through Grimes’ thick beard, grown in the hundreds of fearful days and nights since the dead started to roam the earth. He quickly reaches for his knife—a weapon he never used in his days as a cop—and sinks it […]
When Did Tribalism Get To Be So Fashionable?
“I against my brothers. I and my brothers against my cousins. I and my brothers and my cousins against the world.”—Nafisa Haji, The Sweetness of Tears Last month, I published an article on Nautilus called “Is Tribalism a Natural Malfunction?”. It was a meditation on a series of computer experiments in the study of Prisoner’s […]
Astronomy Has Just Gained a New Sense
There are many stories to tell about GW170817. There are stories of a binary neutron star inspiral, two dead stars locked in a deadly dance that culminated in a collision. There are accounts of a worldwide collaboration of scientists, all working to discover what happened 130 million light-years away in NGC 4993. There are […]
Why Dementia Is a Population-Level Problem
Dementia is typically thought of and treated as an individual sickness. Unlike something like measles, dementia is non-transferrable, and can’t be vaccinated against. But Malaz Boustani, a professor of medicine at Indiana University, thinks that the right way to think about dementia may be through the lens of epidemiology—“the branch of medicine that deals […]
In Fermat’s Library, No Margin Is Too Narrow
Ever asked what the Internet thought about something and immediately regretted it? The four researchers behind Fermat’s Library, a platform and online community for discussing scientific papers, have had quite a different experience. With 3.5 million monthly visitors across their website, Twitter, and other social presences, Fermat’s Library is more than an academic tool. […]
Is Talking About De-Extinction a Moral Hazard?
There’s a saying, in conservation biology, credited to the plant ecologist Frank Egler: Ecosystems are not just more complex than we think, they’re more complex than we can think. With doomsday narratives swirling about nuclear war, the existential threat of artificial intelligence, and runaway global warming, it’s one we might want to constantly bear in […]
Why We Still Need Monsters
This month’s Ingenious, Stephen T. Asma, on what haunts us.
Yoda Is Dead but Star Wars’ Dubious Lessons Live On
We didn’t say “break the Internet” back in 1999, but if we did we could certainly say that science-fiction author David Brin broke the Internet when he wrote in Salon that “Stars Wars belongs to our dark past. A long, tyrannical epoch of fear, illogic, despotism, and demagoguery that our ancestors struggled desperately to […]
How Video Games Satisfy Basic Human Needs
Psychologists found that video games that allowed players to play out their “ideal selves” (embodying roles that allow them to be, for example, braver, fairer, more generous, or more glorious) were not only the most intrinsically rewarding, but also had the greatest influence on our emotions.Illustration by Ferino Design / Flickr Grand Theft Auto, that […]
The Science Behind “Blade Runner”’s Voight-Kampff Test
Is Rick Deckard a replicant, an advanced bioengineered being? The jury concerning the character in 1982’s Blade Runner is still out. Harrison Ford, who plays Deckard in the film, thinks he’s human. Ridley Scott, the film’s director, is adamant that he’s not.* Hampton Fancher, the screenwriter for the original film and the sequel, Blade Runner […]