Are Algorithms Building the New Infrastructure of Racism?
How we use big data can reinforce our worst biases—or help fix them.
Why save a drowning stranger? That’s the question biologist Rob Trivers asked at the beginning of his classic 1971 paper, “The evolution of reciprocal altruism.” The answer, he argued, is that it becomes worth it if you can have the expectation of being saved in the future. The population that selects for altruism and against […]
Why Stem Cells Are Unfair to Their Children
A dividing neural stem cell asymmetrically segregates some cargoes between the two resulting daughter cells—blue shows DNA, red shows cellular cargo.Darcie Moore Darcie Moore is an expert on cargo. Not the kind you’d find on a freight train, though—it’s the cargo you’d find in stem cells, the kind that can transform into the different types […]
Is Quantum Theory About Reality or What We Know?
Does the quantum state ultimately represent some objective aspect of reality, or is it a way of characterizing something about us, namely, something about what some person knows about reality?Photograph by Ben Scholzen / Flickr Physicists know how to use quantum theory—your phone and computer give plenty of evidence of that. But knowing how to […]
A Brainless Breakthrough in Neuroscience
Researchers recorded the activity of every neuron in a hydroid and correlated it with its behavior—a major conceptual and experimental breakthrough that might allow scientists to better understand how interactions among neurons control behavior.Photograph by Corvana / Wikicommons Rafael Yuste thinks neuroscientists have been looking at the brain too close. “It’s just like a TV […]
Why Garbage Science Gets Published
Predatory journals keep the pseudoscience flowing.
The Science of Star Wars Weaponry
Just how realistic are lightsabers, blasters, and ion cannons?
The Fish That Took a Century to Name
The unlikely story of Alfred Russel Wallace’s pike.
The Resulting Fallacy Is Ruining Your Decisions
Are you judging your decisions on their outcomes?
Why Your Brain Hates Other People
And how to make it think differently.