Nature loves to play. And play is the thing throughout this issue. Indre Viskontas takes us inside the concert hall to explain how musical ensemble tap into brain wells of creativity and empathy that can’t be reached by going it alone. We also look at a dark side of play. Barclay Bram shares his everyday […]
The Neural Similarities Between Remembering and Imagining
The act of recalling something that happened to you looks very much like what happens when you imagine something new.Photograph by HBRH / Shutterstock Imagine a living room. Not yours or your friend’s or one you saw in a home makeover show, but one purely from your imagination—perhaps your ideal living room. You should have […]
The Quantum Theory That Peels Away the Mystery of Measurement
Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog. Imagine if all our scientific theories and models told us only about averages: if the best weather forecasts could only give you the average daily amount of rain expected over the next month, or if astronomers could only predict the average time between solar eclipses. In the early days of quantum […]
The Dr. Strange of the American Revolution
Benjamin Rush was a strange, or a strangely gifted, man, and one of the youngest—at 30—to sign the Declaration of Independence.Painting by John Trumbull / Wikicommons I ascribe the Success of our Revolution to a Galaxy,” Benjamin Rush wrote to John Adams, in 1812. He wasn’t invoking the astrological. It was commonplace then to associate […]
We Need Insects More Than They Need Us
Inside the world of plastic-eating worms, dung-rolling beetles, and agricultural ants..
Why Our Postwar “Long Peace” Is Fragile
Have mechanisms like democratization really fostered an enduring trend of peaceful co-existence, or is this just a statistical fluke—a normal interlude of relative calm before another global-scale conflagration?Illustration by Kotenko Oleksandr / Shutterstock You could be forgiven for balking at the idea that our post-World War II reality represents a “Long Peace.” The phrase, given […]
What Is the Human Microbiome, Exactly?
Are you an ecosystem? Your mouth, skin, and gut are home to whole communities of microscopic organisms, whose influence on your body ranges from digesting your food to training your immune system and, possibly, impacting your mood and behavior. What are these tiny tenants, and how do they change the way we think about human […]
Playing Video Games Makes Us Fully Human
No other media meets our emotional and social needs like electronic games.
Why We Need Court Jesters in Space
Behavioral scientists explain why Mars missions need humor.
Our Aversion to A/B Testing on Humans Is Dangerous
Research suggests that people have an irrational aversion to A/B tests, which could limit the extent to which important institutions like hospitals, legislatures, and corporations base their decisions on objective evidence.Photograph by Fernando Cortes / Shutterstock Facebook once teamed up with scientists at Cornell to conduct a now-infamous experiment on emotional contagion. Researchers randomly assigned […]