Why a Thriving Civilization in Malta Collapsed 4,000 Years Ago
The Ġgantija temples of Malta are among the earliest free-standing buildings known.Photograph by Bs0u10e01 / Wikicommons The mysteries of an ancient civilization that survived for more than a millennium on the island of Malta—and then collapsed within two generations—have been unravelled by archaeologists who analyzed pollen buried deep within the earth and ancient DNA from […]
Can Neuroscience Understand Free Will?
Perhaps free will won’t forever be an issue philosophers mull over for a lifetime. Whatever the result, there’s always the ironic answer to the question of whether we have free will: “Of course we do. We have no choice.”Screengrab via The Good Place / YouTube In The Good Place, a cerebral fantasy-comedy TV series, moral […]
She Rewrote the Moon’s Origin Story
The Apollo missions were a giant leap for science.
How Swarming Insects Act Like Fluids
Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog. Starlings take to the sky in swirling vortices; ants teem like rivers. “They stretch, they move around, but they retain cohesion in a way you’d expect from a fluid moving,” said Nicholas Ouellette, a physicist at Stanford University. That’s why to him, it isn’t far-fetched to think about collective animal behavior in […]
Think You Know the Definition of a Black Hole? Think Again
When I was 12, I made the mistake of watching the Paul W. S. Anderson horror film, Event Horizon. It gave me nightmares for weeks: The movie’s title refers to an experimental spaceship that could create artificial black holes through which to travel, making interstellar trips trivial. But the crew, upon activating the ship’s gravity […]
It Takes a Village to Raise a Meerkat
What the rare cooperative species tells us about ourselves.
Six Degrees of Separation at Burning Man
What our experiment in the desert taught us about social networks and human cooperation.
The Moon Is Full of Money
Capitalism in space.
The Strange Similarity of Neuron and Galaxy Networks
Your life’s memories could, in principle, be stored in the universe’s structure.
The Computer Maverick Who Modeled the Evolution of Life
Nils Aall Barricelli showed that organisms evolved by symbiosis and cooperation.