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    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 […]

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    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 […]

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    She Rewrote the Moon’s Origin Story

    The Apollo missions were a giant leap for science.

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    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 […]

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    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 […]

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    It Takes a Village to Raise a Meerkat

    What the rare cooperative species tells us about ourselves.

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    Six Degrees of Separation at Burning Man

    What our experiment in the desert taught us about social networks and human cooperation.

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    The Moon Is Full of Money

    Capitalism in space.

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    The Strange Similarity of Neuron and Galaxy Networks

    Your life’s memories could, in principle, be stored in the universe’s structure.

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    The Computer Maverick Who Modeled the Evolution of Life

    Nils Aall Barricelli showed that organisms evolved by symbiosis and cooperation.