Could anything be more fundamental in life and science than energy? And be more various and mysterious? Energy may be the term we use most often without quite knowing what it means. So how do you begin to plumb the many meanings of energy?
This Philosophical Argument Convinced People to Give More to Charity
How much would you pay to prevent your own child becoming blind?Photograph by 1000Photography / Shutterstock Last fall Fiery Cushman, the director of the Moral Psychology Research Lab at Harvard, and I announced a contest: We would award $1,000 to the author of an argument that effectively convinces research participants to donate a surprise bonus […]
The Dr. Strange of the American Revolution
In Rush, author Stephen Fried confirms what earlier biographical writings on the doctor had observed: that history misunderstood him, “had not taken him seriously enough as a founder, a writer, a teacher, and a revolutionary in politics, medicine, religion, public health, and philosophy.”.Painting by John Trumbull / Wikicommons I ascribe the Success of our Revolution […]
How the Pandemic Has Tested Behavioral Science
In the interplay between behavioral science and policy, puffs of smoke abound.Photo illustration by metamorworks / Shutterstock In March the United Kingdom curiously declined to impose significant social distancing measures in response to the global pandemic. The government was taking advice from several parties, among them the so-called “Nudge Unit,” a private company called Behavioral […]
The Black Sheep of Black Holes
Primordial black holes could have formed in the absence of any matter, from quantum fluctuations that would go on to form, after billions of years, the filament-like scaffolding around which all galaxy clusters now coalesce. NASA The Indian-American astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar once remarked that black holes, regions of spacetime whose gravitational field is so strong […]
The Idea of Entropy Has Led Us Astray
Let’s stop hustling as if the world is running toward disorder.
Uncovering the Spark of Life
What finding life on Mars could tell us about our own origins.
Steven Pinker on the Tribal Roots of Defying Social Distancing
The images are everywhere: People crowded face-to-face in swimming pools, shoulder-to-shoulder in indoor bars, cheering without masks at a rally held by President Trump, who often downplays the global pandemic. Now, as many public health experts predicted, waves of new COVID-19 infections and deaths are rolling across the South and West. Many, still practicing […]
The Mystery of the Dark Asteroid That Scorched Russia
A new theory emerges to explain the enigmatic Tunguska Event.
The Trouble with Counting Alien Civilizations
Life on Earth is a sketchy guide to intelligent life in the cosmos.