Nautilus6 min. leídosPsychology
This Philosophical Argument Convinced People to Give More to Charity
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 payment t
Nautilus9 min. leídosSociety
The Contagion Detective: Adam Kucharski explains how diseases like COVID-19 and misinformation spread.
The COVID-19 pandemic was some epidemiologist’s nightmare when Adam Kucharski was writing Rules of Contagion. Released this week, the book, which includes brief mentions of the encroaching COVID-19 storm, draws on ideas from “outbreak science” to ill
Nautilus8 min. leídosSociety
The Damage We’re Not Attending To: Scientists who study complex systems offer solutions to the pandemic.
World War II bomber planes returned from their missions riddled with bullet holes. The first response was, not surprisingly, to add armor to those areas most heavily damaged. However, the statistician Abraham Wald made what seemed like the counterint
Nautilus13 min. leídosPsychology
The Things We Can’t Control Are Beautiful: How Maria Konnikova found enlightenment at the poker table.
Poker players like to brag they win with skill not luck. So do investment bankers. Scientists. And writers. Skill, we insist, is our ticket to success. Who can blame us? It’s a useful delusion to bank our identity on skill, says Maria Konnikova. We c
Nautilus16 min. leídos
What I Learned from Losing $200 Million: The 2008 financial crisis taught me about the illusion of control, and how to give it up.
I’d lost almost $200 million in October. November wasn’t looking any better. It was 2008, after the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. Markets were in turmoil. Banks were failing left and right. I worked at a major investment bank, and while I didn’t think
Nautilus6 min. leídosPsychology
How the Pandemic Has Tested Behavioral Science
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 the so-called “Nudge Unit,” a private company called Behavioral Insights Team, w
Nautilus5 min. leídos
The Dr. Strange of the American Revolution
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 a bright assembly of people with the starry band in the night sky that Chaucer
Nautilus11 min. leídos
The Glassmaker Who Sparked Astrophysics: His curious discovery, 200 years ago, foresaw our expanding universe.
The lights in the sky above us—the sun, the moon, and the panoply of countless stars—have surely been a source of wonder since long before recorded history. Ingenious efforts to measure distances to them began in earnest in the 3rd and 4th centuries
Nautilus10 min. leídos
The Idea of Entropy Has Led Us Astray: Let’s stop hustling as if the world is running toward disorder.
Last summer, in the early days of a heat wave that would culminate in the highest temperatures ever recorded in Paris, I biked across the city to meet my friend Romain Graziani. At a sidewalk café, we sipped burnt espresso and watched the air shimmer
Nautilus8 min. leídos
Uncovering The Spark Of Life: What finding life on Mars could tell us about our own origins.
This summer, NASA’s Perseverance rover will set out on a voyage to the edge of the Jezero crater on Mars. The goal of the mission is to learn more about our neighboring planet, and to collect core samples that will one day return to Earth. The hope i
Nautilus5 min. leídos
The Black Sheep of Black Holes
The Indian-American astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar once remarked that black holes, regions of spacetime whose gravitational field is so strong that not even light can escape its clutches, are the simplest, most perfect macroscopic objects
Nautilus5 min. leídos
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 pred
Nautilus5 min. leídos
The Trouble with Counting Alien Civilizations: Life on Earth is a sketchy guide to intelligent life in the cosmos.
You might imagine that in the midst of a global pandemic and all of its social and economic fallout that our minds would be laser-focused on immediate, Earthly woes. But apparently not entirely. A case in point is the recent virus-like spread of news
Nautilus6 min. leídos
The Mystery of the Dark Asteroid That Scorched Russia: A new theory emerges to explain the enigmatic Tunguska Event.
On a June morning in 1908, above a sleepy forest in the Siberian Taiga plush with larches, spruces, and black bears, something flashed so bright and hot in the sky that a hunter 10 miles away, near the Middle Tunguska River, tore his shirt off thinki
Nautilus12 min. leídos
Why Birds Can Fly Over Mount Everest: A story for my granddaughter about oxygen, evolution, and our planet’s fate.
Dear Bella, I’m going to imitate Rudyard Kipling and tell you a just-so story. Kipling was one of the most popular writers in the world 100 years ago. He wrote The Jungle Book. And also Just So Stories, which began as bedtime stories he told his daug
Nautilus5 min. leídos
Life On Earth Is A Sketchy Guide To An Alien Civilization
You might imagine that in the midst of a global pandemic and all of its social and economic fallout that our minds would be laser-focused on immediate, Earthly woes. But apparently not entirely. A case in point is the recent virus-like spread of news
Nautilus4 min. leídos
The Animal Kingdom Should Have Father’s Day Too
Becoming a parent brings out the best in many animals. Although parenting is usually left to the females, males from many species go above and beyond to care for the offspring. Take anemonefish. In Finding Nemo, Marlin swims over 1,000 miles from the
Nautilus7 min. leídos
T. Rex Was a Slacker: A natural wonder of the big theropod was how it conserved energy.
In our evolving understanding of dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus rex has acquired a new persona in recent decades. It’s always been the imperious, curiously agile two-ton gargantua, personified as a gaunt, grizzle-faced gunfighter at the dark end of the bar
Nautilus9 min. leídos
The Power of Crossed Brain Wires: Synesthesia makes ordinary life marvelous.
When I was about 6, my mind did something wondrous, although it felt perfectly natural at the time. When I encountered the name of any day of the week, I automatically associated it with a color or a pattern, always the same one, as if the word embod
Nautilus6 min. leídos
Why Aliens and Volcanoes Go Together: Life on other planets may rely on plate tectonics.
The novelist William Golding suggested to James Lovelock that he name his now-famous hypothesis after the Greek goddess of the Earth, Gaia. It was a good fit: Lovelock believed that the living and inanimate parts of the Earth formed a single, interac
Nautilus13 min. leídos
A Neuroscientist’s Theory of Everything: Karl Friston takes us on a safari of his free-energy principle.
Karl Friston wanted me to know he had plenty of time. That wasn’t quite true. He just didn’t want our conversation—about his passion, the physics of mental life—to end. Once it did, he would have to step outside, have a cigarette, and get straight ba
Nautilus4 min. leídosTech
Could an AI Be Immortal?: Data is under attack and uploads his brain. Does he survive?
Consider Data, the android from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Suppose he finds himself on a hostile planet, surrounded by aliens that are just about to dismantle him. In a last-ditch effort to survive, he quickly uploads his artificial brain onto t
Nautilus8 min. leídosScience
Drowning in Light: Technology has fed our addiction to light, and might help us end it.
In 1996, Yale economist William D. Nordhaus calculated that the average citizen of Babylon would have had to work a total of 41 hours to buy enough lamp oil to equal a 75-watt light bulb burning for one hour. At the time of the American Revolution, a
Nautilus16 min. leídos
The Road Less Traveled to Fusion Energy: This privateer is developing a way to power the world with water and borax.
The modern quest for Promethean fire is underway in an anonymous office park in Foothill Ranch, California, an hour southeast of Los Angeles. In the park, along a meandering drive, you will find a huge, modern warehouse building with “TAE Technologie
Nautilus8 min. leídos
Why Is the Human Brain So Efficient?: How massive parallelism lifts the brain’s performance above that of AI.
The brain is complex; in humans it consists of about 100 billion neurons, making on the order of 100 trillion connections. It is often compared with another complex system that has enormous problem-solving power: the digital computer. Both the brain
Nautilus14 min. leídos
Einstein’s Lost Hypothesis: Is a third-act twist to nuclear energy at hand?
When Ernest Sternglass walked up the steps at 112 Mercer Street in April 1947, he knew it would not be a normal day. Like a church deacon summoned to meet the Pope, Sternglass—a 23-year-old researcher at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory in Washington, D
Nautilus7 min. leídos
Young And Healthy And Waiting To Get Cancer: The hardest part of living with the BRCA1 gene.
I’m young and perfectly healthy, but I’m waiting for the day when I finally get sick. While many of us are locked down in our homes due to the coronavirus pandemic, it may feel like the world is currently sharing a collective period of waiting. Howev
Nautilus6 min. leídos
Mice on Acid: To get a legal hallucinogen to market, rodents need to take the first trip.
In the bowels of an animal research facility at Oxford University, mice are stirring in cages. Half of them have been given an injection of saline solution and behave like the docile house pet of your local fifth-grader. The other half have been give
Nautilus4 min. leídosWellness
No Country for Old People: The COVID-19 death rate in Sweden has exposed worldwide bias against the elderly.
Sweden did not set out to kill thousands of its older citizens. Nor did any country as COVID-19 swept across the globe. But Sweden’s unique and closely watched approach to the pandemic has spotlighted the tragic toll the coronavirus has taken on the
Nautilus9 min. leídos
A Vision of Our Post-Lockdown Future: China’s health codes allow people to resume their lives with confidence. At what cost?
Xu Jiao was anxious to get back in the gym. Living in Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan province, she had gone through two months of lockdown. The pandemic hadn’t been particularly bad in the city. To date there have been 144 confirmed cases an
… o descubre algo nuevo