NautilusLeitura de 4 minsPsychology
Can You Treat Loneliness By Creating an Imaginary Friend?
Did you ever have an imaginary friend? If you didn’t, chances are you know someone who did. Imaginary companions, as scholars call them, are quite common, and aren’t strictly associated with childhood. They can last into the upper teen years. One of
NautilusLeitura de 11 minsPsychology
Dreaming Is Like Taking LSD: A new theory explains that dreaming opens our minds to unexplored possibilities.
Without a doubt, the biggest questions about dreaming are all variants on this question: Why do we dream? We began studying dreaming in the early 1990s and, between the two of us, have published over 200 scientific papers on sleep and dreams. Pulling
NautilusLeitura de 11 mins
Why a Universal Society Is Unattainable: Our minds evolved in an Us-vs-Them universe of our own making.
On Jan. 1, 2021, five long years after the vote for what’s become known as Brexit, and numerous marches before and after that national decision, some of which attracted more than 100,000 impassioned participants, Great Britain formally severed its ne
NautilusLeitura de 7 minsPsychology
Why Horror Films Are More Popular Than Ever: It feels good to control what will terrify you.
2020 was a bad year for just about everything—except horror. Horror films were wildly popular on streaming platforms over the past year, and 2020 saw the horror genre take home its largest share of the box office in modern history.1 In a year where t
NautilusLeitura de 6 minsChemistry
A Breakthrough in Measuring the Building Blocks of Nature
In a recent experiment done at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, in Germany, physicist Alexey Grinin and his colleagues came a step closer to resolving one of the more significant puzzles to have arisen in particle physics over the past de
NautilusLeitura de 12 mins
Humans Have Gotten Nicer and Better at Making War: Historian Margaret MacMillan on what war reveals about human nature.
In 1991 two hikers in the Italian Alps stumbled on a mummified body buried in the ice. The Iceman, it turned out, died more than 5,000 years ago. At first, archeologists assumed he’d fallen in a snowstorm and frozen to death. Then they discovered var
NautilusLeitura de 7 mins
Humans Have Rights and So Should Nature: An “Earth lawyer” argues for cultural transformation in environmental law.
Humans once lived in harmony with the natural world. Consider timekeeping. Until relatively recently, the human notion of time was based on the natural rhythms of nature. Time was measured by a new moon, the first snow, a migrating bird, or the ebb a
NautilusLeitura de 4 minsBiology
We Didn’t Evolve for This: A lesson from the animal kingdom on why COVID-19 is so deadly to humans.
When a Weddell seal, native to Antarctica, plummets 400 meters beneath the ice on one of its hour-long dives, an ensemble of adaptations come together to keep it alive. The seal’s heart rate slows. At this pace, it will burn through its deep reserve
NautilusLeitura de 4 minsPhysics
We’re the Cosmic 1 Percent But Our Solar System Isn’t a Complete Weirdo
Is Earth unique? Once a grand philosophical question, it has, over the past two decades, become, with the discovery of thousands of planets around other stars—our cosmic cousins—a scientific one. One way to address it is to imagine aliens, using pres
NautilusLeitura de 14 minsBiology
An Existential Crisis in Neuroscience: We’re mapping the brain in amazing detail—but our brain can’t understand the picture.
Happy Holidays. This week we are reprinting our top stories of 2020. This article first appeared online in our “Maps” issue in January, 2020. On a chilly evening last fall, I stared into nothingness out of the floor-to-ceiling windows in my office on
NautilusLeitura de 5 mins
Electrons May Very Well Be Conscious: Is it possible that all matter has some form of a mind?
Happy Holidays. This week we are reprinting our top stories of 2020. This article first appeared online in our Facts So Romantic blog in May, 2020. In May, the cover of New Scientist ran the headline, “Is the Universe Conscious?” Mathematician and ph
NautilusLeitura de 7 mins
How a Nuclear Submarine Officer Learned to Live in Tight Quarters: You get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Happy Holidays. This week we are reprinting our top stories of 2020. This article first appeared online in our “Outbreak” issue in April, 2020. I’m no stranger to forced isolation. For the better part of my 20s, I served as a nuclear submarine office
NautilusLeitura de 12 minsBiology
The Man Who Saw the Pandemic Coming: Will the world now wake up to the global threat of zoonotic diseases?
Happy Holidays. This week we are reprinting our top stories of 2020. This article first appeared online in our “Intelligence” issue in March, 2020. Dennis Carroll doesn’t mean to sound callous when he says the coronavirus outbreak was predictable. An
NautilusLeitura de 12 minsNature
Why Birds Can Fly Over Mount Everest: A story for my granddaughter about oxygen, evolution, and our planet’s fate.
Happy Holidays. This week we are reprinting our top stories of 2020. This article first appeared online in our “Energy” issue in June, 2020. Dear Bella, I’m going to imitate Rudyard Kipling and tell you a just-so story. Kipling was one of the most po
NautilusLeitura de 1 mins
You Want to See My Data? I Thought We Were Friends!: The trouble with academia.
Happy Holidays. This week we are reprinting our top stories of 2020. This article first appeared online in our Facts So Romantic blog in July, 2020. Stuart Ritchie is a lecturer in the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at King’s Col
NautilusLeitura de 8 minsBiology
Vaccines Are the Safest Medical Procedure We Have. Make Your Wager Wisely
In the late 1650’s, the French polymath and renowned scientist Blaise Pascal, having undergone a religious experience that transformed him into something of a zealot, suggested the following logical strategy regarding belief in God: If there is a God
NautilusLeitura de 8 minsPsychology
Outwitting the Grim Reaper: Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin on how to age successfully.
Some evolutionary biologists say that after we pass reproductive age, nature, like a cat who’s been fed, is done with us. The bodily systems that thrived and repaired themselves to ensure that we pass on healthy genes cease to function well and leave
NautilusLeitura de 11 minsBiology
Over Time, Buddhism and Science Agree: Understanding the impermanence of everything—including ourselves.
I remember my grandfather commenting—wry amusement tinged with grim resignation—that what made him finally feel old was seeing his children reach middle age. I was a child then. Now I see my own children, not quite middle aged, starting to have child
NautilusLeitura de 11 minsPsychology
Reading, That Strange and Uniquely Human Thing: How we evolved to read is a story of one creative species.
The Chinese artist Xu Bing has long experimented to stunning effect with the limits of the written form. Last year I visited the Centre del Carme in Valencia, Spain, to see a retrospective of his work. One installation, Book from the Sky, featured sc
NautilusLeitura de 6 minsScience & Mathematics
The Sight of Jupiter and Saturn Together Is a Beautiful Thing
Today, December 21, Jupiter and Saturn will appear extremely close to each other in the sky, less than a tenth of a degree apart, about one fifth the width of the full Moon.1 “Conjunctions” like this happen all the time but, for us, here on Earth, it
NautilusLeitura de 12 minsNature
How Sea Turtles Find Their Way: Whether you’re a sea turtle or a ship’s captain, you’ll need two tools—a map and a compass.
The air was warm as the skies grew dark over Diego Garcia. As the nearly full moon reached its highest point, a green sea turtle scuttled her way onto the sand. The ocean giant was more than a meter wide and nearly as long from nose to tail. Her cara
NautilusLeitura de 6 minsBiology
Playing Go with Darwin: New research elevates evolution from a tactical process to one of strategic possibility.
“I have lately been especially attending to Geograph. Distrib, & most splendid sport it is,—a grand game of chess with the world for a Board.”—Charles Darwin to C.J.F. Bunbury (1856) In 1938, Yasunari Kawabata, a young journalist in Tokyo, covered th
NautilusLeitura de 8 minsSelf-Improvement
Why It Pays to Play Around: Play is so important that nature invented it long before it invented us.
The 19th-century physicist Hermann von Helmholtz compared his progress in solving a problem to that of a mountain climber “compelled to retrace his steps because his progress stopped.” A mountain climber, von Helmholtz said, “hits upon traces of a fr
NautilusLeitura de 8 minsMedical
How to Build Trust in Covid-19 Vaccines: Why people distrust vaccines and how they can be convinced otherwise.
Safe, effective, and available vaccines are the best long-term solution to the coronavirus pandemic.1 So it’s welcome news that two vaccines are poised for distribution and others will soon be on their way. Preliminary clinical trial data from these
NautilusLeitura de 10 minsTechnology & Engineering
Toys Are the Future of Philosophy: Playthings shouldn’t confine kids but allow them to ask, What if?
I have been wanting to do this since I was 5 years old,” Apple CEO Tim Cook proclaimed to a packed San Francisco auditorium on March 9, 2015. “The day is finally here.” The standing ovation that Cook received as he announced the arrival of the Apple
NautilusLeitura de 8 minsPsychology
What Did the Past Smell Like?: Get a whiff of a new sensory experience in history.
When people entertain transporting to the past, 19th-century Berlin, say, they don’t often imagine a dramatic shift in smellscape. The inhabitants talk differently. Their fashion looks strange. But what do those streets smell like? Suddenly, it hits
NautilusLeitura de 5 minsPhysics
Physicists Nail Down the “Magic Number” That Shapes the Universe
Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog. As fundamental constants go, the speed of light, c, enjoys all the fame, yet c’s numerical value says nothing about nature; it differs depending on whether it’s measured in meters pe
NautilusLeitura de 21 minsPhysics
Five Scientists on the Heroes Who Changed Their Lives: Meet the inspiring people—none named Einstein—who helped these scientists find their calling.
The Man Who Loved PhysicsBy Alan Lightman Several years ago, I attended a Buddhist retreat in which I was introduced to the idea of the “retinue,” a constellation of influential and supportive people whom one imagines in an enveloping cloud as one me
NautilusLeitura de 7 minsBiology
Person, Woman, Man, Camera, TV: Is memorizing a string of words a key to what makes the human brain unique?
Imagine that someone asked you to come up with a sequence of five words. In any other year, some idiosyncratic combination would likely come to mind. This year, though, one five-word sequence that has been etched into the memories of many Americans,
NautilusLeitura de 10 minsPhysics
Time Flows Toward Order: Revisiting the gospel of the second law of thermodynamics.
The one law of physics that virtually all scientists believe will never be found to be wrong is the second law of thermodynamics. Despite this exalted status, it has long been associated with a great mystery and a bleak implication. The mystery is th
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