Ben Smith

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Basal Forebrain Neurons Fine Tune Consciousness by Synchronizing Rhythms

<b>Like musical sounds, different states of mind are defined by distinct, characteristic waveforms, recognizable frequencies and rhythms in the</b> …

Neuroscience

Tesla is in the middle of a huge debate about the future of driving

On one side is Morgan Stanley's lead auto analyst, Adam Jonas, who last week revisited his futuristic theory that individual ownership of cars is going away and that the "potential end of human driving" could be coming.<p>On the other side is an unlikely team of insurance analysts at Citi led by Todd …

Carsharing

The 51 Best Fantasy Series Ever Written

Whether you're a Swords and Sorcery type of fantasy reader, a fan of battles and betrayal, or you just want a few more goddamn elves in your life, there's something for you here. These are the truly great fantasy series written in the last 50 years.

The 100 best novels written in English: the full list

<b>1. The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (1678)</b><p>A story of a man in search of truth told with the simple clarity and beauty of Bunyan’s prose make this the ultimate English classic.<p><b>2. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (1719)</b><p>By the end of the 19th century, no book in English literary history had …

Literature

We are nearing peak bearishness in commodities

Commodities have been crushed in the last 5 years. Gold is down over 40%, silver is off 70%, copper is down 45%, oil is down 55% and the Bloomberg Commodity Index is down 60% from its 2008 peak.<p>We all know by now that many of the theories for owning commodities ended up being dead wrong. Anyone …

Investing

The Iraqi Army Is Too Exhausted to Fight

Iraq's army grows smaller by the day. Sectarian militants are picking up the slack.<p>The lightening seizure of the Iraqi city of Ramadi by the Islamic State doesn’t just represent the loss of one of the last government-held population centers in Sunni Muslims areas of the country, but it laid bare …

Islam

Putin is risking a stand-off with the IMF over a $3 billion loan to Ukraine

Under the terms of the original 2013 deal, negotiated with then President Viktor Yanukoych who fled the country last year following massive anti-government protests, Ukraine had to keep its national debt below 60% of GDP. That condition has now been clearly breached allowing Moscow to recall the …

Russia

Uncomfortably numb: The people who feel no pain

Researchers have identified a third gene that causes congenital insensitivity to pain when mutated<p>Being unable to feel pain may sound appealing, but it would be extremely hazardous to your health. Pain is, for most of us, a very unpleasant feeling, but it serves the important evolutionary purpose …

Mutations

Russia and Western nations staging rival air combat exercises

Russian President<p>Vladimir Putinordered four days of air combat readiness testing on Monday, the third major military exercise staged by the Kremlin in as many months.<p>The drills will involve 12,000 troops, 250 aircraft and nearly 700 artillery pieces and other heavy weaponry and include cruise …

EU Eastern Partnership summit will highlight failure of plan to check Russia

A summit in Riga this week is likely to highlight the failure of the EU’s flagship programme designed to entice six former Soviet states out of Moscow’s orbit and into the embrace of Brussels.<p>The Eastern Partnership scheme was set up in 2009 in response to Russian actions in Georgia and was meant …

Russia

I watch therefore I am: seven movies that teach us key philosophy lessons

How can we do the right thing?<br>Force Majeure<p>If you had lived in Germany in 1939, would you have helped protect Jews or gone along with their systematic extermination? If you had been an MP 10 years ago, would you have milked your expenses for what they were worth? And if you and your family faced a …

High Heels

New Zealand's rock star economy takes centre stage as currency climbs

Australians are going to have to get used to New Zealanders going on about how much better their economy is.<p>Paul Bloxham, the HSBC economist who first called New Zealand a rock star economy, says the New Zealand dollar is going to be strong for some time because the NZ economy is strong.<p>The New …

New Zealand

Sex differences and vulnerability: how the male-female divide affects health

An interview with controversial evolutionary psychologist Professor David Geary throws up questions about the role of gender in health and wellbeing<p>Recently, I met evolutionary psychologist Professor David Geary at the Wellcome Collection’s ‘Institute of Sexology’ exhibition. The exhibition focuses …

Psychology

Why We Act Irrationally: What Drives Our Senseless Habits

<i>James Clear writes about using behavioral science to master your habits and improve your health. His free guide, Transform Your Habits, has been downloaded more than 80,000 times. This post originally appeared on his blog.</i><p>It was 1977 and, although nobody knew it at the time, psychologist Ellen …

How Martin O'Malley Begins His Day: Prayer, Solitude And Some Very Non-Political Reading

NEW YORK -- He may be on the verge of seeking the world's most demanding job, but former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) prefers to begin his days with his mind about as far away as possible from the campaign trail.<p>"In the morning, I generally take time to pray and sometimes that's at Mass; other …

Russia is joining a Chinese-led development bank

"I'd like to inform you that Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken the decision that Russia will participate in the capital of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)," Shuvalov said at China's Boao Forum, quoted by RIA Novosti state news agency.<p>The Beijing-backed AIIB, unveiled in …

Russia

A new audio app claims to treat tinnitus

Tinnitus affects the ears but it originates in the brain. The condition, which causes ringing in the ears, is mainly triggered by age-related hearing loss and prolonged exposure to excessively loud noise. But neuroscientific studies reveal that tinnitus is a symptom of abnormal hyperactivity in the …

Panning Palin: Why conservative media are dismissing her 2016 prospects

Sarah Palin may be “seriously interested” in running for president, but the media — and especially the conservative media — are giving her a very cold reception.<p>First there’s the question of whether Palin really might get into the 2016 sweepstakes. I’m with the skeptics on this one: Palin hasn’t …

Republicans

Mysterious radio signal from space caught live for first time

Astronomers in Australia have picked up an “alien” radio signal from space for the first time as it occurred. The signal, or radio “burst”, was discovered on May 15, 2014, though it’s just being reported by the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. “The burst was identified within 10 …

Physics

Sarah Palin bemuses Republicans with rambling speech and talk of 2016 run

The former governor of Alaska delivered a ‘meandering and often bizarre’ speech to key Republicans that left many doubting her political viability<p>Iowa Republicans voiced scepticism on Monday over Sarah Palin’s claim to be contemplating a campaign for president in 2016, amid criticism of her unusual …

Government

London's $1 Billion Finance Startup TransferWise Is Just Like An Ancient Islamic Money Transfer System

It does this by not actually transferring money across borders — instead, it matches up payments with those going the opposite direction. So "your" money never actually leaves the country — it's just rerouted to someone who's being sent a similar amount by someone overseas. Your foreign recipient, …

Finance

FBI Agent Explains How Russia's Foreign Spy Operations Work

FBI agent Gregory Monaghan has charged the three alleged spies — Evgeny Buryakov, Igor Sporyshev, and Victor Podobnyy — with "willfully and knowingly" conspiring to commit an offense against the US as a member of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR).<p>Buryakov is in custody.<p>Monaghan, in a …

Russia

Oil Is Never Going To Reach $200, Not For Any Length Of Time At Least

We’ve two interesting announcements from various players in Opec today, one that the oil price might have hit bottom just at the moment and the second that oil might reach $200 at some point in the future. It’s possible that oil might have reached bottom: but the idea that oil will ever reach $200 …

Oil

Have We Found Alien Life?

Microbes that eat and breathe electricity have forced scientists to reimagine how life works—on this planet and others<p><i>This feature was originally published in the February 2015 issue of</i> Popular Science.<p>Kenneth Nealson is looking awfully sane for a man who’s basically just told me that he has a …

Biology