Nicholas Osborne

292 Flips | 1 Magazine | 5 Likes | 7 Following | 413 Followers | @Nooster61 | Teacher

The Biologists Who Want to Overhaul Evolution

A half-century’s worth of scientific discoveries since the last major update to evolutionary theory has some researchers pushing for a paradigm shift.<p>Kevin Laland looked out across the meeting room at a couple hundred people gathered for a conference on the future of evolutionary biology. A …

Can Quantum Physics Explain Consciousness?

A new approach to a once-farfetched theory is making it plausible that the brain functions like a quantum computer.<p>The mere mention of “quantum consciousness” makes most physicists cringe, as the phrase seems to evoke the vague, insipid musings of a New Age guru. But if a new hypothesis proves to …

The Only Way is Ethics: For the sake of freedom of speech, there can never be a right not to be offended

One of the great joys of language is its evolution, which has perhaps never been as rapid as it is today. The development of new technologies has …

Scientific Studies: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

If you think more celebrities are dying young this year, you’re wrong – it’s just a trick of the mind

Has this been a particularly bad year for celebrity deaths? The answer seems obvious: David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Terry Wogan, Paul Daniels, Victoria …

Adrienne Rich on What a Rare Blue Bird Taught Her About the Confluence of Art, Science, and Politics in Human Life

In praise of the moments when “a piece of the universe is revealed as if for the first time.”<p>A great many brilliant creators can point to a single formative experience — an epiphany-like encounter with truth, a momentary glimpse of beauty in its highest form — that furnished a certain understanding …

History 1971: One event, several histories

Most people, perhaps everyone, was affected by the events of the Liberation War in one way or another. But the process of recollection and …

Careless people are skewing the results of scientific studies. Can they be stopped?

Surveys are key tools of social science research. But sometimes they’re tainted by responses from subjects who fail to follow the instructions they’ve been given.<p>Researchers looking into this problem have confirmed what the more conscientious among us have long suspected: Habitually careless people …

Psychology

The Most Beautiful Theory: Physicist Carlo Rovelli on the Aesthetic Enchantment and Scientific Impact of Einstein’s Relativity

“Ever since we discovered that Earth is round… we have understood that reality is not as it appears to us: every time we glimpse a new aspect of it, it is a deeply emotional experience.”<p>In what remains the most beautiful love letter to the mesmerism of mathematics, James Joseph Sylvester wrote that …

How Can We Teach Morals To Robots? By Telling Them Stories

AI's Fables<p>Read a robot a story, and you will be known as a weirdo. Teach a robot to read, and you might prevent a robot apocalypse.<p>At least that's the quixotic idea behind Quixote, a technique developed by Mark Riedl, director of the Entertainment Intelligence Lab at the Georgia Institute of …

Psychology's Replication Crisis Has a Silver Lining

It’s an opportunity for the field to lead.<p>There is a crisis in psychology. It’s not those rare cases of outright fraud, as when the social psychologist Diedrik Stapel simply made up the results of dozens of experiments and published them in top journals. The more serious problem—the one that keeps …

Are human beings innately violent? The oldest massacre ever discovered adds more proof

Some had their skulls crushed. Others were struck with arrows in their necks and heads. Among those killed was a pregnant woman with her hands and feet bound.<p>Researchers recently unearthed the 10,000-year-old remains of 27 people near Lake Turkana in northern Kenya and this brutal scene is a …

Anthropology

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Genius at Play: A Brilliant Mathematician on Tinkering, Thinkering, and the Art of Being a Professional Nonunderstander

Anatomy of thought at the fault line of invention and discovery.<p><i>“Mathematical Science,”</i> wrote Ada Lovelace in contemplating the nature of the imagination, <i>“is the language of the unseen relations between things.”</i> Few have mastered that language and transmuted it into Lovelace’s “poetical science” …

Beloved Poet and Philosopher Kahlil Gibran on the Seeming Self vs. the Authentic Self and the Liberating Madness of Casting Our Masks Aside

“I have found both freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.”<p>In 1918, the great Lebanese-American artist, poet, and philosopher <b>Kahlil Gibran</b> (January 6, 1883–April 10, 1931) published a collection of parables and poems titled <b>The</b> …

From whong to quingel: the science of funny words | David Shariatmadari

Some made up words, like probble and dolsimp, are more amusing than others. Funniest of all are the likes of clunt, focky and dongl. Why?<p>Without scrolling down, have a think about which word in these pairs you find funnier.

The 11 Most Beautiful Mathematical Equations

1 of 13<p>Introduction<p>Mathematical equations aren't just useful — many are quite beautiful. And many scientists admit they are often fond of particular …

Physics

Why Do Most Languages Have So Few Words for Smells?

And why do these two hunter-gatherer groups have so many?<p>Describe a banana. It's yellow, perhaps with some green edges. When peeled, it has a smooth, soft, mushy texture. It tastes sweet, maybe a little creamy.<p>And it smells like... well, it smells like a banana.<p>Every sense has its own “lexical …

Language

McDonald's China serves gray burgers to customers — on purpose

McDonald’s China unveiled a hamburger with a pebbled gray bun. Dubbed the Modern China Burger, the sandwich will be available in most Chinese …

History is getting its revenge on economics

In the early 20th century, economics looked a lot like history.<p>The so-called German Historical School of Economics emerged in the 1800s in German universities, where many early US economists received their training. The historical approach stressed the importance of understanding the cultural, …

Economics

The Gentle Giant: Oliver Sacks and the Art of Choosing Empathy Over Vengeance

An existential lesson gleaned from a brush with death and foolishness.<p><i>“Compassion,”</i> Karen Armstrong wrote in her stirring meditation on the true meaning of the Golden Rule, <i>“asks us to look into our own hearts, discover what gives us pain, and then refuse, under any circumstance whatsoever, to</i> …

Literature

Watch These Colorful Structures Come to Life Using Math

Iterative method is a term in computational mathematics—in the process of finding the root of an equation, iterative method generates successive approximate solutions. Digital artist Leonardoworks believes math and physics could explain human life, perception, and “even the feelings we cannot …

The Mountain View of the Mind: Simone Weil on the Purest and Most Fertile Form of Thought

“Our thought should be empty, waiting, not seeking anything, but ready to receive in its naked truth the object that is to penetrate it.”<p><b>Simone Weil</b> (February 3, 1909–August 24, 1943) is both among the twentieth century’s most magnificent minds and its greatest cultural oddities. Born into a family …

War

How to Plan a Crusade by Christopher Tyerman review – the role of reason in medieval religious wars

‘Medieval’ is often associated with barbarism and bigotry, but this fascinating study suggests it should refer to sophisticated propaganda and meticulous preparation<p>This book opens disarmingly with a novice historian stumbling through a lecture, “wondering why he had ever begun”. He is saved by his …

Insane or Inspired: Which Way Does the Pop Culture Moral Compass Point?

Movies, television, music, novels, and art are not just created for description and catharsis, but to also help us wrap our heads around the …

A World Without Scent

“I knew something was wrong when I took a bite of a falafel sandwich and it hung in my mouth like tasteless cardboard.”<p>Nine years ago, on an April morning in San Francisco, I awoke to a concussion that seemed to silence everything around me. I noticed half-painted canvases lying haphazardly around …

No one could describe the color 'blue' until modern times

It's about the way that humans see the world and how until we have a way to describe something, even something so fundamental as a color, we may not even notice that it's there.<p>Until relatively recently in human history, "blue" didn't exist, not in the way we think of it.<p>As the delightful Radiolab …