John Dyson

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26 Pictures That Will Make You Re-Evaluate Your Entire Existence

The universe, man... THE UNIVERSE.

Gravitational waves explained with a towel and an apple

How To Engineer Humans To Save The Planet

How about giving people patches that would make them allergic to meat?<p>Just in case you were looking for some ideas for your next dystopian novel… in a new feature, the BBC reports on ideas for combating anthropogenic climate change by engineering humans to use less resources.<p>How about giving people …

Wait But Why

Our career path is how we spend our time, how we support our lifestyles, how we make our impact, and even sometimes how we define our identity. Let’s …

The Biggest Organism on Earth

How to Move People with Integrity: The Art of Persuasion, Animated

<i>“Temperament, whether individual or collective, is not amenable to persuasion,”</i> Joseph Conrad wrote in his reflection on writing and the role of the artist. And yet it seems to be through our temperaments, not our rational deliberation, that we absorb so many of our impressions. But how can we …

Isaac Asimov on the Thrill of Lifelong Learning, Science vs. Religion, and the Role of Science Fiction in Advancing Society

Isaac Asimov was an extraordinary mind and spirit — the author of more than 400 science and science fiction books and a tireless advocate of space exploration, he also took great joy in the humanities (and once annotated Lord Byron’s epic poem “Don Juan”), championed humanism over religion, and …

The Hidden Brain: How Ocean Currents Explain Our Unconscious Social Biases

Biases often work in surreptitious ways — they sneak in through the backdoor of our conscience, our good-personhood, and our highest rational convictions, and lodge themselves between us and the world, between our imperfect humanity and our aspirational selves, between who we believe we are and how …

Grit and the Secret of Success

<i>“Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work,”</i> Chuck Close scoffed. <i>“A self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood,”</i> Tchaikovsky admonished. <i>“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too,”</i> Isabel Allende …

The Cosmic Accident of Life: Alan Lightman on Dark Energy, the Multiverse, and Why We Exist

Questions like why our world exists and what nothing is have occupied minds great and ordinary since the dawn of humanity, and yet for all our scientific progress, they continue to do so, yielding only hypotheses rather than concrete answers. But there is something immutably heartening in the …

How Our Minds Mislead Us: The Marvels and Flaws of Our Intuition

Every year, intellectual impresario and <i>Edge</i> editor <b>John Brockman</b> summons some of our era’s greatest thinkers and unleashes them on one provocative question, whether it’s the single most elegant theory of how the world works or the best way to enhance our cognitive toolkit. This year, he sets out on …

Einstein on Why We Are Alive

Given my soft spot for big thinkers’ answers to young people’s questions about life, I was thrilled when reader Dave Anderson shared the story of his mother’s exchange with none other than Albert Einstein. When Marion Block Anderson, an altogether exceptional woman, was a freshman at Oberlin …

Can I increase my brain power?

What happens when you attach several electrodes to your forehead, connect them via wires to a nine-volt battery and resistor, ramp up the current and send an electrical charge directly into your brain? Most people would be content just to guess, but last summer a 33-year-old from Alabama named …

The Science of Dreams and Why We Have Nightmares

<i>“The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind,”</i> Freud argued in his influential treatise <i>The Interpretation of Dreams</i> in 1900. <i>“The earth is heavy and opaque without dreams,”</i> Anaïs Nin wrote in her diary in 1940. <i>“In the olden days, people</i> …

The Baloney Detection Kit: Carl Sagan’s Rules for Bullshit-Busting and Critical Thinking

<b>Carl Sagan</b> (November 9, 1934–December 20, 1996) was many things — a cosmic sage, voracious reader, hopeless romantic, and brilliant philosopher. But above all, he endures as our era’s greatest patron saint of reason and critical thinking, a master of the vital balance between skepticism and …

Does Body Language Shape Who You Are?

<i>Part 5 of the</i> TED Radio Hour <i>episode</i> Spoken And Unspoken.<p><b>About Amy Cuddy's TEDTalk</b><p>Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how "power posing" can affect our brains, and might even have an impact on our chances for …

The Universe in a Nutshell: Michio Kaku on the Physics of Everything

How did humanity go from a tribe governed by superstition to a species on the hunt for the Higgs Boson and the deepest secrets of the cosmos? In <b>The Universe in a Nutshell</b>, theoretical physicist and prolific author <b>Michio Kaku</b> — who has previously helped us unravel the mysteries of time — explores …

The Psychology of Self-Control

Ever since psychology godfather William James first expounded the crucial role of habit in how we live and who we become, modern psychology has sought to figure out how we can rewire our bad habits, maximize our willpower, and use habits to optimize our productivity. And yet, if the market for …

The Psychology of Getting Unstuck: How to Overcome the “OK Plateau” of Performance & Personal Growth

<i>“Any sequence of mental action which has been frequently repeated tends to perpetuate itself,”</i> William James wrote in his influential meditation on habit, <i>”so that we find ourselves automatically prompted to think, feel, or do what we have been before accustomed to think, feel, or do, under like</i> …

Scientists and Writers Answer Children’s Simple, Surprisingly Profound Questions About How Life Works

In 2012, I wrote about a lovely book titled <i>Big Questions from Little People & Simple Answers from Great Minds</i>, in which some of today’s greatest scientists, writers, and philosophers answer kids’ most urgent questions, deceptively simple yet profound. It went on to become one of the year’s best …

The Secret Power Behind Why We Pick Crowded Restaurants Over Empty Ones

When tapped effectively, “Social Proof” can be used to crank up business, online and off.<p>When you see two cafes side by side, and one is packed with lively people and the other one is empty, which one would you go to for a coffee? Why?<p>Most people will go to the packed cafe. But what if the empty …

How Your Thoughts Create Your Brain | Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement

Of course you know that your thoughts are generated by your brain. But you may not have considered that in many very real ways, your thoughts <i>create</i> …

Carl Sagan on the Meaning of Life

<b>Carl Sagan</b> was not only one of the greatest scientific minds in modern history, he was also an unrelenting humanist with profound insight on spirituality, psychology, and even literature. From <i>The Meaning of Life: Reflections in Words and Pictures on Why We Are Here</i> (<i>public library</i>) — the same …