Let’s say time travel is possible. Let’s say you have access to a time machine. And let’s say that time machine can take you back to any era in the past. Where would you go? What would you do? And why?[Read more…]
If you had access to all the data in the world, what would you do to make the world a better place?
That question sounds hypothetical, but it might not stay that way for long.[Read more…]
“Whatever stance they promote,” Frances Spalding wrote in the Guardian, “be it pompous or playful or merely pleasing, self-portraits have much to say. They can show success or indulge in self-mockery; advertise a new aesthetic or celebrate a marriage.”
You might have thought that self-portraits were too simple to say all of that. They’re pictures of yourself. What else can you say?
A lot, it turns out.[Read more…]
You see thousands of colors every day, and most of them were picked for a specific purpose. For example, would you pay as much attention to a McDonald’s sign, or even quickly recognize it as a McDonald’s sign, without the company’s signature bright red and bright yellow?[Read more…]
Space stations with everything you need. Colonies on Mars. A space elevator.
The creative people of this world have envisioned tons of different ways we might live on other worlds. From well-known sci-fi stories like Star Trek to the designs of scientists (including ideas like O’Neil cylinders), they have pictured different futures. But we want to know what you see when you imagine the future of space travel. [Read more…]
This image is called the duck-rabbit. It’s a famous example of an optical illusion called an “ambiguous image.” Looked at from one angle, it’s a duck. (Those two things jutting out to the left make up its beak.) From another angle, it’s a rabbit. (The duck’s beak becomes the rabbit’s ears.)
One of the most fascinating things about the duck-rabbit is the way it switches once you see it as the other thing. It’s a philosophical problem that a famous Austrian philosopher named Ludwig Wittgenstein discussed in a book called Philosophical Investigations. It’s almost magical, the way your mind can see the same object as something new. [Read more…]
Writing in the Washington Post, Elizabeth Bastos explains that she lives “in a landscape of strip mini-malls” where “it’s challenging to feel connected to land. Let alone to The Land.”
And yet Bastos was still able to go exploring in the little nature near her home to find interesting things. “We went to the abandoned parking lot near the dead mall and started foraging for dandelion greens, which make a delicious, bitter spring salad,” she explained.
Bastos proves an important point: there is nature everywhere, and if you know where to look, you can always find something interesting. [Read more…]
The National Human Genome Research Institute says that “human beings are 99.9 percent identical in their genetic makeup.” That means that 99.9 percent of your DNA is identical to the DNA of every other person you know—and the other 7.4 billion people you don’t know. Even more amazingly, your DNA is 99 percent identical to chimps and bonobos and 98 percent to gorillas, according to Scientific American.
Of course, there’s a big difference between you and a chimp. And there are big differences between you and the other people you know. You have different color hair and skin, you’re different heights, your eyes are different colors. And then there’s all the things you can’t see, like diseases. That .1 percent makes a big difference. So how can you start to understand it?