Science & Math

Nuclear power plant not included

Now that the space race has been called off for lack of interest, great power competition of the peaceful variety has shifted to another kind of big iron: the development of the world’s fastest supercomputer. Although initially dominated by the

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Global salvation by pop can

“Within 6 hours deserts receive more energy from the sun than humankind consumes within a year. An area of around the size of a living room, covered by mirrors for concentrating solar thermal power plants, would suffice to cover the

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Multitasking and the world brain

Given the uncountably immense number of events happening in the world, and the almost as uncountably immense number of journalists and writers covering and commenting on events, one might expect an equally diverse range of articles and topics to appear

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What the turtle stands on

There’s an old but apocryphal anecdote (or very funny joke, if your sense of humour is similar to mine) about a scientist or philosopher (in some accounts Bertrand Russell, in others William James) giving a lecture on modern cosmology. As

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Chronic diseases, acute challenges

Guest post by Zach Kuehner It is often assumed that chronic diseases – heart disease, cancers, diabetes, arthritis – are the special afflictions of the developed world. They are seen as diseases of wealth: the price we pay for affluence

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Teaching electric eagles to soar

Ever since the mythical Icarus and his father Daedelus attempted to fly by affixing bird feathers to their arms with wax, humankind has systematically used nature as a model in its quest for the secret of flight — an approach

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Too much evidence, too little judgment?

When confronted with the complexity and ambiguity of disease or even of every-day sickness, each of us as patients could hardly be blamed for taking comfort in an approach to medicine that is advertised as scientific, rational, and founded on

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Lots of sex please, we’re apes

Guest post by Zach Kuehner It is no secret. Countless marriages end in divorce. Some statistics estimate that more than half of all marriages eventually fail. It is clear that something is wrong, but every day, starry-eyed sweethearts rush down

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Rounding the bases – really

One of the funniest moments in Arthur Hiller’s 1979 comedy, The In-Laws, comes when the fathers of the groom (Peter Falk) and of the bride (Alan Arkin) come under sudden sniper fire at a Central American landing strip. Arkin sensibly

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There is no simple

Keep it simple, stupid. “KISS” is one of the most commonly referred to principles in modern business, and its spirit permeates everything from the carefully-considered design of Apple’s sleek user interfaces to the unchecked frustration of a customer returning a

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Chaotic evolution: genes first, climate second?

With the recent death of pioneering mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot — founder of fractal geometry and investigator of the associated idea that very simple formulae can produce very complex results — it seems uncannily coincidental that the New Scientist happened to

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Pearls from a Darwinian sea

Darwin enthusiasts, fans of the history of science, and retired secret policemen will all enjoy rifling through the treasures of the Darwin Correspondence Project, which was first set up in 1974 by science historian the late Frederick Burkhardt as an

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