But, Seriously, Where Are the Aliens?

BETTMANN / GETTY Humanity may be as few as 10 years away from discovering evidence of extraterrestrial life. Once we do, it will only deepen the mystery of where alien intelligence might be hiding. by DEREK THOMPSON Enrico Fermi was an architect of the atomic bomb, a father of radioactivity research, and a Nobel Prize–winning scientist who contributed to breakthroughs in quantum mechanics and theoretical physics. But in the popular imagination, his name is most commonly associated with one simple, three-word question, originally meant as a throwaway joke to amuse a group of scientists discussing UFOs at the Los Alamos … Continue reading But, Seriously, Where Are the Aliens?

Little Panic: A Literary Laboratory Exploring What It Is Like to Live in the Stranglehold of Anxiety and What It Takes to Break Free

Art from Emotional Anatomy: The Structure of Experience “This terrible truth binds us all: fear there’s a single, unattainable, correct way to be human.” BY MARIA POPOVA “Life and Reality are not things you can have for yourself unless you accord them to all others,” Alan Watts wrote in the early 1950s, nearly a quarter century before Thomas Nagel’s landmark essay “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” unlatched the study of other consciousnesses and seeded the disorienting awareness that other beings — “beings who walk other spheres,” to borrow Whitman’s wonderful term — experience this world we share in ways thoroughly alien to our own. Today, we know … Continue reading Little Panic: A Literary Laboratory Exploring What It Is Like to Live in the Stranglehold of Anxiety and What It Takes to Break Free

Are You a Shitty Dad If You Just Don’t Like Babies?

by Tracy Moore Donald Trump’s disdain for childrearing speaks to a problem afflicting dads everywhere—and why it still persists When I found out I was pregnant, I was shocked and alarmed: I’d spent the weekend at the lake, bouncing on a Jet Ski, drinking Miller Lite and shooting off illegal fireworks. I read the pregnancy test’s bright-blue plus sign while sitting on the toilet smoking a cigarette. When the baby was born, I was flooded with love, but I had no idea what to do with her. I bumbled through it as best as I could, praying for the day when … Continue reading Are You a Shitty Dad If You Just Don’t Like Babies?

Composing Your Thoughts

RUBIN’S VASE: This image, developed by psychologist Edgar Rubin, is a famous example of visual ambiguity. Music that upsets expectations is what makes your gray matter sing. BY JONATHAN BERGER ILLUSTRATION BY GÉRARD DUBOIS 1. Unshaven and one bit short To death and taxes, Benjamin Franklin’s binary list of life’s certainties, add the expectation that this six-note sequence: Will continue with this: Although we ponder ways to avoid or evade Franklin’s list of unavoidable events, we generally accept this more benign certainty as immutable. To demonstrate, consider this: The penultimate note of the tune generates such strong and specific anticipation that you … Continue reading Composing Your Thoughts

Your Brain on Depression

image edited by Fernando Kaskais Video by Emma Allen Depression is a multifaceted and insidious disorder, nearly as complex as the brain itself. As research continues to suggest, the onset of depression can be attributed to an interplay of the many elements that make us human—namely, our genetics, the structure and chemistry of our brains, and our lived experience. Second only, perhaps, to the confounding mechanics of anesthesia, depression is the ultimate mind-body problem; understanding how it works could unlock the mysteries of human consciousness. Emma Allen, a visual artist, and Dr. Daisy Thompson-Lake, a clinical neuroscientist, are fascinated by the physical processes … Continue reading Your Brain on Depression

What is wrong with tolerance

Jewish Haim Addad posing with his Arabic neighbour near Djerba, Tunisia, May 2008. Photo by Patrick Zachmann/Magnum The ideal of religious tolerance has crippling flaws. It’s time to embrace a civic philosophy of reciprocity by Simon Rabinovitch is an assistant professor of history at Boston University. He is the author of Jewish Rites, National Rites: Nationalism and Autonomy in Late Imperial and Revolutionary Russia (2015) and the forthcoming Jewish Collective Rights: Religious Liberty and Modern States. Edited by Sam Haselby The purpose of religious tolerance has always been, and remains, to maintain the power and purity of the dominant religion in a given state. Most dominant … Continue reading What is wrong with tolerance

Here’s Why Female Viagra Won’t Work… Again

by Magdalene Taylor The market for products that claim to make you horny is centuries old. Everything from Oysters, to herbs like ashwagandha and maca, to alcohol (but of course) have long been hailed as ways to make both sexes want to have sex. Their mileage varies, however, in terms of effectiveness. Until, that is, Viagra came along in 1998 and fixed that problem. Well, at least for men. For women, the search for a magic pill that inspires arousal has been more complicated. Big Pharma first took interest in sexuality in the 1950s, when frigidity and impotence were added to the first Diagnostic … Continue reading Here’s Why Female Viagra Won’t Work… Again