How disruptions happen

Major disruptions in world history follow a clear pattern. What can upheavals of the past tell us about our own future? David Potter is Francis W Kelsey Collegiate Professor of Greek and Roman History and Arthur F Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan. His books include Constantine the Emperor (2013), Theodora: Actress, Empress, Saint (2016), The Origin of Empire: Rome from the Republic to Hadrian (2019), and Disruption: Why Things Change (2021). On 3 April 1917, a crowd gathered to meet a train arriving from Helsinki at Petrograd’s Finland Station. The train carried Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. He greeted his audience with a speech calling for the overthrow … Continue reading How disruptions happen

Ask Ethan: How long until our calendar needs replacing?

KEY TAKEAWAYS Every year, Earth’s rotational period changes slightly, and over long enough times, so will the number of days in a year.  Even with everything we’ve done to accurately compute those changes, our modern calendar will only last a few millennia more before further changes are needed.  Eventually, leap years will go away entirely, and then we’ll start needing to remove days. In time, even total solar eclipses will cease. Even with leap years and long-term planning, our calendar won’t be good forever. Here’s why, and how to fix it. by Ethan Siegel With every year that passes, we … Continue reading Ask Ethan: How long until our calendar needs replacing?

The world as we know it is ending. Why are we still at work?

From the pandemic to climate change, Americans are still expected to work no matter what happens. By Anna North   For a moment in early 2020, it seemed like we might get a break from capitalism. A novel coronavirus was sweeping the globe, and leaders and experts recommended that the US pay millions of people to stay home until the immediate crisis was over. These people wouldn’t work. They’d hunker down, take care of their families, and isolate themselves to keep everyone safe. With almost the whole economy on pause, the virus would stop spreading, and Americans could soon go back to normalcy with … Continue reading The world as we know it is ending. Why are we still at work?

The Past, Present, and Future of Poop

BY JENNY MORBER IN OSAKA, JAPAN, in the early-1700s, neighboring villages fought over rights to city residents’ excrement. Much of Japan’s soil, sandy and poor in nutrients, produced feeble crops and supported few animals, so farmers depended on human fertilizer to grow food. And they were willing to pay for it. Often in exchange for a fee paid to each household, farmers collected what was called night soil at regular intervals to fashion into fertile compost. Poop was precious. Defecating at a friend’s house was considered an act of generosity — a gift. Landlords earned extra income by retaining collection rights from … Continue reading The Past, Present, and Future of Poop

Cancers are in an evolutionary battle with treatments – evolutionary game theory could tip the advantage to medicine

Author Anuraag Bukkuri PhD Student in Integrated Mathematical Oncology, University of South Florida Disclosure statementAnuraag Bukkuri receives funding from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program under Grant No. 1746051. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Cancer was the second leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020. Although billions of dollars have been poured into cancer research, the results are still disappointing for many patients who pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to extend their lives for just a few more … Continue reading Cancers are in an evolutionary battle with treatments – evolutionary game theory could tip the advantage to medicine

Artificial Intelligence Will Kill Capitalism

Technology Will Kill Your Job. And it will happen sooner than you think… by Laurent Alexandre -OpEd- PARIS — For a long time, artificial intelligence was little more than science fiction — now it’s now just a matter of time until it becomes reality. The boom of computing capabilities have seen the power of servers multiplied a billion times over in the span of just 31 years, making it likely that an artificial intelligence superior to our own will emerge in the coming decades.The GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) Internet giants, as well as IBM, have all been investing massively in the … Continue reading Artificial Intelligence Will Kill Capitalism

Heritage at sea

Must we simply accept the loss of beloved buildings and cities to the floods and rising seas of the climate crisis? Thijs Weststeijn is professor in the Department of History and Art History at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, where he chairs the research project ‘Histories of Global Netherlandish Art, 1550-1750’. His latest book is Foreign Devils and Philosophers: Cultural Encounters between the Chinese, the Dutch, and Other Europeans, 1590-1800 (2020). Edited byMarina Benjamin As an Amsterdam-born art historian, for the past three decades I’ve enjoyed guiding students and other visitors along the concentric canals that cup the city’s 17th-century historic centre … Continue reading Heritage at sea

Triggering the Body’s Defenses to Fight Cancer

Experiments once considered crazy are now helping scientists attack tumors. BY LINA ZELDOVICH One day in 2010, when oncologist Paul Muizelaar operated on a patient with glioblastoma—a brain tumor infamous for its deathly toll—he did something shocking. First, he cut the skull open and carved out as much of the tumor as he could. But before he replaced the piece of skull to close the wound, he soaked it in a solution containing Enterobacter aerogenes,1 bacteria found in feces. For the next month, the patient lay in a coma in an intensive care unit battling the bacteria he was infected with—and then … Continue reading Triggering the Body’s Defenses to Fight Cancer

The Scientists Are Terrified

A survey of the world’s top climate researchers shows a stark finding: Most expect catastrophic levels of heating and damage soon—vey soon. ByBrian Kahn A new Nature survey shows a majority of the world’s leading climate scientists expect “catastrophic” impacts in their lifetimes driven by rising greenhouse gas emissions. Brilliant researchers, they’re just like you and me—but with more data, which actually makes the new survey even more unnerving. The feature from Nature, published on Monday, involved querying Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change researchers. These are the same folks who put out a major report earlier this year warning that this is essentially the most consequential … Continue reading The Scientists Are Terrified

Quantum computers: Eight ways quantum computing is going to change the world

Businesses are already exploring the future potential of quantum computers, and some industries anticipate big changes ahead. By Daphne Leprince-Ringuet The world’s biggest companies are now launching quantum computing programs, and governments are pouring money into quantum research. For systems that have yet prove useful, quantum computers are certainly garnering lots of attention. The reason is that quantum computers, although still far from having reached maturity, are expected to eventually usher in a whole new era of computing — one in which the hardware is no longer a constraint when resolving complex problems, meaning that some calculations that would take years or … Continue reading Quantum computers: Eight ways quantum computing is going to change the world