Climate Change Is Turning Us Into Sleep-Deprived Zombies

Sleepless in Seattle… and the rest of the world. by Miriam Fauzia Not getting enough sleep? Well, bad news: Climate change might just make things much, much worse. In a new study published Friday in the journal One Earth, researchers in Denmark have found that as the planet warms due to climate change, how much sleep we get a night may tank because of how poorly our bodies respond to heat. This reduction in such an essential bodily function could have an even bigger negative impact on people vulnerable to heat, like older adults, or those living in low-income areas and countries. “In … Continue reading Climate Change Is Turning Us Into Sleep-Deprived Zombies

Are you a spectator to reality? Or are you its creator?

KEY TAKEAWAYS If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, it really does not make a sound. What you experience as sound is constructed in your brain.   You cannot experience the world, or even your own body, objectively.  By seeking out new experiences, your brain teaches itself to craft new meaning. Signals from the environment, such as those detected by your sense organs, have no inherent psychological meaning. Your brain creates the meaning. Lisa Feldman Barrett IN PARTNERSHIP WITH John Templeton Foundation This year’s World Chess qualifying tournament brought a new twist: the heart … Continue reading Are you a spectator to reality? Or are you its creator?

No Two Human Brains Are Alike

The uniqueness of each mind is written in its ever-changing circuitry. BY WILLIAM A. HARRIS The brains of human beings are different from those of every other species of animal, because all species’ brains have been tuned to their lifestyles through millions of years of evolution. A spider’s brain is geared to weaving webs and catching flies, a fish’s brain is tuned for a life in the water, and a human brain is geared to human affairs. But what mental functions separate us most from other animals? What makes us human? Answering this question is a continuous quest of philosophy, … Continue reading No Two Human Brains Are Alike

Space Is an Ecosystem Like Any Other. And It’s in Peril.

Artificial satellites, thousands of which now clutter low Earth orbit, have essentially become an invasive species. BY THOMAS LEWTON OUTER SPACE isn’t what most people would think of as an ecosystem. Its barren and frigid void isn’t exactly akin to the verdant canopies of a rainforest or to the iridescent shoals that swim among coral cities. But if we are to become better stewards of the increasingly frenzied band of orbital space above our atmosphere, a shift to thinking of it as an ecosystem — as part of an interconnected system of living things interacting with their physical environment — may be … Continue reading Space Is an Ecosystem Like Any Other. And It’s in Peril.

Orgasm gap: The insidious reason women have fewer orgasms than men

It’s the clitoris, stupid! KEY TAKEAWAYS Heterosexual men have far more orgasms during partnered sex than heterosexual women, resulting in a significant pleasure disparity.  New research suggests that the explanation for the gap is simple: Men don’t take the time to stimulate women’s clitorises. The clitoris is the primary anatomical source of female sexual pleasure.  The reasons for this inattention are more complicated. It seems that cultural norms around gender place the focus on men’s pleasure and vaginal sex while downplaying women’s desire for their own pleasure. by Ross Pomeroy There exists a significant “orgasm gap” between heterosexual women and … Continue reading Orgasm gap: The insidious reason women have fewer orgasms than men

How psychopathy might be an evolutionary adaptation

Instead of a mental illness, some research suggests that psychopathy — in moderation — is a reasonable life strategy. KEY TAKEAWAYS It might seem obvious that psychopathy is harmful. But there is some reason to believe psychopathy, at least in moderation, might be a reasonable evolutionary adaptation.  To evaluate whether something is a mental disorder, it helps to understand what causes disorders in the first place.  A recent study explored whether psychopathy is associated with physical telltale signs such as handedness. The results were not conclusive, but they do add to a growing body of research supporting the possibility that psychopathy … Continue reading How psychopathy might be an evolutionary adaptation

The power of shit

Our excrement is a natural, renewable and sustainable resource – if only we can overcome our visceral disgust of it Lina Zeldovich is a journalist and author. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Scientific American and Undark, among others. She is the author of The Other Dark Matter: The Science and Business of Turning Waste into Wealth and Health (2021). She lives in New York City. Every fall when the grey sky over Kazan swelled with dark heavy clouds so full of water that the rain never stopped until it turned to snow, my grandfather prepped our small family farm for the … Continue reading The power of shit

Unlocking the Mysteries of Pain

In “Song of Our Scars,” physician Haider Warraich surveys the science and history of pain, and our many misconceptions. BY EMILY CATANEO IF YOU’VE VISITED a doctor’s office anytime in the past five decades, after you’ve had your blood pressure taken and your weight measured, you’ve probably been asked that seemingly innocuous question: “Are you in any pain?” “Are you in any pain,” and the 1-to-10 pain scale, have become part and parcel of American health care. But does it make sense to reduce pain to a yes-or-no binary, or a number on a scale? Haider Warraich, a physician and Harvard Medical … Continue reading Unlocking the Mysteries of Pain

Beer and spirits have more detrimental effects on the waistline and on cardiovascular disease risk than red or white wine

Researchers are working to tease apart how various alcohol types contribute to weight gain and disease risk.  Author Brittany Larsen Ph.D. Candidate in Neuroscience & Graduate Assistant, Iowa State University Disclosure statement Brittany Larsen does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. The big idea Drinking beer and spirits is linked to elevated levels of visceral fat – the harmful type of fat that is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and other health … Continue reading Beer and spirits have more detrimental effects on the waistline and on cardiovascular disease risk than red or white wine

Nature does not care

Too many nature writers descend into poetic self-absorption instead of the sharp-eyed realism the natural world deserves Richard Smyth writes features, reviews and comment pieces for publications including The Guardian, The Times Literary Supplement and New Statesman, among others. He is also a crossword setter, a cartoonist and an author whose books include the novel The Woodcock (2021) and the history An Indifference of Birds (2020). Iworry, sometimes, that knowledge is falling out of fashion – that in the field in which I work, nature writing, the multitudinous nonfictions of the more-than-human world, facts have been devalued; knowing stuff is no longer enough. Marc Hamer, a British writer … Continue reading Nature does not care