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.

Prolonged exposure to magnetic fields — high voltage power lines, electric blankets and other appliances — linked to a type of childhood leukemia: Study

By Dr. Gracelyn Santos A recent sudy has found that prolonged exposure to magnetic fields is linked to childhood leukemia. Examples of sources of magnetic electromagnetic fields include high voltage power lines, electric blankets and other appliances. The Environmental Health Trust, a scientific think tank focused on public health and prevention, highlighted a recent systematic review and meta-analysis published in Reviews on Environmental Health. The reviewconcludes that prolonged exposure to magnetic field electromagnetic fields are linked to a type of childhood leukemia. Children can be exposed to magnetic fields at the levels studied in the paper when they sleep near sources such as electric blankets, … Continue reading Prolonged exposure to magnetic fields — high voltage power lines, electric blankets and other appliances — linked to a type of childhood leukemia: Study

The problem with social media is not content but its distortion of reality

Social media distorts the reality of the public sphere. KEY TAKEAWAYS Social media has damaged society. If you ask most people to pinpoint the problem, they will focus on social media content.  The real problem is that social media distorts our perceptions of the public sphere. By targeting users with droves of content meant to resonate specifically with them, it causes us to create a false mental model of society.  We should push for transparency in targeting. Platforms need to clearly disclose the demographic characteristics of the exposed population when targeting us with any piece of narrowly distributed content. by Louis … Continue reading The problem with social media is not content but its distortion of reality

Future evolution: from looks to brains and personality, how will humans change in the next 10,000 years?

Discussions of human evolution are usually backward looking, as if the greatest triumphs and challenges were in the distant past. by Nicholas R. Longrich READER QUESTION: If humans don’t die out in a climate apocalypse or asteroid impact in the next 10,000 years, are we likely to evolve further into a more advanced species than what we are at the moment? Harry Bonas, 57, Nigeria Humanity is the unlikely result of 4 billion years of evolution. From self-replicating molecules in Archean seas, to eyeless fish in the Cambrian deep, to mammals scurrying from dinosaurs in the dark, and then, finally, improbably, … Continue reading Future evolution: from looks to brains and personality, how will humans change in the next 10,000 years?

Mind of its own: Will “general AI” be like an alien invasion?

KEY TAKEAWAYS According to surveys, approximately half of artificial intelligence experts believe that general artificial intelligence will emerge by 2060.  General artificial intelligence (also called AGI) describes an artificial intelligence that’s able to understand or learn any intellectual task that a human being can perform.  Such an intelligence would be unlike anything humans have ever encountered, and it may pose significant dangers. by Louis Rosenberg An alien species is headed toward earth. Many experts predict it will get here within 20 years, while others suggest it may take a little longer. Either way, there is little doubt it will arrive before … Continue reading Mind of its own: Will “general AI” be like an alien invasion?

Sonic Hieroglyphics and Acoustic X-Ray Vision: The Fascinating Science of How Dolphins and Whales Communicate

How Victorian astronomy helped decode the secret language of the seas. BY MARIA POPOVA “Words are events, they do things, change things… they feed energy back and forth and amplify it,” Ursula K. Le Guin wrote in her uncommon ode to the magic of real communication. “They feed understanding or emotion back and forth and amplify it.” For millennia, we have considered language — the magic-box of words — the hallmark of our species. Only in the last blink of evolutionary time have we begun to override our self-referential nature and consider the possibility that other types of channels might carry … Continue reading Sonic Hieroglyphics and Acoustic X-Ray Vision: The Fascinating Science of How Dolphins and Whales Communicate

The Trouble with Brain Scans

An aspiring cognitive scientist faces the sketchy truth about fMRI. BY KELSEY ICHIKAWA One autumn afternoon in the bowels of UC Berkeley’s Li Ka Shing Center, I was looking at my brain. I had just spent 10 minutes inside the 3 Tesla MRI scanner, the technical name for a very expensive, very high maintenance, very magnetic brain camera. Lying on my back inside the narrow tube, I had swallowed my claustrophobia and let myself be enveloped in darkness and a cacophony of foghorn-like bleats. At the time I was a research intern at UC Berkeley’s Neuroeconomics Lab. That was the … Continue reading The Trouble with Brain Scans

The Cost of Engaging With the Miserable

Were we always this lonely and embittered? By Charlie Warzel About the author: Charlie Warzel is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and the author of Galaxy Brain, a newsletter about the internet and big ideas. Every morning, I wake up and grab my doom machine. My phone is a piece of revolutionary technology that puts the entire world a scroll away, its every pixel an industrial miracle. It’s also a cataclysm-delivery device. I roll over and click the blue “f” logo to watch older friends and relatives grow angry and entrenched in their politics. I click on Twitter and drown in a torrent of terrible news delivered … Continue reading The Cost of Engaging With the Miserable

Trolls be gone

Anonymous users generate most toxic abuse and conspiracy theories online. The right to be anonymous should be curtailed Stephen Kinsella is founder of Clean Up the Internet, and a competition lawyer with a longstanding interest in human rights, digital technology, and democracy. He lives in Stroud, UK. We have come a long way from the optimism that surrounded the internet in the early 1990s. As Tim Berners-Lee has remarked several times, there was a ‘utopian’ view of its potential to democratise news and reinforce social cohesion. Indeed, only 10 years ago, we were celebrating the role that online communications played in the Arab Spring. Now, … Continue reading Trolls be gone

Should Beginners Use Meditation Apps? A New Study Warns of Adverse Effects

A study in Psychotherapy Research indicates that people who started meditating using an app may be more likely to develop what’s known as “meditation sickness.” By Wendy Biddlecombe Agsar Anew study published in the journal Psychotherapy Research indicates that people who started meditating using an app have a higher likelihood of developing the adverse effects that can result from meditation practice.   This finding was included in “Prevalence of meditation-related adverse effects in a population-based sample in the United States,” which was published in June 2021. The study’s authors conducted what they believe to be the first population-based survey of the adverse effects of meditation (participants, it should … Continue reading Should Beginners Use Meditation Apps? A New Study Warns of Adverse Effects