The Road to Fossil Fuel Dependence

In the years after World War II, the U.S. decided the best way to defend itself again future invasion was to build a monumental interstate highway system. But this network of roads has had dramatic effects on the way we live, and is a root cause of global political and environmental instability.

A Dubious Golden Elixir

In parts of India, where cows are revered, their urine is thought to have healing powers. Studies investigating these claims come mainly from Indian researchers and their work is rarely published in Western journals. But scrutiny must come from outside this cultural context for the science to hold up.

The Ancient Magic Power of Alien Creatures from the 17th Dimension

The only science behind the Q-Ray bracelet, sold on late-night television as a cure-all for everything from headaches to sciatica, was that of the placebo effect: the potency of beliefs to trigger physiological changes. In that sense, it had ties to both ancient mysticism and cutting-edge science.

Blind Rage and the Killing at Carderock

In 2013, David DiPaolo was seen arguing with his longtime climbing partner, Geoff Farrar, near a popular span of cliffs outside of Washington, D.C. Before the day was out, DiPaolo would bludgeon Farrar to death with a hammer in an apparent fit of rage. What makes a brain snap, and does biology play a role?

Mind, Body, or Both? The Experience of Gender Identity.

Some people have argued for an innate, biological basis for gender, whether it is physiological, neuroanatomical or hormonal. Others say it’s purely a product of the way we’re socialized, and that we learn to be masculine or feminine. But in many important ways, it appears that both can be true.

On the Journey Into Your Genome, You Are Never Alone

The arrival of genetic sequencing as a consumer product raises a variety of unanswered questions — particularly for parents considering a dive into the family gene pool. After all, your genes hold a wealth of potentially troubling information not just about you, but about generations of family members.

What I Left Out: Sharkpedo?

Under a secret Navy-funded undertaking known as “Project Headgear,” U.S. scientists attempted to use sharks as bomb delivery systems. Strapping them with explosives and using electric shocks to steer them towards enemy targets, everything seemed to be working — except for of course, the sharks.

On the Body as Machine

The American way of thinking of the body as a machine and the brain as a computer has led to a militaristic approach to medicine and an over simplification of the mind’s complex abilities. These metaphors do not control our thoughts, but they can set boundaries around the way we think about healthcare.

Grandfather Clocks and the Big Bang

Why do the hands of a grandfather clock move forward, but not backwards? The culprit is entropy — the quantity that measures the disorder or randomness of physical systems. When the universe began 14 billion years ago, entropy was extremely low. But it increases as time passes, keeping time moving forward.

The Root From Issyk-Kul Revisited

When renowned oncologist Dr. Vincent DeVita Jr. examined Tommy for the first time, his heart sank. Tommy had advanced cancer and his prospects were not good. So when Tommy and his wife asked DeVita to try a Russian folk remedy passed down from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn himself, DeVita acquiesced. “The truth is, you never know what might work,” DeVita thought.

Coincidence, Or Simple Con?

The word con stands for the confidence game: You willingly give your confidence, or trust, to someone who abuses that confidence for personal ends. But con games often succeed, in part, because they also play on our apparent inability to dismiss the improbable as purely coincidental.