Cities at Night was launched by some Spanish astrophysicists who started following an astronaut’s Twitter account. “For us his nighttime pictures were like fire for a firefighter—it’s pretty, but you must control it,” says Alejandro Sanchez from Complutense University of Madrid. “We want to make the nighttime images useful for citizens, journalists, and scientists. And make this beauty accessible—but also make people think about if all this waste of energy is really needed.”
“You and I haven’t improved all that much, but robots have. We can work together with other nations in design, construction, and making habitats on both the near side and far side of Mars.”
Director Mike Cahill on how iris-scanning technology, Richard Dawkins, and a TED talk inspired his new film, I Origins.
Cahill based Pitt’s Ian Gray character loosely on scientist Richard Dawkins. “The scanning of the color part of your eye has been around since 1987 when he figured out the algorithm and it’s been a slow-growing technology over the years. Nowadays in New York City if a person is arrested they get their eye scanned, babies in hospitals get their eyes scanned, you can go through the fast lane at the airport if you do your iris scan.”
The filmmaker became further sold on the power of iris scans after checking out a TED Talk by Jeff Carter. “He talks about how fingerprints only give you so many degrees of accuracy, where as the patterns in your eyes form when you’re in your mother’s womb and stay the same for you for your entire life,” Cahill notes. “From a technological standpoint, it’s a great way to ID a person. And since the eye has also enticed poets since the dawn of civilization, it seemed like a wonderful meeting place for two of my greatest passions—science and spirituality.”
From hedonic reversal to fear of boredom, these psychological concepts offer insight into why that dilapidated warehouse is so appealing.
A new study reveals how hallucinogenic drugs put people in a more dream-like, “selfless,” and maybe creative state.
Scientists aren’t merely confirming that hallucinogens are fun to do. If the effects of these drugs could be harnessed, then theoretically, they could be used to deliberately fuel creative output. “It’s possible that we could learn what sort of mode the brain enters when one has creative insights on the drug and then maybe we could learn about how that could be harnessed without it,” says Robin Carhart-Harris, a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London and a co-author of the study.
IBM thinks the future belongs to computers that mimic the human brain and use quantum physics … and they’re betting $3 billion on it.
“The symmetry of clocks lulls us into believing that time is a fixed commodity, but studies indicate that’s not the way it’s experienced. Time speeds up as we age. And the older you get, the more quickly it appears to vanish.”
Astronaut Reid Wiseman takes to Twitter with an olfactory report from space.
On Tuesday, a bonsai tree boldly went where no bonsai tree has gone before.
Azuma Makoto, a 38-year-old artist based in Tokyo, launched two botanical arrangements into orbit: “Shiki 1,” a Japanese white pine bonsai tree suspended from a metal frame, and an untitled arrangement of orchids, lilies, hydrangeas, and irises.
Las Vegas will be the new Saudi Arabia.
Who remembered that we’d gotten it wrong so many times?
Once the U.S. planted a flag on the moon, it was easy to forget the trials and tribulations of the space race. But did you know that the United States and Soviet Union combined for eight failed missions to the moon within a single year? Eventually, the U.S. got the Pioneer 4 (their fifth attempt) to do a successful flyby in 1959. The Soviet Union followed a few months later by topping us big time—they actually landed with their Luna 2, a probe that looks straight out of 1960s sci-fi television. It’s a story that you can follow in this pair of infographics created by Margot Trudell as part of her OCAD graduate thesis.
“A new study claims to have potentially solved a famous puzzle in social science: Why some nations are always so damn happy. The secret? Be Danish.”
Names that tune in 3 notes
No, it’s not a contestant from the classic TV game show. It’s an IBM computer that uses algorithmic computation to identify a song’s musical period—Baroque, Classical or Romantic— in only three notes. And when applied to speech patterns, the same technology can be used as an early warning system for Parkinson’s disease and certain kinds of psychiatric disorders. Read on →
"We chose the epic challenge of reaching Mars because epic challenges inspire us and motivate us."
"For the first time, we were able to invite the world in live during the 31 days on a Cousteau expedition. The fact that you could see the curiosity in kids, and even in older adults, was a huge reward for me personally because I believe we sparked something that hadn’t happened to the ocean since my grandfather’s era."