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Nautilus is a different kind of science magazine. We deliver big-picture science by reporting on a single monthly topic from multiple perspectives. Read a new chapter in the story every Thursday.

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The End of Reductionism Could Be Nigh. Or Not. - Facts So Romantic

Quantum mechanics seems to have a problem with the order of time, which might signal the need for an entirely new type of law.Illustration by Ekaterina Kulaeva / ShutterstockThe history of science so far has been a triumph of reductionism. Biology can be reduced to chemistry, chemistry can be reduced to atomic physics, and atoms are made of elementary...

Is the Universe Open-Ended? - Issue 102: Hidden Truths

One of my favorite albeit heavily paraphrased quotes from Albert Einstein is his assertion that the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. (What he actually said, in his 1936 work “Physics and Reality,” is more longwinded, and includes a digression into Immanuel Kant and the meaning of “comprehensibility”, but he...

The History of Locker-Room Talk - Issue 102: Hidden Truths

When I first posted on social media about my new book, Father Figure: How to Be a Feminist Dad, some of my friends were confused. One commented, “I don’t understand; do you hate men?” Another said, “I feel bad for your sons.”It turns out that many people—even some in my progressive, liberal bubble—resist the idea of men becoming feminist dads because...

My 3 Greatest Revelations - Issue 102: Hidden Truths

1 The “Dataome” Is HugeThe dataome is shorthand to describe all of the externalized information we generate in symbolic representations: drawings, music, books, computing, data storage. It’s all of the information we utilize and propagate, along with ourselves, through time and space. It’s not encoded in our genes but it’s clearly heritable. I can read...

My Lab Uses Ultrasound to Stimulate Unconscious Patients - Facts So Romantic

Ultrasound can be a neuromodulator—to increase or decrease the likelihood that neurons will fire. Exactly how this works remains unclear, but it likely results from the physical “shaking” of neurons.Illustration by Jackie Niam / ShutterstockA few years ago, at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, I escaped the noisy midday hustle and bustle, ducking into...

Data Crunchers to the Rescue - Issue 102: Hidden Truths

The boy was only a month old but had developed the amount of health problems that other people don’t acquire in a lifetime. He was constantly suffering from bacterial infections, battling unexplained inflammation, not gaining weight, and—scariest of all—having bloody diarrhea, a puzzling symptom that made some doctors think he had a pediatric version...

Our Little Life Is Rounded with Possibility - Issue 102: Hidden Truths

If you could soar high in the sky, as red kites often do in search of prey, and look down at the domain of all things known and yet to be known, you would see something very curious: a vast class of things that science has so far almost entirely neglected. These things are central to our understanding of physical reality, both at the everyday level...

Do You Want AI to Be Conscious? - Issue 102: Hidden Truths

People often ask me whether human-level artificial intelligence will eventually become conscious. My response is: Do you want it to be conscious? I think it is largely up to us whether our machines will wake up. That may sound presumptuous. The mechanisms of consciousness—the reasons we have a vivid and direct experience of the world and of the self—are...

We Already Know How to Stop SolarWinds-Like Hacks - Facts So Romantic

Orion, a SolarWinds product, was designed to monitor the users’ networks to make sure they were functioning properly and, ironically, kept safe.Photograph by Camilo Concha / ShutterstockLast year, hackers made headlines after they breached SolarWinds, a software company that specializes in network monitoring software. About 33,000 organizations, including...

The “Lab Leak”: It’s Not Enough to Say Accidents Happen - Facts So Romantic

So far no one has come up with any clear account of how a coronavirus escaped biosafety level 4 barriers. Photograph by MihasLi / ShutterstockDisasters evoke a search for who to blame. Mishandled disasters make that search vital for anyone whose actions or inactions may have amplified the catastrophe’s damage. As the official United States COVID death...

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