The distinction between “hard science fiction” and “soft science fiction” means many different things to different people—but that doesn’t prevent people from turning it into a status game. Which science fiction has the most real science, or the most serious scientific discussions? Depends whom you ask.
Yes, there is a Big Red Button for... something.
Great works of science fiction can help us become more aware of real science, and more curious about the wonders of the cosmos. But for some people, they can actually help inspire a career in the sciences. The Conversation asked scientists to name their favorite science-fiction stories, and the results are inspiring.…
Some of us love spoilers—but some of us really, really hate them. Spoilers have become an especially charged topic of late, with the new Star Wars movie among other things. So it’s a good thing you can sign on to a new Kickstarter for SpoilerFree and erase those spoilers from your brain!
Northeastern University biologist Jonathan Tilly is certain he’s found egg-making stem cells in adult mice. If he’s right, it would refute decades-old work that showed female mammals finish making all their eggs before or shortly after birth. This might make it possible to grow new eggs inside the ovaries of older…
The Bread Lab at Washington State University is a collaboration between plant geneticists and master bakers. The goal? To breed new varieties of wheat that can turn out superior breads and beers while still growing well in the cool and wet Northwest climate.
People who want to start a family but have, for whatever reason, a problem with the sperm half of the equation have options. There are in-vitro methods that get sperm right next to or injected directly inside an egg. There are sperm banks. Some people have friends who are willing to be sperm donors. And the internet…
Some mammals have a dangerous-looking penis because their glans is covered in spines. In a few cases, we know why they’re there (typically, to induce ovulation during copulation). But in many other species, the purpose of the spiky bits is something of a mystery.
I know breast milk is good and all, but when I became a mom I was kinda shocked at how much it was cited as a cure-all for anything that ailed my newborn. It turns out it’s not just because of the nutritional value. My baby’s immune system is communicating with mine THROUGH MY NIPPLES. And now that I understand how it…
We think in binaries: plant/animal, day/night, edible/disgusting, safe/dangerous. Breaking the world into discrete chunks helps us make rapid decisions about how to behave, but can also make us uneasy when we’re faced with things that don’t easily fit into one of our mental boxes.
Psychologists John and Julie Gottman spent years observing couples’ behavior and developed a method that claims to predict a romantic relationship’s chances of long-term success. They’ve (of course) used what they learned to create a $750-per-couple workshop that aims to help people become better partners.
So your taps have run dry in the drought and you desperately need more water for your family. Why not just dig another well? For starters, the cost of digging a well might be more than you paid for your house. And then there’s another issue: No matter how deep you dig, someone with more money is gonna dig one deeper…
As the EU’s self-appointed morality police, Germany publicly spanked Greece earlier this month for being so financially frivolous. Well, Germany has its own money troubles! Namely, a catastrophe-riddled $6 billion airport that the country continues to pour money into—with no opening date in sight. Scheiße!
The Pacific Northwest is due for a continent-rending earthquake. Experts believe the odds of a Big One happening in the next half century are about one in three, the odds of a Very Big One roughly one in ten, and that, in either case, we are disastrously unprepared.
Even if you didn’t see Interstellar, you’ve probably heard about how black holes have an “event horizon” — and once you pass it, you’re mashed into multi-dimensional mush. But now, some physicists believe we got it all wrong. Black holes are more like fuzzy balls of cotton, with no event horizons at all.
Your schoolteachers probably told you most species wouldn’t (or maybe couldn’t) successfully interbreed with one another. If some did, their hybrid offspring, like mules, couldn’t have babies of their own. That explanation was a bit oversimplified. Hybridization happens, and it may be one way new species arise.
What happens when your water supply runs dry? You go underground. In some parts of California, drought-plagued farmers are digging groundwater wells that plunge deeper and deeper into the earth, siphoning away the water of their neighbors, and causing the ground to collapse—potentially destroying the soil for good.
Since 2012, the US has held the title of world’s number one wood pellet exporter. What’s the big deal with wood pellets? Well, Europe has very keen on replacing coal with more environmentally friendly wood pellets—except, well, depending on who you ask, wood may not be that great either.
Some of you who’ve been reading Throb might think I’m a bit condom-obsessed, but that’s not accurate. I’m actually obsessed with people enjoying sex while preventing unwanted pregnancy and the spread of disease. And let’s be honest: no one is truly thrilled by latex condoms. In a word, they suck. Leaving aside the…