It's generally agreed that life on this planet would not be possible if it weren't for microbes. In a fascinating thought experiment, a pair of biologists scrutinized this assumption to find out. As their paper makes clear, a microbe-free world would be a strange place, indeed.
Most of us have heard of the famous Schrödinger's Cat thought experiment. As it turns out, there's a variant, and it involves an irresponsible friend, a possibly dead cat, and an even weirder configuration of quantum mechanics.
Sometimes, the best way to illustrate a complicated philosophical concept is by framing it as a story or situation. Here are nine such thought experiments with downright disturbing implications.
It's become a cliché to say, "If I could do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing." Or, "I'd do the same thing again." But could you actually do that in real life? If you rewound your life to your 16th birthday, would it even be possible to duplicate your past actions?
We think it's obvious that the Earth goes around the sun, today, but back before Copernicus, detractors had the most obvious argument possible against heliocentrism. To combat this, in his argument in favor of a sun-centered universe, Galileo came up with a thought experiment about relativity now known as Galileo's…
That is, until Einstein comes along and ruins it. Check out this thought experiment that shows how, under Newtonian physics, five bodies can complete a task an infinite number of times in a finite amount of time.
Two physicists have published an academic paper where they demonstrate, by virtue of geometric progression, that vampires could not exist, since they would almost immediately deplete their entire food supply (a.k.a, all of us).
Science fiction is really a jumble sale of about twenty different genres. We use the term "science fiction" to label a whole range of material, from space opera to near-future dystopias. But what really matters is what you get out of reading or watching it. What do you look for in your science fiction? Click through…