Berfrois

Armed, Not Tentacled

Armed, Not Tentacled

In 1815, 15 years before he made his most famous print, The Great Wave, Hokusai published three volumes of erotic art. In one of them there is a woodcut print known in English as ‘The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife’...

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‘Pain relief usually ends up at opioid analgesics’

‘Pain relief usually ends up at opioid analgesics’

The notion that your doctor knows best, and will make decisions about your treatment with little attention to your desires, has been out of fashion for decades.

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Sean Carroll: Is Inflationary Cosmology Science?

Sean Carroll: Is Inflationary Cosmology Science?

Inflationary cosmology is the clever idea that the early universe underwent a brief period of accelerated expansion at an enormously high energy density, before that energy converted in a flash into ordinary hot matter and radiation.

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Education in the Age of AI

Education in the Age of AI

There’s all this talk that robots will replace humans in the workplace, leaving us poor, redundant schmucks with nothing to do but embrace the glorious (yet terrifying) creative potential of opiates and ennui.

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From the moment we are born, forms chase us…

From the moment we are born, forms chase us…

From the moment we are born, standardized forms chase us: birth certificates, school applications, bank deposit slips, insurance claim forms, and, irritatingly, more.

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W for a World

W for a World

The Thirteenth Floor, Columbia Pictures, 1999 From The Atlantic: Gefter: If snakes aren’t snakes and trains aren’t trains, what are they? Hoffman: Snakes and trains, like the particles of physics, have no objective, observer-independent features. The snake I see is a description created by my sensory system to inform me...

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Creatures, Honeybees

Creatures, Honeybees

Reading Bök’s many DNA poems, we realize that all our bodies are made from highly restricted vocabularies. Bök wrote in the time of the first generation to witness the great bee die-off, when the chemical genius of bees was undone by other chemical geniuses who decided to spread insecticidal...

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Should We Fear AI?

Should We Fear AI?

It is wise to think through the implications of new technology. I understand the good intentions of Jaron Lanier and others who have raised an alarm about AI.

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Commons People

Commons People

The most important lesson urban commons can take from its digital counterpart is at the same time the most difficult one: how to make a structural hack in the moment of the creation of an urban commons that will enable it to become structurally self-perpetuating

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Batiked With the Walk of Ages

Batiked With the Walk of Ages

From The New York Review of Books: The free-living dolphins of the Bahamas had come to know researcher Denise Herzing and her team very well. For decades, at the start of each four-month-long field season, the dolphins would give the returning humans a joyous reception: “a reunion of friends,” as...

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Meaning and Pseudoscience by Sebastian Normandin

Meaning and Pseudoscience by Sebastian Normandin

The persistence and proliferation of pseudoscientific thinking in contemporary culture demands explanation. Clearly there are some pragmatic reasons for its expanded existence, and people will often trot these out when discussing the topic.

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Beached

Beached

Sixty years ago, as the Cold War intensified, the end of the world seemed much too close for comfort. The threat of nuclear destruction, implicit in the newspaper headlines of the day, naturally leached into popular culture.

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The Posthuman: Judgement Day

The Posthuman: Judgement Day

If posthumanism signals the end of a certain way of describing—or, more precisely, orienting—selfhood, then we might ask, as Ralph Waldo Emerson did at the start of his famous essay, “Experience”, “Where do we find ourselves?”

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Many, Many, Many, Many Worlds

Many, Many, Many, Many Worlds

I have often talked about the Many-Worlds or Everett approach to quantum mechanics — here’s an explanatory video, an excerpt from From Eternity to Here, and slides from a talk. But I don’t think I’ve ever explained as persuasively as possible why I think it’s the right approach. So...

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The Blackness by Jenny Diski

The Blackness by Jenny Diski

It’s spring again. I know that because the frogs are furiously at it in the pond and the faintest of greens is appearing on the birch tree. There’s even a hint of sun after the Cambridge morning mist has passed. Why am I sunk in gloom, barely able to...

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