Berfrois

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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Jennifer Rhee: Our Friends, the Killer Robots

Jennifer Rhee: Our Friends, the Killer Robots

Defending Yourself against the Coming Rebellion (2005) offers a survey of the “quickening” developments in contemporary robotics research, from humanoid robots, to smart houses, to robot swarms, to unmanned air and land vehicles.

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Continued Enrichment?

Continued Enrichment?

IR40 Heavy Water reactor facility, near Arak, Iran From Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: The criticism that Obama drew for his subdued response begs the question of whether the Green Movement actually wanted his vocal support. Gauging the views of movement leaders, Parsi determines that, at the height of...

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Ground

Ground

Berliner Ensemble production of The Life of Galileo, 1971 From The Nation: A right thumb, a finger, a tooth. These were the contents of a reliquary acquired several years ago by a collector at an auction in Florence. Little did he know that for centuries the remains had been...

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Rhoda Feng: Neophilia

Rhoda Feng: Neophilia

In the 1450s there lived a boy whose favorite pastime it was to roam the hills of Tuscany. He would dwell in vineyards and olive groves that offered up an assortment of brightly plumed birds, peeping insects, and fragrant plants for contemplation. On his lengthier peregrinations, he developed a...

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The Open-Science Internet

The Open-Science Internet

In the future, scientists may be relying on open-source projects and data sharing. As you well know, not everyone wants to share. Why do scientists lock up their data?

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R. Ford Denison: Nature’s Lies

R. Ford Denison: Nature’s Lies

Most evolutionary biologists tell us that natural selection is much better at improving trees than forests. This is especially true when the interests of individuals conflict with those of the community as a whole. A more diverse forest might be less susceptible to disease outbreaks, but that won't stop...

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“O that was strong poison”

“O that was strong poison”

by Deborah Blum When people ask why I would choose to write a book about poisons (The Poisoner’s Handbook) I usually start with my brief stint as a chemistry major, my continuing affection for using poisons as a way to think about our chemical planet. But I always end...

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Pattern of the Modal Scientific Miscreant

Pattern of the Modal Scientific Miscreant

From The Nation: In the summer of 2007, while the scientist Marc Hauser was in Australia, Harvard University authorities entered his lab on the tenth floor of William James Hall, seizing computers, videotapes, unpublished manuscripts and notes. Hauser, then 47, was a professor of psychology, organismic and evolutionary biology,...

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High on the Scoville Scale

High on the Scoville Scale

#occupyucdavis, photograph by California Aggie by Deborah Blum One hundred years ago, an American pharmacist named Wilbur Scoville developed a scale to measure the intensity of a pepper’s burn. The scale – as you can see on the widely used chart below – puts sweet bell peppers at the zero...

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Reverse Evolution

Reverse Evolution

From Jurassic Park, Universal Pictures, 1993 From Wired: People have told Jack Horner he’s crazy before, but he has always turned out to be right. In 1982, on the strength of seven years of undergraduate study, a stint in the Marines, and a gig as a paleontology researcher at...

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donetimeofthewidowitgotaghost

donetimeofthewidowitgotaghost

From Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, illustration by Samuel Clemens From American Scientist: Perception entails not just sensing the world but also making sense of it. When you listen to orchestral music, you hear oboes, violins, timpani and so on, each playing distinct notes. But the sound...

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Order Primates, Order

Order Primates, Order

From At the Zoo, Ryan Anderson, 2001-2006 by Nicolas Ellwanger For many years now, I have spent hours describing to friends and family members why I study primates and why it fits within the field of anthropology. Unfortunately, primatologists have the unenviable task of more eloquently answering the same...

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Jerry Moore: Feverish Rivers

I learned that Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff had been a Nazi when I was in a Santa Marta supermarket. I had just stepped into the Exito...

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Lauren Berlant
Lauren Berlant flies

Most of the writing we do is actually a performance of stuckness. It is a record of where we got stuck on a question...

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Robyn Ferrell on Balthus

The pitfalls of identification, hero-worship, envy and malice can beset the most patient writer in the throes of five hundred-plus pages of attention to...

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Michael Munro on Spinoza

Immanence is not philosophy, nor philosophy immanence. But there is in the passage from one to the other a modification of sense that is...

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David Beer
David Beer: Broadcastwerk

Writing at sometime around 1930 or 1931, Walter Benjamin suggested that the voice on the radio is a like a visitor in the home,...

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Rose Barnsley: Young, Gifted and Žižekian

At nineteen, it is easy to think that all you're missing is the right movement. But there is something about the young left wing...

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Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: Rama’s And

While local journalists were once again busy regurgitating worn-down, coma inducing positions about yet another spectral appearance of Enver Hoxha at the celebration of...

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Playing the Percentages: Berfrois Interviews Danny Dorling

The portrait of the 1% in your book is one of sociopathic, power-hungry narcissists with a striking lack of empathy. This may seem antagonistic,...

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Joseph Spece
Joseph Spece: When Gamers Attack

Like many ugly controversies, the beginnings of #gamergate are linked to the end of love — well, the end of a relationship, at least....

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Lauren Berlant performs by clicking

Today I introduced Facebook to someone older than me and had a long conversation about what the point of networking amongst “friends” is. The...

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Tinder Times by Bibi Deitz

I am in bed with a man. He has to go home. He is not staying the night. So he pulls out his iPhone...

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Jenny Diski keeps up

Some things are best met with silence. If I were to proceed with this month’s column in an honest way, it would be a...

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From Fashion by Tracy O’Neill

The man who brought us a disembodied protagonist alluringly voiced by Scarlett Johansson has now issued a drama — starring apparel. Recently, Opening Ceremony...

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Philippe Theophanidis on Jean-Luc Godard

At one point near the end of his unfinished novel Jean Santeuil, Marcel Proust describes a painting by Claude Monet from 1897, titled “Bras...

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