Berfrois

Substrata of Substratum

Substrata of Substratum

The title of Lee Smolin’s new book may seem a little puzzling, given that Albert Einstein notoriously chose to disregard quantum mechanics rather than suggesting an alternative to it.

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They Can Tell

They Can Tell

Before they started their successful wildcat strike last year, West Virginia teachers railed against the introduction of a workplace wellness program called Go365.

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CRISPR’s World

CRISPR’s World

When the journal Science chose the radical gene-editing technology CRISPR as its 2015 breakthrough of the year, the editorial team closed its description on a dire note.

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Do children fall in love?

Do children fall in love?

Do children really fall in love? Amanda Rose, a professor of psychology at the University of Missouri who focuses on friendships and peer relationships in childhood and adolescence...

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What Einstein meant by ‘God does not play dice’

What Einstein meant by ‘God does not play dice’

‘The theory produces a good deal but hardly brings us closer to the secret of the Old One,’ wrote Albert Einstein in December 1926. ‘I am at all events convinced that He does not play dice.’ 

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Are You and Your Microbes a Community or a Single Entity?

Are You and Your Microbes a Community or a Single Entity?

Cicadas might be a pest, but they’re special in a few respects. For one, these droning insects have a habit of emerging after a prime number of years...

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‘As billions more come online’

‘As billions more come online’

Berners-Lee, who never directly profited off his invention, has also spent most of his life trying to guard it. While Silicon Valley started ride-share apps and social-media networks without profoundly considering the consequences, Berners-Lee has spent the past three decades thinking about little else.

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*Ages*

*Ages*

Ten years ago, Barbara Ehrenreich read an article in Scientific American that shook her to the core. Its argument was that the body’s immune system, far from protecting us, can enable the growth and spread of tumours...

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Enigmas will remain to challenge our remote descendants…

Enigmas will remain to challenge our remote descendants…

Albert Einstein said that the ‘most incomprehensible thing about the Universe is that it is comprehensible’. He was right to be astonished.

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Bitright

Bitright

Bitcoin rhetoric replicates elements of racist right-wing Federal Reserve conspiracism, deploying the language and rhetoric of the far-right without consciously identifying it as such or understanding the origin of these Volk-tales.

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Primitive aggressive hordes or emotionless repressive automatons?

Primitive aggressive hordes or emotionless repressive automatons?

As the gigantic ants—mutations born of the first nuclear weapon test in New Mexico—are exterminated by US army flame-throwers in the climactic scene of 1954’s Them!, Dr. Harold Medford reflects: “When man entered the atomic age, he opened the door to a new world.

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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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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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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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