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Research

Destroyer of Worlds

In February 1947, Harper’s Magazine published Henry L. Stimson’s “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb.” As secretary of war, Stimson had served as the chief military adviser to President…

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The Origins of Speech

Nobody in academia had ever witnessed or even heard of a performance like this before. In just a few years, in the early 1950s, a University of Pennsylvania graduate student…

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Never Never Man

From “Severe Growing-Up Phobia,” a paper that was coauthored by Laurencia Perales Blum and published in Case Reports in Psychiatry, in 2014. The paper discusses a Mexican boy who suffered…

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The Bed-Rest Hoax

After just a couple of days on bed rest, the material of your body begins to feel different: softer, heavier, a burden to the bone beneath. The thud of the…

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The Transhuman Condition

By John Markoff, from Machines of Loving Grace, out this month from Ecco Books. Markoff has been a technology and business reporter for the New York Times since 1988. Bill…

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Bot for Teacher

From the titles of computer-science papers published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and retracted after it was discovered that they were written by software that generates fake…

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Thirty Million Gallons Under the Sea

One morning in March of last year, I set out from Gulfport, Mississippi, on a three-week mission aboard the U.S. Navy research vessel Atlantis. The 274-foot ship, painted a crisp…

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The Quietest Place in the Universe

Rick Gaitskell and I first met over lunch in Deadwood, South Dakota, back in the summer of 2012. An astrophysicist who had quit investment banking because he found the mathematics…

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May 2015