On the origins of empathy for other species
We’ve learnt to see the world through the eyes of our prey. All the better to eat them with.
We’ve learnt to see the world through the eyes of our prey. All the better to eat them with.
Building infrastructure doesn’t need to come at the cost of the environment. But it does need smarter rules.
Power outages force businesses across Africa to rely on expensive, dirty diesel generators. Price caps block improvement, but removing them isn’t easy.
We have learned to fear plutonium – one of the world’s most useful materials. But as long as you don’t eat it, you’re probably safe.
Plastic is eating the roads. It might be a cleaner, quieter, ready-made alternative to asphalt for the next generation of paving.
Exposing misinformation online is hard to do at scale and can veer into outright censorship. The wisdom of crowds can lead us to the answers.
International development was revolutionized by experiments and evaluations of its methods. Meta-science can learn from it.
Fire has almost disappeared as a cause of death in the developed world. A similar approach could do the same for infectious diseases.
Snakebites kill between 80,000 and 140,000 people every year. Better antivenom should be a high priority – thankfully new technology can help.
Though we tend to see history as just one political event after another, it’s technology and ideas, not politics, that change our lives the most. History should reflect that.
Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence are forcing skeptics to eat their words. We should take its risks seriously too.
Scientific papers are dense, jargon-filled, and painful to read. It wasn’t always this way – and it doesn’t have to be.
Is a build up of generic regulations together causing us to be three times poorer than we need to be? Probably not. But the insidious rise of risk aversion is still a big drag on economic growth.
Stripe Press’s Tamara Winter sits down with J. Storrs Hall, whose book ‘Where is My Flying Car’ inspired this issue, to talk about stagnation and the possibility of progress.
The great slowdown began when we started rationing energy. Restarting progress means getting energy that is so abundant that it’s almost free.
Nanotechnology sometimes sounds as much like science fiction as artificial intelligence once did. But the problems holding it back seem solvable, and some of the answers may lie inside our own bodies.
We may not have flying cars but we do have incredible information technology. We’re mismeasuring the huge benefits it is bringing.
Americans famously love to sue one another. Are out of control product liability lawsuits the to blame for the crash of the personal aviation industry?
The world’s first round-the-world solo yacht race was a thrilling and, for some, deadly contest. Its contestants’ efforts can teach us about the art of maintenance.
When America’s economy overtook Britain’s a century ago, it remade the world order. How it happened is still debated.
Outdated forms of peer review create bottlenecks that slow science. But in a world where research can now circulate rapidly on the Internet, we need to develop new ways to do science in public.
Until recently, roads were shared between a messy mix of cyclists, stagecoaches, carts, horses, and pedestrians, with no dominant user.
Bacteriophages – viruses that infect bacterial cells – were almost forgotten in the age of antibiotics. Now as bacterial resistance grows, they may return to help us in our hour of need.
History’s most famous innovation prize—the longitude rewards—is misunderstood. Innovation prizes are best at promoting refinements, not revolutions.
Gas heating is bad for the environment. But home-built heat pumps aren’t perfect either.
Polyester went from being the world’s most hated fabrics to one of its favorites. It’s so successful that many people don’t even realize they’re wearing polyester today.
Some think of advances in science and technology through the metaphor of low-hanging fruit: we “picked” the easy ones, and the rest will be very difficult.
Duels can be brutal and even lethal. But duels emerged in societies around the world for an important reason: to control and manage violence, not just to celebrate it.
Ireland’s housing bubble and bust has become emblematic of what not to do in housing debates around the world. The only problem is nobody agrees what actually went wrong.
The height of skyscrapers is limited by physical, economic and regulatory barriers, but we should want to overcome them and build taller. Here’s how we can do it.
Society has free-ridden on women for millennia, benefiting from the children they’ve had while bearing few of the costs. But as women have gained other options, birth rates have fallen.
Many modern buildings put up today seem uglier than traditional ones around them. Some say this is because we’ve torn down the ugly old buildings, and only see the survivors. Are they right?
Plagiarism is unforgivable in academia but it’s not plagiarism itself that should trouble us. It’s carelessness and a lack of originality.
Without new humans, growth will slow, and we will be less likely to reach the stars. But pro-natalism has been captured by a range of unsavoury voices. There is an alternative.
Our success is based on scientific discovery, so it’s not surprising how much faith we put into it. But we now trust science so implicitly that our trust undermines the institution itself.
The kitchen of 2020 looks mostly the same as that of 1960. But what we do in it has changed dramatically, almost entirely for the better—due to a culture of culinary innovation.
How do technologies get off the ground? As well as seed funding, many of the best technologies require Buyers of First Resort, which buy products until they improve enough to get to efficient scale.
We have eradicated smallpox, cured many bacterial diseases, and invented a vaccine for Covid-19 within the year. But for a very long time we haven’t had a single good treatment for obesity.
Could an asteroid wipe out human civilisation like it may have eliminated the dinosaurs? Big asteroids come along extremely rarely and our monitoring systems are effective and well funded.
Covid-19 brought death, suffering and financial straits, so it was unsurprising that depression rose around the world. But when the data came in, we found suicide did not – and it’s a mystery why.
Everybody loves to hate Bitcoin. Yet big business is spending hundreds of millions on it, helping to drive the price higher and higher. It’s easy to dismiss that as a marketing fad.
Researchers have known for decades that lead poisoning damages brains and worsens crime, but millions of Americans still drink contaminated water every day. Here’s how we can fix that.
Is the popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe a sign of art in decline? It’s common for people to assert that film, art, music and literature are getting worse. This is why they’re wrong.
Are technology and the environment friends or foes? In this wide-ranging conversation, we discuss climate policy, activism and ecomodernism with Ted Nordhaus.
The conversation around science is full of ideas for reform, but how do we know which ones will be effective? To find out what works, we need to apply the scientific method to science itself.
Critics of scientific reform say that transparency comes at the cost of speed. What can disciplines learn from each other to break away from this crisis?
Protecting people’s health during the pandemic will increase debt, but the economic consensus is that we shouldn’t be concerned.
As rental prices continue to climb in San Francisco, tech firms have looked to relocate in other cities. Without major housing reforms, the next Silicon Valley will face the same fate.
Crises upend plans, force people to re-evaluate their priorities, and bring into focus new goals. Financial markets give us hints of what we can expect from the aftermath of Covid-19.
While rents have been soaring for years in urban areas around the world, one Australian city has weathered the storm. What can the world learn from the experiences of Sydney?
Bad incentives, muddled theory and no practical use. The condition of the social sciences has been blamed on a great variety of things; what’s really at fault and how do we know?
Building traditionalist architecture today is derided as inauthentic pastiche. But this perspective turns a blind eye to the dramatic and sophisticated ways that design has been applied throughout history.
Some of the greatest advances in technology have emerged from bringing intelligent people together to solve problems. How do tech clusters develop & how can we use them to replicate past successes?
Electrical interference has restricted what humans can observe with telescopes. To make leaps as a species, now’s the time for us to build a telescope on the far side of the moon.
Scientific research today is afflicted by poor reliability and low utility, despite the best efforts of individual researchers.
Many have argued that innovation develops in a simple linear fashion – from research to experimentation to engineering.
New technologies can be dangerous, threatening the very survival of humanity. Is economic growth inherently risky, and how do we maximize the chances of a flourishing future?
In spite of major technological progress, tech is often envisioned in the media with pessimism and dread.
Many low-income countries are unable to provide effective governance for their citizens, trapped in a cycle of slow growth and persistent corruption. Charter cities may provide an answer.
Polls show that the majority of Americans want to reduce their consumption of meat, but many struggle to do so.
Modern psychiatry appears to be at a standstill, wanting for better treatment and a substantive theoretical framework. Evolutionary theory has the potential to reinvigorate the field.
Throughout history, states struggled to maintain power, having to rely on private agents and enforcers to fund themselves and govern their citizens.
For a time in recent history, R&D labs seemed to exist in a golden age of innovation and productivity. But this period vanished as swiftly as it came to be.