Two Boeing 747 passenger jets collide on the runway at Los Rodeos Airport on island of Tenerife. Two Boeing 747 passenger jets collide on the runway at Los Rodeos Airport on island of Tenerife, 1977

The Most Mysterious Air Disasters

The most puzzling airplane crashes, plausible explanations, and corners cut by airline companies. All revealed by a crash investigator, journalist and documentary producer Christine Negroni . Christine has more than fifteen years’ experience participating in the international effort to create safer skies. She is the author of “The Crash Detectives: Investigating the World’s Most Mysterious Air Disasters”.

Little Atoms

Questioning Reality with Cognitive Scientist Donald Hoffman

questioning-realityDonald Hoffman, a cognitive psychologist at the University of California with a background in artificial intelligence, game theory, and evolutionary biology has developed a new theory of consciousness that, should it prove true, would rearrange our understanding of not only the mind and the brain, but physics itself.

Hoffman wondered if evolution truly favored organisms that are seeing different parts of the truth, so he and his graduate students created computer models of natural selection. “We simulated hundreds of thousands of random worlds and put organisms in those worlds that could see all of the truth, part of the truth, or none of the truth,” explained Hoffman. “What we found in our simulations was that organisms that saw reality as-it-is could never outcompete organisms that saw none of reality and were just tuned to fitness, as long as they were of equal complexity.”

The implication, Hoffman said, is that an organism that can see the truth will never be favored by natural selection. This suggests that literally nothing we can conceive of can be said to represent objective reality, not even atoms, molecules, or physical laws. There’s no escape.

You Are Not So Smart

1000 Francs COMOROS

The Bizarre Scheme to Transform a Remote Island into the New Dubai

How Comoros attempted and failed to develop the market for passports and citizenship. “It was a sign of the times – before the collapse of the global financial system, or the Arab revolutions – that it did not seem entirely unlikely that a well-connected global citizen could transform a destitute archipelago into a Hawaii for Arabs.”

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads

1904 Print Honore Daumier Emma I Love You Romantic Couple

Are We Biased about Love?

Does romance makes us irrationally optimistic about our chances of happiness, despite all the evidence to the contrary? Are we just crazy when it comes to love? And if so, is that a good or a bad thing? David Edmonds speaks to Professor Lisa Bortolotti – philosopher of the cognitive sciences at the University of Birmingham. She focuses on the philosophy of psychology and psychiatry. She is also interested in biomedical ethics.

Philosophy 247

Malcolm Gladwell (left) and Dave Reid coming into the finish at an Ontario school race in 1978. Malcolm Gladwell (left) and Dave Reid coming into the finish at an Ontario school race in 1978.

Malcolm Gladwell Argues for Mediocrity

Malcolm Gladwell in a conversation on running fast, satire as a weapon, Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden, Harvard’s under-theorized endowment, why early childhood intervention is overrated, long-distance running, and Malcolm’s happy risk-averse career going from one “fur-lined rat hole to the next.”

Conversations with Tyler

Human Guinea Pigs

Explore the world of clinical drug trials and human guinea pigs. The testing is normally handled by private outfits to keep it at arm’s-length from the pharma companies. It also lets drug companies off the hook from the messy business of working with human test subjects. When things go sideways in these trails, it can turn out really badly. Rob Oldfield describes a near death experience after a violent drug reaction, and Robert Helms gives us a glimpse into the life of a professional guinea pig.

On Drugs

Guano Mania

In 2014, President Obama closed 490,000 square miles of largely undisturbed ocean to commercial fishing and underwater mining, and expanded the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, making it the largest marine preserve in the world at the time.
The preserve is nowhere near the mainland United States nor is it all in close range to Hawaii. Still, President Obama was able to protect this piece of ocean in the name of the United States.
To understand how the U.S. has jurisdiction over these waters in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, one has to look back to the 19th Century when, for a brief period, the U.S. scoured the oceans looking for rock islands covered in guano. That is: seabird poop.

99% Invisible | 6th December 2016

Roman mosaic: Know Thyself Roman mosaic: Know Thyself

Brain Dust

Driven by a hidden agenda, powered by an indecipherable web of neurons, and influenced by other brains, your grey matter is a black box.  To “know thyself” may be a challenge, and free will nonexistent, but maybe more technology can shed light on the goings on in your noggin, and the rest of your body. Find out how tiny implanted sensors called “brain dust” may reveal what really going on. Plus, the day when your brain is uploaded into a computer as ones and zeros. Will you still be you? Guests: David Eagleman – Neuroscientist, Stanford University, author of The Brain: the Story of You. Michel Maharbiz – Electrical engineer, University of California, Berkeley.

Big Picture Science

A Brief History of Failure

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal,” said Winston Churchill. The American satirist Joe Queenan disagrees and rails against the very idea of failure. His sharpest attack is reserved for the supposed romance of defeat. From Braveheart in Scotland via the heretic Cathars in France to the pretend soldiers in Virginia still re-enacting the American Civil War, Queenan explores whether there may be something noble about losing a war.
“I’m in the south, at one of the many re-enactment battles of the American civil war that go on every year. Thousands have turned up to re-fight a war they lost. We don’t do this in the north – it would be odd, and divisive, perhaps even inflammatory. But the memories of a conflict that took place over 150 years down here – they don’t go away.”

Archive on 4

Karl Marx, Illustration by Santy Gutierrez Illustration by Santy Gutierrez

Self-destructive tendency of capitalism – Brian Leiter explains how to think about Marx

When people think about Karl Marx today, they often lose sight of several important things, argues philosopher and legal scholar, Brian Leiter. One is that Marx was actually kind of a fan of capitalism, in the sense that he thinks capitalism and technological process will lead to the elimination of menial labor. But then what? It seems we’ll get a big vacuum in the job market for people without elite educational degrees. And if we don’t do anything about that, presumably, we’ll get mass unemployment. And if there’s mass unemployment, no one will be able to buy anything, which will tank the entire economy, including the fortunes of the one percenters, who rely on people purchasing things to continue turning a profit. Communism can only get going once that process is finished. The purpose of communism isn’t to altruistically spread the wealth around . It’s just to prevent the world economy from imploding! So in a way, you could pitch communism as a project driven by self-interest.