Science

More than a quarter billion people today are infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV), the World Health Organization estimates, and more than 850,000 of them die every year as a result. Although an effective and inexpensive vaccine can prevent infections, the virus, a major culprit in liver disease, is…

Read More

For a species whose numbers show no signs of collapsing, humans have a shockingly high mutation rate. Each of us is born with about 70 new genetic errors that our parents did not have. That’s much more than a slime mold, say, or a bacterium. Mutations are likely to decrease…

Read More

In February 2016, the leaders of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) announced that they had successfully detected gravitational waves, subtle ripples in the fabric of space-time that had been stirred up by the collision of two black holes. The team held a press conference in Washington to announce the…

Read More

On a warm morning in early spring, June Huh walked across the campus of Princeton University. His destination was McDonnell Hall, where he was scheduled to teach, and he wasn’t quite sure how to get there. Huh is a member of the rarefied Institute for Advanced Study, which lies adjacent…

Read More

Physicists have wondered for decades whether infinitely dense points known as singularities can ever exist outside black holes, which would expose the mysteries of quantum gravity for all to see. Singularities—snags in the otherwise smooth fabric of space and time where Albert Einstein’s classical gravity theory breaks down and the…

Read More

For years, dark matter has been behaving badly. The term was first invoked nearly 80 years ago by the astronomer Fritz Zwicky, who realized that some unseen gravitational force was needed to stop individual galaxies from escaping giant galaxy clusters. Later, Vera Rubin and Kent Ford used unseen dark matter…

Read More

In his 1890 opus, The Principles of Psychology, William James invoked Romeo and Juliet to illustrate what makes conscious beings so different from the particles that make them up. “Romeo wants Juliet as the filings want the magnet; and if no obstacles intervene he moves towards her by as straight…

Read More