a couple of weeks ago

Teaching machines to make sense of the world

A closely-linked network of several score brilliant men and a few women are pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence research. You’ll meet many of these high-achieving and sometimes eccentric individuals in the pages of Genius Makers. You’ll get a glimpse inside Google, Facebook, Baidu, and other major institutions where most of the cutting-edge AI research […]

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last month

In the Anthropocene, the chickens come home to roost

For at least 200,000 years, homo sapiens enjoyed the bounty of the Earth, rendering only minimal damage to the planet. That began to change with the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the late eighteenth century. Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, explains. “The pressures we exert on the planet have become […]

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a couple of months ago

Mission to Europa to find extraterrestrial life

On October 10, 2024, a NASA spacecraft dubbed the Europa Clipper is scheduled to launch toward the large Jovian moon of Europa. It’s expected to arrive in April 2030. The Europa Clipper is just the final expression of a long procession of planned missions to Europa and the other Galilean moons of Jupiter that began […]

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7 months ago

The famous dictionary that threw out the rules of grammar

My mother went ballistic when Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language appeared in 1961. She’d taught English for a time during the Depression. Then, there was a right way and a wrong way to express yourself. Rules were rules—and English teachers knew exactly what they were. But even back then the linguists […]

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9 months ago

A brilliant account of the 1918 flu epidemic

A century ago a pandemic disease far more lethal than COVID-19 killed an estimated fifty to one hundred million people around the world—as many as one out of every twenty people then alive. The 1918 flu epidemic erupted during a war that had already killed tens of millions and at a time when medical science […]

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last year

Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book explains recent history

The rap about Malcolm Gladwell in exalted literary and intellectual circles is that he writes about social psychology but isn’t a social psychologist. Usually, though, the criticism is less polite. Although his books are bestsellers and widely cited in public discourse—think especially of The Tipping Point—critics are sometimes savage. Gladwell’s response is that he is […]

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a couple of years ago

Climate change is worse than you think—much, much worse

They’ve been lying to us. Or, better put, shading the truth. And I’m not referring to the climate deniers in the Trump White House and Congress. We know they’re lying. The problem is, the scientists who have been warning us about climate change aren’t telling the whole truth. In fact, that bad habit is so […]

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a couple of years ago

A top copyeditor explains how to write clear English

So, chances are you’re convinced you know perfectly well how to write clear English. But, just to be sure, take this quick quiz: How many of these rules do you follow when you write? Never begin a sentence with “and” or “but.” Never split an infinitive. Never end a sentence with a preposition. Contractions aren’t […]

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