Who Owns History?

by Lawrence Weschler Added 24.04.2017
Left: Henry Taylor, “The Times Thay Aint a Changing Fast Enough!” (2016); Right: Dana Schutz, “Open Casket” (2017); courtesy of the Whitney Museum NEW YORK – Take a look at the two paintings above. Both draw on iconic photographic images from the ugly and fraught history of race relations in the United States, and both are among the most discussed works featured at the current Whitney Biennial at New York City’s Whitney Museum of American...

Six articles to make you optimistic about the planet’s future this Earth Day

by Sarah Bassett Added 22.04.2017
April 22 is Earth Day, one of the world’s largest environmental movements against climate change. It’s a time when people around the world come together to defend the environment against the impact of humans. With a climate change-denying Trump administration in the White House and fear-inducing predictions of what our world might look like a few degrees warmer, it’s understandable that many people have lost hope about the future of our...

Old Masters in London

by David Galenson Added 19.04.2017
London’s National Gallery has created six new exhibition rooms on its ground floor, and has filled them with paintings by Dutch and Flemish masters. After spending a few hours immersed in such quintessentially Dutch works as Meindert Hobbema’s 1689 landscape of the tree-lined entry to Middelharnis and Jan van der Heyden’s meticulous 1660 view of Amsterdam’s Westerkerk, I was a bit surprised to walk out of the Gallery and find myself in...

Creativity: Revolutions and Evolutions

by David Galenson Added 18.04.2017
One reason why creativity is often falsely assumed to be restricted to conceptual innovation, and experimental innovation is overlooked, is that there is frequently a great difference in how conspicuously the two types of innovation arrive. Conceptual innovations often appear dramatically and suddenly, whereas experimental innovations typically arrive gradually and almost imperceptibly. Conceptual innovations are often formulated and...

This Easter, an ancient branch of Christianity faces a threat to its very existence

by Mariz Tadros Added 14.04.2017
In the run-up to Easter, it is customary for Egypt’s Coptic Christians to go to church every evening. Churches are packed with worshippers – as they were on Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017, when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the altar in a Coptic church in Tanta, about 90 miles north of Cairo, killing 29 people and injuring 71 – some of them gravely. Three hours later, another suicide bomber tried to enter St Mark’s Church in Alexandria,...

What Google and Facebook must do about one of their biggest problems

by Vivek Wadhwa Added 14.04.2017
Google could lose as much as $750 million because of a boycott by advertisers, according to Nomura Research. Companies are protesting against the placement of their ads next to extremist and hateful content. An even worse offender is Facebook, which had enabled the propagation of fake news that may have influenced the outcome of the U.S. elections. The two companies have reaped massive profits from the spread of misinformation; yet they have...

China: Inside the world's largest higher education boom

by Katherine Stapleton Added 12.04.2017
A record-breaking 8m students will graduate from Chinese universities in 2017. This figure is nearly ten times higher than it was in 1997 and is more than double the number of students who will graduate this year in the US. Just two decades ago, higher education in China was a rare privilege enjoyed by a small, urban elite. But everything changed in 1999, when the government launched a program to massively expand university attendance. In...

The many reasons why less is more for the people choosing modest lives

by Teresa Belton Added 07.04.2017
The idea of a life lived modestly is gaining traction. Ten years ago, Samantha Weinberg, a mother of two young children, spent a year not shopping. Her aim was to reduce her environmental impact. The next year, Mark Boyle, founder of the online Freeconomy community, embarked on a life without money in order to sever his connection with it. Since then, others have joined this “Not Spending” movement. Going against social norms, pledging to...

How a basic income could help build community in an age of individualism

by Max Harris and Alexander E. Kentikelenis Added 06.04.2017
What if every citizen had a guaranteed income, regardless of whether they are at work? In an age of austerity and the rolling back of social policies, this idea may sound radical – but it is gaining momentum. Advocates of a universal basic income are already piloting it at a national level in Finland, and similar projects are planned by the Canadian province of Ontario and the Dutch city of Utrecht. In the developing world, the charity...

What history reveals about surges in anti-Semitism and anti-immigrant sentiments

by Ingrid Anderson Added 05.04.2017
This February, more than 100 gravestones were vandalized at the Chesed Shel Emeth Society Cemetery outside of St. Louis, Missouri and at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has called anti-Semitism in the U.S. a “very serious concern.” An ADL task force confirmed that 800 journalists in the U.S. have been targeted with more than 19,000 anti-Semitic tweets. The organization also reported an...

Aliens, very strange universes and Brexit  – Martin Rees Q&A

by Martin Rees interviewed by Matt Warren Added 03.04.2017
Martin Rees is Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics, at the University of Cambridge, the Astronomer Royal, a member of Britain’s House of Lords, and a former President of the Royal Society. The following interview was conducted at Trinity College, Cambridge, by The Conversation’s Matt Warren. Into space Q: How big is the universe … and is it the only one? Our cosmic horizons have grown enormously over the last century, but there...

The media: Still Afflicting the Comfortable

by Michael Johnson Added 01.04.2017
The international media – particularly U.S. print and broadcast outlets -- are accustomed to high tension with the governments they cover in Washington. The press has always relished its adversarial, intrusive and disruptive role, and presidents have never liked it. In the 1930s H.L. Mencken defined the mission of the press as “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable”. And yet a strange peace is now emerging between the...

Touch in infancy is important for healthy brain development

by Harriet Dempsey-Jones Added 25.03.2017
Touch underpins our social world and, evidence suggests, it may even help to reduce anxiety and provide pain relief. But can touch shape the actual organisation of our brains? Research is now revealing that experiences with touch – especially in infancy – do indeed shape brain development. This was recently demonstrated by a team of researchers, led by Nathalie Maitre, at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The researchers...

How the right diet can control diabetes and reduce its massive economic costs

by Chris Proud, Grant Brinkworth and Manny Noakes Added 24.03.2017
More than 350 million people worldwide suffer from type 2 diabetes. The condition is already rampant in several Western countries and numbers are now rising fast in emerging economies, such as India and China. But the right kind of dietary changes could dramatically reduce the impact of the illness on both patients and economies. Alongside the impact of the disease and its associated complications on the lives of patients and their families,...

Sugar isn't just empty, fattening calories -- it's making us sick

by Robert Lustig Added 24.03.2017
Children are manifesting increased rates of adult diseases like hypertension or high triglycerides. And they are getting diseases that used to be unheard of in children, like Type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease. So why is this happening? Everyone assumes this is the result of the obesity epidemic – too many calories in, too few out. Children and adults are getting fat, so they’re getting sick. And it is generally assumed that no one...

Wisdom and Creativity

by David Galenson Added 22.03.2017
Academic psychologists have promulgated the myth that wisdom hinders creativity. Robert Sternberg, for example, contended that “the kinds of thinking required to be creative and wise are different.” In his opinion, “Creative thinking is often brash whereas wise thinking is balanced.” He agreed with Harvey Lehman, who had earlier recognized that “the old usually possess greater wisdom and erudition,” but believed that these were accompanied...

Wilders vs. Spinoza

by Steven Nadler Added 18.03.2017
MADISON – A Dutch demagogue stirs up his followers in a campaign against immigrants. Appealing to the public’s fears and nativist passions, he declares the culture of the immigrants antithetical to Dutch values and denounces their religion, which “scandalizes Christians,” as a kind of infectious disease. In speeches and essays, he claims that the faith of these immigrants, while perhaps sincerely held, “does not have God as its source.” If...

Gut bacteria play a role in long-term weight gain

by Ana Valdes Added 18.03.2017
Weight gain happens when we consume more food than we can burn, and weight loss happens when we burn more energy than we consume. But why do some people seem to eat whatever they want and not gain weight, and others appear to gain weight even if they eat reasonable amounts of food? The answer, at least in part, may be found in the bacteria that live in our guts. Our latest research, published in the International Journal of Obesity, shows...

A Life that Mattered

by Peter Singer Added 15.03.2017
PRINCETON – On January 1, Derek Parfit, one of the greatest philosophers of my generation, died. Just a year earlier, in a poll on a leading philosophy website, Parfit had been voted the most important living Anglophone philosopher. Of all the philosophers I have known since I began to study the subject more than 50 years ago, Parfit was the closest to a genius. Getting into a philosophical argument with him was like playing chess with a...

Is there a link between diet, obesity and Alzheimer’s?

by Catherine Itsiopoulos Added 11.03.2017
Alzheimer’s disease is more common among older people but it’s not a normal part of ageing. And as the global population ages, the rate of Alzheimer’s is expected to rise – from 36 million to 115 million sufferers by 2050. The definitive cause of Alzheimer’s disease is still unknown. What we do know is that the brain of an Alzheimer’s sufferer develops abnormal protein build-up that interferes with neurological signals. This causes brain...
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