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Michael S. Gazzaniga

Michael S. Gazzaniga is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he heads the new SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind. He is one of the leading researchers in cognitive neuroscience, the study of the neural basis of mind. In 1961, Gazzaniga graduated from Dartmouth College. In 1964, he received a Ph.D. in …

Science figures out if bearded men make better fighters

You might not think of your neighborhood hipster as a fearsome figure but if you imagine the Vikings, one of history’s most famous fighting forces, chances are you would envision them all with beards. The enemies America has been fighting for decades in places like the “Greater” Middle East,” as it was called under the first Bush administration, have also …

Leonard Mlodinow

Big Think Edge helps organizations by catalyzing conversation around the topics most critical to 21st century business success. Led by the world’s foremost experts, our dynamic learning programs are short-form, mobile, and immediately actionable.

The serious health consequences of not dreaming

Carl Jung believed dreams represent archetypal realities obscured during waking consciousness. Dreams reveal more than they conceal, he wrote, countering Freud’s idea that subconscious movies were by design secretive. Dreams are an integral component of Jung’s theory of individuation, in which our conscious and unconscious lives are integrated. In Jungian philosophy, the conflict and chaos experienced in dreams ultimately bring …

Random fact roundup, March 19th—26th, 2018!

— Hamburgers originated in and get their name from Hamberg, Germany. Nobody is quite sure when the first one was cooked, but a recipe for something similar to a modern hamburger appeared in that part of the world towards the end of the 1800’s, with the first supposed burger in America in 1885. The humble hamburger gained in popularity and was …

‘Plastic island’ in Pacific now twice the size of Texas

It’s a dubious honor, but humanity has managed to amass a giant trash mass about twice the size of Texas, or three times the size of France, or about 1,600 miles.  The actual area itself is hard to measure, due to several factors. First, the trash itself isn’t exactly the kind of thing you could walk over — it’s more …

Study: Ancient women with elongated skulls were medieval “treaty brides” traded for politics

Scientists have a strange theory for how the 1,400-year-old remains of women who possessed features completely unlike the local population – including elongated skulls – ended up in present-day Bavaria. Joachim Burger, an anthropologist and population geneticist at Johannes Gutenberg University, and colleagues posit the women were high-status “treaty brides” from Romania and Bulgaria sent to marry men of distant …

Maia Szalavitz

Maia Szalavitz is widely viewed as one of the premier American journalists covering addiction and drugs. A neuroscience writer for TIME.com and a former cocaine and heroin addict, she understands the science and its personal dimensions in a way that few others can. She is co-author of Born for Love: Why Empathy is Essential—and Endangered and The Boy Who Was …

Understanding addiction: Why your brain gets hooked on gambling

Maia Szalavitz: Addiction is: compulsive behavior despite negative consequences.  And it’s really important to start by defining addiction because for a long time we really defined it very poorly.  We used to think that addiction was “needing a substance to function”.  And what that resulted in was that cocaine was “not addictive” because cocaine does not produce physical withdrawal that is …

Study: Blind mice see again thanks to artificial photoreceptors

A team of scientists in China just took a big step toward developing technology that could one day restore vision to the blind. Researchers at Fudan University and the University of Science and Technology of China recently published a paper in the journal Nature Communications that outlines how they used artificial photoreceptors to restore vision to blind mice. Photoreceptors are structures …

Jana Roose

Jana Roose is a writer and editor from Sydney, Australia who joined Big Think as associate editor in 2016. Formerly, she was the deputy editor of Yen magazine, and has written for NYLON, Frankie, Hello May, Smith Journal, and ABC Books. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, music and, much to her own disappointment, Filet-o-Fish burgers. Enter an ancient …

Mini ice age? Why the Sun will lose 7% of its power in about 30 years

A new scientific study has just been published that illustrates a phenomenon known as the solar “grand minimum.” Also, known as the “prolonged sunspot minimum,” it’s a period when the Sun’s magnetic pull will diminish, sunspots will be much less frequent, and less ultraviolet radiation will make it to planet Earth — all due to random fluctuations in the Sun’s …

Transgender woman becomes the world’s first to breastfeed baby

In the first officially recorded case of its kind, a 30-year-old transgender woman was able to breastfeed her child after completing an experimental treatment regimen.  “This is a very big deal,” Joshua Safer of Boston Medical Center, who wasn’t involved with the treatment, told New Scientist. “Many transgender women are looking to have as many of the experiences of non-transgender women …

Skiing robots get their own Winter Olympics on South Korean mountain

If you think A.I. is going to take over humanity anytime soon, here’s a sight that’ll make you reconsider: clumsy, child-size robots skiing (and crashing) down a mountain. The robots competed this week in South Korea’s “Edge of Robot: Ski Robot Challenge,” which included eight robotics teams from across the country, and was held at a 260-foot skiing course at Welli …

Amazing astronomy: How neutron stars create ripples in space-time

Michelle Thaller: A few decades ago we actually saw explosions in the sky somewhere out in space that we really didn’t understand at all. They gave intense bursts to something called gamma rays. And gamma rays are the highest energy kind of light that is possible. Now you probably heard of, you know, ultraviolet rays from the sun, they give …

Paul Ratner

Paul is a writer and filmmaker.  His award-winning films have played at film festivals around the world.  Recently, he finished directing a feature documentary about philosophy, fringe science and nuclear history. He is currently working on his first novel.  Paul has a penchant for history, science, philosophy and rare images. You can follow his work at paulratnerimagines.com, on Facebook and on Twitter. Is …

Orion Jones

I’m a New York-based editor, writer, and director, interested in narrative storytelling to contextualize data and information. Offline passions are theatre, vegan food, and listening to how others see the world. I live with my wife and our furniture in Harlem. Follow me @oriondjones. While more controlled psychostimulants like amphetamines and cocaine facilitate a rush of blood to the whole …

Frank Jacobs

From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps. While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful …

Jason Gots

Jason Gots is a New York-based writer, editor, and podcast producer. For Big Think, he writes (and sometimes illustrates) the blog “Overthinking Everything with Jason Gots” and is the creator and host of the “Think Again” podcast. In previous lives, Jason worked at Random House Children’s Books, taught reading and writing to middle schoolers and community college students, co-founded a theatre …

Physicist Michio Kaku – Timid Monkeys on Mars – Think Again – a Big Think Podcast #136

    Subscribe on Google Play, Stitcher, or iTunes Come talk to us on Twitter: @bigthinkagain Back in the old days, if your species was faced with an existential threat, you were stuck hoping for some advantageous mutation. Maybe an extra fin or a slightly more sophisticated eyeball. Outwitting fate was pretty much out of the question.  And as much as we might prefer to just …

Derek Beres

Derek Beres, a Los Angeles-based author, music producer, and yoga/fitness instructor, looks at a range of issues affecting the world’s various spiritual communities in an attempt to sift through hyperbole and find truly universal solutions to prevalent issues facing humanity in the 21st century.  A recent study from Ontario measured the brain waves of improvisational jazz pianists, finding that the more …

Michelle Thaller

Dr. Michelle Thaller is an astronomer who studies binary stars and the life cycles of stars. She is Assistant Director of Science Communication at NASA. She went to college at Harvard University, completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, Calif. then started working for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) Spitzer Space Telescope. After a hugely successful mission, …

How NASA averted the 2060 apocalypse

Michelle Thaller: Well, I am one of the directors of science [at NASA], and my specialty is communications. There’s the idea that a mission ends when you return the data, when you make the discoveries, when the scientists publish their papers. To me, the mission doesn’t end until you have some sort of public involvement, until you have some sort …

Teodora Zareva

Teodora Zareva is an entrepreneur, writer, board games geek and a curious person at large. Her professional path has taken her from filmmaking and photography to writing, TEDx organizing, teaching, and social entrepreneurship. She has lived and worked in the U.S. and Bulgaria and is currently doing her MBA at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. Her biggest …

Philip Perry

A former nonprofit manager and teacher, Philip is now full-time writer and blogger. His work has appeared on Your Tango, STEMJobs, Hack Writers, NJ.com, Quarterly Access, and more. He has lived in Africa, Asia, and for a short time in Europe, and can be found at home, in New Jersey, with his lovely wife and friendly cat. DST has implications on our history, …

Human brains can recover after flatlining, study suggests

When a person’s brain activity flatlines, it doesn’t always mean the damage is irreversible, suggests a new paper published in Annals of Neurology. The paper outlines the first-ever observations of a phenomenon that occurs as the brain begins to die, and the findings could help medical professionals better determine when someone has officially died, and possibly change organ donation protocols. …

Brandon A. Weber

Brandon Weber has been writing and creating viral joy on the Innerwebz for over 7 years at Upworthy, The Progressive, Big Think, and more. His book on the forgotten history of working people, veterans, and other marginalized people is available on Amazon and Powell’s.  Welcome news as the flu pandemic begins to subside. “Earth to lunar surface… my, you’re looking very …

Stephen Johnson

Stephen Johnson is a St. Louis-based writer whose work has appeared in U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Eleven Magazine, Cheapism, Vox Magazine, The Missourian and other publications.  In a state-of-the-nation speech just weeks before Russia’s presidential election, President Vladimir Putin claimed his country had two new nuclear-powered weapons systems. The findings could help medical professionals better determine the official …

Study: Diabetes falls into five types, not just two

Diabetes can best be classified into five clusters instead of two, suggests new research. The findings could help doctors provide diabetes patients with tailored treatment programs – also called “precision medicine” – and help explain why some patients respond to medications differently. Currently, the medical community broadly recognizes two types of diabetes, which is a disease that impairs the body’s …

Robby Berman

I’m a writer, musician, and father living in the very upper Midwest with my wife, two daughters, three cats, and countless questions. I’m especially interested in animal rights, creativity, politics, the nature of things and time, and in making a worthwhile contribution. You can follow me @everyrobby. The Nonhuman Rights Project turns to philosophy to persuade courts to honor chimpanzees’ …