Science

Building Utopia in Space

Utopianism is having a moment. Everything from the box office success of big-budget science fiction films like Interstellar and The Martian to the groundswell of support for the Green New Deal ...

More Nurture, Less Nature?

What if genes weren’t the perfect blueprint we’ve been led to believe they are? What if your body was constantly being shaped by its environment? What if your children’s ...

Our Mothers, Ourselves

I intended to begin with a personal admission. “I didn’t like being pregnant,” I was going to write, before describing the bodily discomforts (hypersalivation!) and psychic stresses (due date during ...

Unsex the Lab

Kit Owens, the protagonist of Megan Abbott’s Give Me Your Hand, is a postdoc in the research lab of academic rock star Dr. Lena Severin; Severin has just received a prestigious research grant when Kit’s ...

The World in a Blot of Ink

What might this be? A moth, a bat, a winged musical conductor, a spaceship? Whatever you may see, you are also looking at Card I of the Rorschach test ...

Science and the Wolf

Once upon a time there was Science. Pure of heart, untainted by the kingdom’s societal structures or geopolitical context, Science was simply Science: an apolitical quest for objective truth and beauty. ...

Losing Their Religion

Rarely do we pity the pious Victorian patriarch. Why should we sympathize with the privileged men who stoutly believed that God had placed them at the apex of a “Great Chain of Being”? One of the ...

“The Passing of the Great Race” @100

2016 marks a century since the publication of The Passing of the Great Race, a book described by the late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould as “the most influential tract of American scientific racism ...

The Inventor of Nature

In 1869 the centennial of Alexander von Humboldt’s birth was celebrated around the world, including in New York City, where bands and speakers gathered in Central Park to honor his legacy. He was ...

Speaking in Science

Some of today’s most provocative scientific tools are being built to do science themselves. IBM’s Watson, for instance, is being developed to sift through data at volumes far exceeding the capability ...

Sleep and Synchronicity

Two spectacularly haunting new works of fiction share a frightening and resonant premise: a world in which sleep is disappearing. Insomnia has a storied history, of course, as both ailment and plot ...

Shallow Botany

A birth is a fine way to begin a novel, so it is not in itself a bad sign that Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book, The Signature of All Things, opens with the delivery of its protagonist, Alma Whittaker ...