Category Archives: science

Why Happiness Is Hard to Find—in the Brain – Issue 60: Searches

I arrived for my meeting with Professor Chambers at the pleasant Cardiff pub near his office where we’d agreed to have lunch. He was already sitting at the back of the room, and waved me a hello as I entered.

Professor Chris Chambers is a disarmingly laidback Australian in his late 30s. In what seemed to be a complete submission to cultural stereotypes, he was, at the time, wearing a T-shirt and baggy shorts (despite it raining outside). He is also completely bald, to a “shiny” extent. I’ve met several younger male professors now who have little to no hair on their heads. My theory is that their big powerful brains generate so much heat that it scorches the follicles from the inside.

Pavel L Photo … Read the rest

Can You Overdose on Happiness? – Issue 60: Searches

It is a good question, but I was a little surprised to see it as the title of a research paper in a medical journal: “How Happy Is Too Happy?”

Yet there it was in a publication from 2012. The article was written by two Germans and an American, and they were grappling with the issue of how we should deal with the possibility of manipulating people’s moods and feeling of happiness through brain stimulation. If you have direct access to the reward system and can turn the feeling of euphoria up or down, who decides what the level should be? The doctors or the person whose brain is on the line?

What happiness looks like: Deep brain stimulation involves the implantation of electrodes in the … Read the rest

Mining in Space Could Lead to Conflicts on Earth – Facts So Romantic

Platinum-group metals in space may serve the same role as oil has on Earth, threatening to extend geopolitical struggles into astropolitical ones, something Trump is keen on preparing for. Yesterday he said he’s seriously weighing the idea of a “Space Force” military branch.Illustration by Maciej Frolow / Getty Images

Space mining is no longer science fiction. By the 2020s, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries—for-profit space-mining companies cooperating with NASA—will be sending out swarms of tiny satellites to assess the composition of hurtling hunks of cosmic debris, identify the most lucrative ones, and harvest them. They’ve already developed prototype spacecraft to do the job. Some people—like Massachusetts Institute of Technology planetary scientist Sara Seager, former NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver, and science writer Phil Plait—argue … Read the rest