In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, we examine its essential insights, its lingering questions, the latest work it has sparked, and the allied fields of research that have resulted.
The nature of time is an age-old conundrum for physicists, philosophers, biologists and theologians. The Newtonian picture of time—a kind of cosmic clock that ticks off time in a manner that applies identically to everyone and everything—tightly aligns with our experience. But with special and general relativity, Einstein showed the fallacy inherent in experience.
Is our response to music hard-wired or culturally determined? Is the reaction to rhythm and melody universal or influenced by environment? John Schaefer, scientist Daniel Levitin, and musical artist Bobby McFerrin engage in live performances and cross-cultural demonstrations to illustrate music’s noteworthy interaction with the brain and our emotions.
As computers become progressively faster and more powerful, they’ve gained the impressive capacity to simulate increasingly realistic environments. Which raises a question familiar to aficionados of The Matrix—might life and the world as we know it be a simulation on a super advanced computer?
What are scientists looking for when searching for alien life? A lot, it turns out: the search for extraterrestrials requires the help from astronomers, planetary scientists, chemists, computer scientists, and geneticists, just to name a few. But are we barking up the wrong carbon-based tree?
Immanuel Kant, who coined the term genius in the 1700s, defined it as the rare capacity to independently understand concepts that would normally have to be taught by another person. Since then, the spectrum of abilities that we call genius has widened, but pivotal questions remain: What exactly is genius?
Consciousness is a terrible curse. Or so says a character in screenwriter/director Charlie Kaufman’s Being John Malkovich. Part theater of the absurd and part neuroscience fiction, the Oscar-winning filmmaker’s work captures the splintering between what we perceive and what we feel as our brains grapple with multiple layers of reality.
A second doesn’t always feel like a second—time can seem to slow down if you’re riding a death-defying roller coaster, or speed up while you’re having a night out on the town. But just what’s going on inside our heads to skew our perception of time?