Ellen Stofan is the NASA chief scientist, serving as principal advisor on the agency’s science programs. Prior to her appointment, Stofan was vice president of Proxemy Research and an honorary …
What are the special challenges, pitfalls, opportunities and rare triumphs of seeking and synthesizing the essence of someone whose passion—quantum physics, number theory, nucleic acids, atomic species, computational design, gravitational phenomena—is so thoroughly foreign to the concerns of everyday life?
Public debate, pitting atheist against believer, typically yields a polarized picture. Might a more nuanced conversation that transcends simplistic assertions, and weaves insights from physics, biology, and psychology provide a more fruitful exchange of ideas?
For all we understand about the universe, 96% of what’s out there still has scientists in the dark. Astronomical observations have established that familiar matter—atoms—accounts for only 4% of the weight of the cosmos. The rest—dark matter and dark energy—is invisible to our telescopes.
How do we develop a sense of who we truly are? Do we perceive ourselves as science defines us? While some scientists think our identities are a product of our …
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?
Extra dimensions of space — the idea that we are immersed in hyperspace — may be key to explaining the fundamental nature of the universe. Relativity introduced time as the fourth dimension, and Einstein’s subsequent work envisioned more dimensions still — but ultimately hit a dead end.
Sexuality and gender play a profound role in shaping identity, but for much of human history how they are determined has remained obscure. How does sexual orientation develop? What is it? Can it be changed?