The History of Virgin Births

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Zebedee spends her days largely alone, nervously swimming in a clear aquarium, there for the entertainment of tourists dining at Abu Dubai's Burj Al Arab hotel. Surrounded by only a few fish, with nary a male shark in sight, Zebedee has defied biology. For the last four years, the tiger shark has experienced… » 12/24/14 1:31pm 12/24/14 1:31pm

What Is The Most Terrifying Problem We Face Today?

It's that time of year again, when people attempt to spook us with stories about ghosts and monsters, but let's face it: With global warming cooking the planet, melting glaciers, and the build-up of nuclear arsenals, the real stories are much, much scarier. » 10/30/14 7:00am 10/30/14 7:00am

How Well Would You Fill Out Forms During a Plane Crash?

Believe it or not, this actually has been tested out, and by no less an institution than the United States Military. Learn about a fear experiment that should have led to a lot of "discharged with sincere apologies," notes on service records. » 4/06/14 4:00pm 4/06/14 4:00pm

Ask A Neurobiologist About Brain Imaging -- and the Science of Fear!

Joy Hirsch is a professor of Psychiatry and Neurobiology and one of the early developers of the fMRI — the imaging technique responsible for teaching us much of what we know about the brain's structure. She's here today to answer our questions about the brain, imaging, and fear! » 10/29/13 10:20am 10/29/13 10:20am

Why do human beings seek out terrifying experiences?

Why do we scare the hell out of ourselves? Why do we pay for the privilege? Is it pure thrill-seeking, or is it what's known as counterphobic behavior? » 9/15/13 9:00am 9/15/13 9:00am

What makes creepy things creepy?

Lots of stuff frightens us that should frighten us – things that pose a clear threat to our physical wellbeing, for example. But what about things that just... creep us out? A shadowy visage, for example, or an almost – but still not quitehuman-looking robot? » 7/03/13 10:40am 7/03/13 10:40am

Why your brain shuts down when you're afraid

Why can't you think straight when you're terrified? It's a question that haunted many people in the wake of yesterday's explosions in Boston, and neuroscience journalist Maia Szalavitz explains the answer to you over at Time. » 4/16/13 2:08pm 4/16/13 2:08pm

How to induce fear in "fearless" people

The amygdala is popularly referred to as the brain's "fear center," due to the central role it plays in regulating the body's fear response. So pivotal is this small, almond-shaped structure's involvement, that S.M. (a woman whose amygdala has been ravaged by a rare condition known as Urbach–Wiethe disease), has been… » 2/04/13 6:40am 2/04/13 6:40am

Could a single pill make you fearless?

Researchers at Duke University and the National Institutes of Health have developed an experimental drug that calms the fears of anxious mice. They also believe that the exact same changes in brain chemistry could work on humans — a discovery that could lead to a "courage pill." But would we want to live in a world… » 6/13/12 11:26am 6/13/12 11:26am

Why do people pee when they're frightened?

Have you ever been so frightened or surprised by something that you peed yourself, even just a little? It's ok, you're in the company of friends — nobody is going to make fun of you. After all, it's not like it was your fault; strictly speaking, if you did leak a little bit the last time you were scared, it was… » 10/31/11 11:00am 10/31/11 11:00am

The Science of Horror Movie Screams

As horror-flick titles go, Night of the Living Chaos and Rosemary's Nonlinearity aren't the catchiest. But filmmakers know that chaos - the mathematical kind - is scary. Now scientists know it too. » 10/21/11 3:14pm 10/21/11 3:14pm

Nine substances (and one sound) that can induce fear, anxiety and dread

So you want to terrify somebody. It's the kind of thing we all want, some of the time — and it turns out there are some substances (and sounds) you can use to do it fairly reliably. For your morbid edification, we present this list of fear-inducing chemicals, proteins, hormones, and frequencies. » 10/20/11 12:01pm 10/20/11 12:01pm

How scientists discovered the "fear center" of the brain

Fear is one of the most universally understood human emotions. Every one of us is familiar with the feelings, behaviors, and symptoms engendered by fear — so familiar, in fact, that we can sense it in the voices and actions of our friends and loved ones, and even recognize it in the facial expressions of complete… » 10/12/11 9:00am 10/12/11 9:00am

Why you shouldn't challenge a breast-feeding mom to play Call of Duty

When you happen upon a couple of bear cubs in the woods, what's the first thing that should come to mind? If you answered "I wanna squeeze 'em," you're wrong. It should be "where's the mom?" And with good reason. Numerous non-human mammals are known to exhibit heightened levels of aggression in defense of their young. » 8/30/11 5:20pm 8/30/11 5:20pm

Ten Fear Responses That Make No Sense, And Why We Have Them

Nature, we are told, equipped us with all sorts of instincts to help us survive. However, most of them just get us into trouble. Especially the fear response ones. It's true that we live in a very different world than the primates who evolved these responses, but often what we do when we're afraid doesn't seem to make… » 6/03/11 10:14am 6/03/11 10:14am

10 logos and TV intros that inexplicably scared the hell out of us

Yesterday we posted Rodney Ascher's The S From Hell, a short documentary about people afraid of the 1960s Screen Gems logo. But it turns out that Screen Gems isn't the only logo to inspire profound existential terror. » 5/01/11 3:15pm 5/01/11 3:15pm

The strange case of a woman who felt no fear

A woman with a rare disease that destroyed the fear center of her brain is completely unable to be scared or recognize when other people are afraid. Her story reveals why we need negative emotions, and could help PTSD sufferers. » 12/16/10 11:54am 12/16/10 11:54am

The Creatures Who Eat Your Fear for Breakfast

Feel that tingling on the back of your neck? That could be a killer parasite sucking on your fear. And that spooky clown at your cousin's birthday party? A creature from another dimension who thinks humans taste better when we're afraid. For some science fiction characters, fear is a five-course meal. From… » 10/21/08 8:40am 10/21/08 8:40am