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Which Future Are We Heading Towards: Mad Max Or Star Trek?

“As the 21st century unfolds, science fiction increasingly comes to seem like a realist rather than a speculative genre,” says one essay/book review in the L.A. Review of Books. It’s just one of a few great pieces up at the LARB site right now, about the choice of futures we face: Mad Max versus Star Trek. » 6/25/15 10:43am 6/25/15 10:43am

How Dungeons And Dragons Shaped Some Of Your Favorite Authors

Junot Diaz was a Dungeon Master when he was young, and he now says that RPGs were “a sort of storytelling apprenticeship.” He “learned a lot of important essentials about storytelling, about giving the reader enough room to play.” China Miéville says a childhood playing RPGs gave him a “mania for cataloguing the… » 6/19/15 3:40pm 6/19/15 3:40pm

Can We Ensure That Our First Encounter With Alien Life Is Ethical?

In April, NASA Chief scientist Ellen Stofan predicted we would “have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade,” and “definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years.” Assuming this timeline is correct, how do we ensure the life we encounter—which astrobiologists predict will be non-sentient—will be respected? » 6/18/15 1:40pm 6/18/15 1:40pm

Far From Sterile, Some Hybrids May Start New Species

Your schoolteachers probably told you most species wouldn’t (or maybe couldn’t) successfully interbreed with one another. If some did, their hybrid offspring, like mules, couldn’t have babies of their own. That explanation was a bit oversimplified. Hybridization happens, and it may be one way new species arise. » 6/09/15 6:30pm 6/09/15 6:30pm

Read A Short Story Prequel To Fight Club, Featuring Tyler Durden

Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk’s new book of short stories comes out later this month, and among them is a story featuring the enigmatic Tyler Durden. That story, “Expedition,” is already online, so we can read what happens when a self-important writer looking to exploit the denizens of a vice district encounters… » 5/14/15 11:40am 5/14/15 11:40am

A Look Inside The Mind Of Revolutionary Neuroscientist Karl Deisseroth

If you work in neuroscience, or follow the field, you probably know who Karl Deisseroth is. At the very least, you’re familiar with his methods. He’s best known for his development of optogenetics, a technique that enables researchers to manipulate individual neurons with light. Today, Deisseroth estimates the… » 5/12/15 2:20pm 5/12/15 2:20pm

Are Female Condoms Finally Ready For A Second Chance?

Two decades after the “windsock” was nearly laughed off the market, a radical redesign has made the female condom more user-friendly. In a feature for Mosaic, Emily Anthes outlines the device’s history and how training in its use may help give women more choices for preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted… » 5/08/15 1:00am 5/08/15 1:00am

How Should We Address Science's Selective Memory?

At Slate, Ben Lillie reflects on the ongoing battle between those who would build a colossal, $1.5-billion telescope atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea and the native Hawaiians who regard the dormant volcano as a sacred place. The conflict, says Lillie, is emblematic of a larger, and largely unspoken, truth about science: that… » 5/01/15 1:40pm 5/01/15 1:40pm