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Getting Googled by Your Doctor

Getting Googled by Your Doctor

Resume Reading —Closene day not long ago, police forcibly brought a man to the hospital after he updated his profile picture on Facebook. He was in his late 20s and had a long history of suicide attempts, a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and a close relationship with his mental-healthcare team, which typically consists of physicians, nurses, and social workers. On the day of the incident, the team leader—the doctor who makes medical treatment decisions—reportedly stumbled on his Facebook page by accident. Since she had visited it several months earlier to keep tabs on him, his name...

September 4, 2017
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Aging Is a Communication Breakdown

Aging Is a Communication Breakdown

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the 18th-century poet and philosopher, believed life was hardwired with archetypes, or models, which instructed its development. Yet he was fascinated with how life could, at the same time, be so malleable. One day, while meditating on a leaf, the poet had what you might call a proto-evolutionary thought: Plants were never created “and then locked into the given form” but have instead been given, he later wrote, a “felicitous mobility and plasticity that allows them to grow and adapt themselves to many different conditions in many different places.” A rediscovery...

February 23, 2020
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Cosmic Rays May Explain Life’s Bias for Right-Handed DNA - Abstractions on Nautilus

Cosmic Rays May Explain Life’s Bias for Right-Handed DNA - Abstractions on Nautilus

f you could shrink small enough to descend the genetic helix of any animal, plant, fungus, bacterium or virus on Earth as though it were a spiral staircase, you would always find yourself turning right—never left. It’s a universal trait in want of an explanation.Chemists and biologists see no obvious reason why all known life prefers this structure. “Chiral” molecules exist in paired forms that mirror each other the way a right-handed glove matches a left-handed one. Essentially all known chemical reactions produce even mixtures of both. In principle, a DNA or RNA strand made from...

July 11, 2020
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The Idea of Entropy Has Led Us Astray - Issue 86: Energy - Nautilus

The Idea of Entropy Has Led Us Astray - Issue 86: Energy - Nautilus

Resume Reading —CloseCloseast summer, in the early days of a heat wave that would culminate in the highest temperatures ever recorded in Paris, I biked across the city to meet my friend Romain Graziani. At a sidewalk café, we sipped burnt espresso and watched the air shimmer weirdly over the cobbles. Romain, who is a scholar of ancient Chinese texts, shared an idea that had emerged from his research: There are certain goals that are most effectively pursued by not striving directly toward them. Like falling asleep, for instance. If you try hard at it, you will not succeed. The same could be...

July 11, 2020
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Why Computers Will Never Write Good Novels - Issue 95: Escape - Nautilus

Why Computers Will Never Write Good Novels - Issue 95: Escape - Nautilus

Resume Reading —CloseCloseou’ve been hoaxed.The hoax seems harmless enough. A few thousand AI researchers have claimed that computers can read and write literature. They’ve alleged that can unearth the secret formulas of fiction and film. That Bayesian software can map the plots of memoirs and comic books. That digital brains can pen primitive lyrics1 and short stories—wooden and weird, to be sure, yet evidence that computers are capable of more.But the hoax is not harmless. If it were possible to build a digital novelist or poetry analyst, then computers would be far more powerful than...

February 19, 2021
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I Am a Heroin User. I Do Not Have a Drug Problem - Issue 96: Rewired - Nautilus

I Am a Heroin User. I Do Not Have a Drug Problem - Issue 96: Rewired - Nautilus

Resume Reading —CloseClosearl Hart is a neuroscientist and Ziff Professor of Psychology at Columbia University—he was the first tenured African-American professor of sciences at Columbia. His research focuses on the “behavioral and neuropharmacological effects of psychoactive drugs in humans.” Hart’s new book, Drug Use For Grown-Ups, is a bold and engaging effort to counter what he sees as generations of misinformation and moral grandstanding about drug use. Today’s “sensationalistic media coverage of the opioid crisis continues a long, awful tradition of exploiting ignorance and fear to...

February 19, 2021
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If Aliens Exist, Here’s How We’ll Find Them - Issue 97: Wonder - Nautilus

If Aliens Exist, Here’s How We’ll Find Them - Issue 97: Wonder - Nautilus

Resume Reading —CloseCloseuppose aliens existed, and imagine that some of them had been watching our planet for its entire four and a half billion years. What would they have seen? Over most of that vast timespan, Earth’s appearance altered slowly and gradually. Continents drifted; ice cover waxed and waned; successive species emerged, evolved, with many of them becoming extinct.But in just a tiny sliver of Earth’s history—the last hundred centuries—the patterns of vegetation altered much faster than before. This signaled the start of agriculture—and later urbanization. The changes...

February 25, 2021
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Deep Learning Is Hitting a Wall

Deep Learning Is Hitting a Wall

What would it take for artificial intelligence to make real progress? Let me start by saying a few things that seem obvious,” Geoffrey Hinton, “Godfather” of deep learning, and one of the most celebrated scientists of our time, told a leading AI conference in Toronto in 2016. “If you work as a radiologist you’re like the coyote that’s already over the edge of the cliff but hasn’t looked down.” Deep learning is so well-suited to reading images from MRIs and CT scans, he reasoned, that people should “stop training radiologists now” and that it’s “just completely obvious within five years deep...

Mar 10
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That Is Not How Your Brain Works - Issue 98: Mind - Nautilus

That Is Not How Your Brain Works - Issue 98: Mind - Nautilus

Resume Reading —CloseClosehe 21st century is a time of great scientific discovery. Cars are driving themselves. Vaccines against deadly new viruses are created in less than a year. The latest Mars Rover is hunting for signs of alien life. But we’re also surrounded with scientific myths: outdated beliefs that make their way regularly into news stories.Being wrong is a normal and inevitable part of the scientific process. We scientists do our best with the tools we have, until new tools extend our senses and let us probe more deeply, broadly, or precisely. Over time, new discoveries lead us...

March 5, 2021
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The Trouble with Brain Scans - Issue 98: Mind - Nautilus

The Trouble with Brain Scans - Issue 98: Mind - Nautilus

Resume Reading —CloseClosene autumn afternoon in the bowels of UC Berkeley’s Li Ka Shing Center, I was looking at my brain. I had just spent 10 minutes inside the 3 Tesla MRI scanner, the technical name for a very expensive, very high maintenance, very magnetic brain camera. Lying on my back inside the narrow tube, I had swallowed my claustrophobia and let myself be enveloped in darkness and a cacophony of foghorn-like bleats.At the time I was a research intern at UC Berkeley’s Neuroeconomics Lab. That was the first time I saw my own brain from an MRI scan. It was a grayscale, 3-D...

April 3, 2021
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Erene Stergiopoulos

Erene Stergiopoulos

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Gary Marcus

Gary Marcus

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Jim Kozubek

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NautilusMag

NautilusMag

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