June 15, 2021

Science

Science, Groupthink and a Wuhan Lab Leak



Photo:

Martin Kozlowski

Regarding Steven Quay and Richard Muller’s “The Science Suggests a Wuhan Lab Leak” (op-ed, June 7): It has been 18 months since the pandemic broke out. Neither the original source of the virus nor the intermediary animal has been traced to confirm the zoonotic spread. For all these months, the Chinese have had the means to find out. In the absence of confirmation of a proof favoring the natural-origin theory, the lab-leak theory is gaining traction. The presence of the double CGG sequence is definitely building scientific circumstantial evidence for the

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Gravitational waves confirm Stephen Hawking’s black hole law

Despite their mysterious nature, black holes are thought to follow certain simple rules. Now, one of the most famous black hole laws, predicted by physicist Stephen Hawking, has been confirmed with gravitational waves.

According to the black hole area theorem, developed by Hawking in the early 1970s, black holes can’t decrease in surface area over time. The area theorem fascinates physicists because it mirrors a well-known physics rule that disorder, or entropy, can’t decrease over time. Instead, entropy consistently increases (SN: 7/10/15).

That’s “an exciting hint that black hole areas are something fundamental and important,” says astrophysicist Will

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Where the Grass is Greener, Except When It’s ‘Nonfunctional Turf’

If you’re looking for a sign of the End Times, here’s one: Las Vegas, the city where seemingly anything and everything is condoned, has made grass — the ornamental kind — illegal.

Much of the West is experiencing the worst drought in decades, a “megadrought” that has kindled early wildfires and severe water shortages — and the seasonal heat has hardly begun. “There’s a 100 percent chance that it gets worse before it gets better,” Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, tells the graphics editor Nadja Popovich in The Times today. “We have the

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What Is Consciousness? Is the Universe Conscious?

  • Is the universe a conscious being, like a gigantic widely dispersed human brain?
  • Scientists have long questioned how consciousness and science mix.
  • Two mathematicians have turned one theory into a crunchable math model.

    In upcoming research, scientists will attempt to show the universe has consciousness. Yes, really. No matter the outcome, we’ll soon learn more about what it means to be conscious—and which objects around us might have a mind of their own.

    You think science is badass. So do we. Let’s nerd out over it together.

    What will that mean for how we treat objects and the world

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    What really makes junk food bad for us? Here’s what the science says

    Fun, cheap and tasty, but perhaps not the healthiest option

    Sharon Pruitt/EyeEm/Getty Images

    CUT down on fatty food. No, sugar. Aim for a Mediterranean diet. And remember to eat more plants…

    The variability of healthy eating advice has become a cliché in itself. Yet despite all the contradictions, there is one thing that many agree on: we should avoid junk food. Until recently though, no one could give you a decent reason why. Gastronomic snobbery aside, science lacked an agreed definition of what junk food actually is, and that has made it difficult to know whether we

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    Review: John Tresch on Edgar Allan Poe and American Science

    Illustration by Kensuke Koike; Bettmann / Getty

    This article was published online on June 11, 2021.

    In the early and macabre days of coronavirus shutdowns, Edgar Allan Poe was trending. “The Masque of the Red Death,” his Gothic tale from 1842, became in March of 2020 a go-to source for allegory: A prince whose state is overrun with something like hemorrhagic fever invites 1,000 noble friends to stay inside his well-stocked keep. They amuse themselves for months in quarantine with dancers and buffoons until, one night, a ghost appears and kills them all. This parable felt

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