Water, water, everywhere. But will we always have enough to drink? Wash away our waste? Grow crops and raise livestock? Some prominent progressives are warning that, as our population grows and our planet warms, water will become increasingly scarce, and humans will inevitably start fighting over it.
Legions of experts are trying to fathom what drove Staff Sergeant Robert Bales to allegedly slaughter 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children, on March 11.
I recently visited a doctor for one problem, and, as doctors are wont to do, he recommended tests for completely unrelated problems. My hearing has seemed muffled lately, so I wanted the doctor to peer in my ears.
Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America (Crown 2010), by the journalist Robert Whitaker, is one of the most disturbing, consequential works of investigative journalism I've read in a long time.
When, if ever, is lying justified? I talked about this conundrum this week in a freshmen humanities class, in which we were reading Immanuel Kant on morality.
Are you a war pessimist? Odds are you are. For almost a decade now, I've been asking people if they think war will ever end. I've surveyed thousands of people, young and old, liberal and conservative, hawks and doves, male and female.
In Remaking Eden (Harper Perennial, 1998), geneticist Lee Silver envisioned a future in which humanity has split into two species: "Naturals," the poor slobs who muddle along with the genes that nature gave them, and the "GenRich," who can afford to boost their physical and mental talents via genetic engineering.
In my classes, I often ask my students to wrestle with what I call damned-if-you-do-or-don't dilemmas, which offer no easy solutions. Every choice would pose certain risks and violate one valued principle or another.
What's the point of the humanities? I mean, in addition to supplying jobs for humanities teachers? I am a faculty member within the College of Arts & Letters, a.k.a.
I just started teaching my spring classes, and on the first day a student asked me if my work as a science journalist had taken me to any cool places.
Driving through my hometown recently, I passed half a dozen neighbors holding antiwar signs. One declared, "BRING ALL OUR TROOPS HOME," with "ALL" underlined.
In 1995, I critiqued evolutionary psychology in "The New Social Darwinists," an article in the December issue of Scientific American. Afterwards I got a scathing letter from Robert Trivers, whose work on altruism, parent-offspring conflict and other tendencies helped lay the foundations for evolutionary psychology, which like its precursor sociobiology attempts to explain human thought and behavior in Darwinian terms.
Environmentalism, like politics in general, is depressingly polarized these days. On one side, alarmists like the activist Bill McKibben, climatologist James Hansen and blogger Joe Romm warn that if we don't cut way back on fossil fuels—now!—civilization may collapse.
I just realized today is Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. To celebrate it, I'm posting the following column, adapted from something I wrote for The New York Times nine years ago: Three years ago, my wife, who is a pagan, decided that our family should celebrate Winter Solstice.
What does it say about particle physics that the Higgs boson has generated so much hullaballoo lately? Physicists at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland have reportedly glimpsed "tantalizing hints" of the Higgs, which might confer mass to quarks, electrons and other building blocks of our world.
All science writers, especially those of us who cover particle physics and other fields that purport to reveal ultimate reality, hear from cranks. Pre-email, I got envelopes stuffed with manuscripts, sometimes hundreds of pages long, from people unaffiliated with any research institution known to me.
I've been brooding over Buddhism lately, for several reasons. First, I read that Steve Jobs was a long-time dabbler in Buddhism and was even married in a Buddhist ceremony.
The biologist Lynn Margulis died on November 22 at the age of 73. I adapted the following essay about her from my 1996 book The End of Science.
As an adolescent, I was sometimes so glum that my mom called me Eeyore. I wallowed in The Waste Land , 1984 , Brave New World and other gloomy classics.
Last summer, I wrote about my run-in with a rabid skunk, which reinforced my disbelief in a benign, all-powerful God. If such a God exists, why does He allow some people to suffer so much, through no fault of their own?