Thank you for writing, Mr. Feynman.

Today is the birthday of Richard Feynman, the great scientist, poet, storyteller and merry prankster. It’s hard to write about him because I know I can never do him justice, and because sometimes when I read over his words I get all heartachey. I think of him as a mentor, even though I can’t —[…]

Your Brain on Words

One of my favorite podcasts is the consistently brilliant Brain Science Podcast hosted by Ginger Campbell. She interviews loads of fascinating brain-science researchers and writers, and somehow manages to keep a nice balance between complex science and plain-speak. It’s a cool podcast if you’re curious about how our minds process the universe and why we do the[…]

Ernst Haeckel’s “Art Forms of Nature”

  The cool thing about people who are curious about the universe (my favorite kind of human) is that they all express their curiosity in different ways. Some spend their lives doing monotonous experiments in laboratories (bless them), some make nature shows, some teach, and some write science fiction. Others stomp around in awesome “hello-I’m-a-naturalist-adventurer”[…]

Skepticism and science fiction

Some of my favorite skeptical podcasts have dipped into science fiction in the last few months. Point of Inquiry has had two interesting SF writers on as guests: David Brin, who talked about romanticism and how it relates to fantasy, and about keeping  protagonists in jeopardy even when they live in a civilizations full of[…]

Review: Sleights of Mind

Aside from being interesting for anyone who is curious about how magic tricks work (or about how to be less gullible in general), Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our Everyday Deceptions is a pretty fascinating book for writers, mainly because of all the parallels between creating illusions on the stage and on[…]

People are the most interesting books

I was at a friend’s place the other day, nosing through a treasured little book that found him at a flea market, when I discovered this quote. So I stole it for you when he wasn’t looking. (Always steal a truth when you get the chance.) “People are the most interesting books in the world.[…]

Word Magicians

I love magic, and the neuroscience of magic, and I especially love the idea of the “attentional spotlight.” It’s fun to think about how we are these weird, sensitive mammals with semi-uncontrollable focus beams shooting out of the front of our heads (unscientifically speaking). And it’s even cooler that magicians can misdirect these focus beams,[…]

Fantasy is good for children

It’s awesome when science confirms something you already thought, like that maybe fantasy stories are not bad for you but actually help you function in the real world because they stretch your brain. Researchers at Lancaster University, UK, have completed a study that shows how children who have just experienced an imaginary world have an enhanced capacity[…]

Humans: the Metaphor Gatherers

Even though I think life and reality is pretty fascinating , I love to go and sit somewhere quiet, all alone, and read a bunch of stuff that is totally made up and often structured in a fairly predictable way. Why is that? What’s so pleasing about reading fiction stories? George Lakoff might have uncovered one[…]