“When we hook up with another, in sex or love (or, more rarely, both) we prove that our isolation is not permanent. In the fullness of time, we may all be linked.”
Carl Sagan’s son, Dorion, on the history of sex millions of years before humanity even existed.
“The greatest pleasure in science comes from theories that derive the solution to some deep puzzle from a small set of simple principles in a surprising way.”
Richard Feynman, artist? You bet! The beloved physicist’s little-known sketches and drawings, most of nudes:
“People sometimes say that you must believe in feelings deep inside, otherwise you’d never be confident of things like ‘My wife loves me’. But this is a bad argument. There can be plenty of evidence that somebody loves you. All through the day when you are with somebody who loves you, you see and hear lots of little tidbits of evidence, and they all add up. It isn’t purely inside feeling, like the feeling that priests call revelation. There are outside things to back up the inside feeling: looks in the eye, tender notes in the voice, little favors and kindnesses; this is all real evidence.”
Richard Dawkins on evidence in science, life, and love in a letter to his 10-year-old daughter
Photographer Berenice Abbott (1898-1991) might be best-remembered for her striking black-and-white prints of New York’s changing face in the 1930s, but she was also intensely interested in science and in making the abstract elegance and beauty of science visible and concrete. In 1939, she began experimenting with scientific imagery and capturing the whimsy of physics, mathematics and chemistry in her minimalist yet dramatic black-and-white photos. Documenting Science collects the best of that work, which culminated with the Physical Science Study Project at MIT in 1958.
“You don’t fall in love like you fall in a hole. You fall like falling through space. It’s like you jump off your own private planet to visit someone else’s planet. … PS You have to be brave.”
Why we fall in love, what we’re all made of, how dreams work, and more deceptively simple mysteries of living, explained by prominent scientists in answers to children’s questions.
“No one learns something new and then holds it entirely independent of what they already know. We incorporate it into the little edifice of personal knowledge that we have been creating in our minds our entire lives.”
“There is no such thing as an intuitive person tout court. Intuition is a domain-specific ability.”
The science of intuition:
“Humans are addicted to the hope for a final reckoning, but intellectual humility requires that we resist the temptation to assume that tools of the kind we now have are in principle sufficient to understand the universe as a whole.”
How our hunger for definitive answers robs us of the intellectual humility necessary for understanding the universe and our place in it.
The science of why the wail of the baby Universe sounded like muffled highway traffic.
Some of today’s most celebrated artists create scientific illustrations and charts to accompany short essays about the most fascinating unanswered questions on the minds of contemporary scientists across biology, astrophysics, chemistry, quantum mechanics, anthropology, and more. The questions cover such mind-bending subjects as whether there are more than three dimensions, why we sleep and dream, what causes depression, how long trees live, and why humans are capable of language.
“What makes a mathematician is not technical skill or encyclopedic knowledge but insatiable curiosity and a desire for simple beauty.”
Mathematician Paul Lockhart invites us to “make patterns of shape and motion, and then [try] to understand our patterns and measure them.” What results as we step away from physical reality and immerse ourselves in the imaginary — and imaginative — world of mathematical reality is a thing of infinite beauty and infinite fascination.
How a tiny cluster of genes and proteins gave rise to zombie and vampire mythology.
Some of today’s most exciting graphic artists adapt a remarkable spectrum of literature since 1800, spanning everything from “the bad boys of Romanticism” — Keats, Byron, and Shelley — to cornerstones of science and philosophy like Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra.
Why it’s easier to prevent a crying spell than to stop one already underway, and more.