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Mindfulness: New age craze or science-backed solution?

Mindfulness has become a billion-dollar industry.Research shows mindfulness can be an effective wellness practice, yet the effect sizes found in studies tend to be moderate.Mindfulness may be worthwhile, but only if we approach it with understanding and realistic expectations.Unless you've recently returned from a hermitage atop the sacred mountain,...

A new window to the early universe (and aliens?)

Astrophysicists anxiously await the upcoming launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, slated for December 18. Things can go wrong.This spectacular giant will be the most powerful space telescope ever built, opening new windows to nascent galaxies and stars from billions of years ago, as well as to planets circling other stars in our cosmic neighborhood.It...

The cruelest people in Russian history

If there is one thing that Russia scholars can agree on, it is the poor quality of leadership that has plagued the country since its inception.Though some could have become the posthumous victims of inflated rumors or political propaganda, others may have been even crueler than we thought.People like Anna Ivanovna (Russia's ice queen) and Lavrentiy...

Big Tech and privacy: Apple flirts with the "dark side"

Compared to other Big Tech companies, Apple has been the poster child of privacy protection.Unfortunately, a recent announcement has breached that trust.How much power do we want Big Tech to have? And what sort of society do we want?Apple has built a reputation as the "least evil" Big Tech giant when it comes to privacy. All these companies — Google,...

What happens when two different respiratory viruses infect the same cell?

Right now, there's just one virus on everyone's minds: SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. But humanity is plagued by many respiratory viruses, such as influenza A (IAV) and respiratory syncytial viruses (RSV), which cause hundreds of thousands of deaths every year. Most of these viruses – apart from influenza and SARS-CoV-2 – have no vaccines...

How to understand Einstein's equation for general relativity

The Einstein field equations appear very simple, but they encode a tremendous amount of complexity. What looks like one compact equation is actually 16 complicated ones, relating the curvature of spacetime to the matter and energy in the universe. It showcases how gravity is fundamentally different from all the other forces, and yet in many ways,...

What really happens when your foot goes to sleep?

Imagine you've just sat down to watch your favorite TV show. You decide to snuggle in with your legs crisscrossed because you find it more comfortable that way. When the episode ends, you try to stand up and suddenly your right foot isn't working. At first you just can't move it, then it feels like it has pins and needles all over it. For a minute...

Saving history: 3D laser scans preserve world heritage sites

To prevent the present from erasing the past, non-profit organizations are creating detailed 3D scans of famous monuments.Stored online and shared with researchers around the world, these digital copies will endure long after their real counterparts are gone. Occasionally, this work is incredibly dangerous.On the night of May 14, 1940, the German Luftwaffe...

Who was the most original philosopher?

Plato wrote profusely, and his ideas are intelligent, well argued, and powerful. His works form the backbone of so many subjects: epistemology, aesthetics, metaphysics, politics, and psychology.Plato also influenced Christianity, which in turn became a new kind of religion altogether.Nothing in life can be treated in isolation. Behind every idea, person,...

Exoplanets with moons may be likelier to host life

A new study suggests that exomoons are common in multistar systems. Thus far, only a few exomoon candidates have been identified. Exoplanets with moons may be likelier to host life than those without moons.Though Earth has only one (very special and precious) moon, the average planet in our solar system has 26 moons. (The range is from zero moons for...

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