Nautilus

Nautilus is a different kind of science magazine. We deliver big-picture science by reporting on a single monthly topic from multiple perspectives. Read a new chapter in the story every Thursday.

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Can You Treat Loneliness By Creating an Imaginary Friend? - Facts So Romantic

Tulpamancers imagine talking to the tulpa, sometimes for more than an hour a day, and eventually, perhaps after several months, the tulpa will start talking back.Photo Illustration by LeaDigszammal / ShutterstockDid you ever have an imaginary friend? If you didn’t, chances are you know someone who did. Imaginary companions, as scholars call them, are...

Why Horror Films Are More Popular Than Ever - Issue 95: Escape

2020 was a bad year for just about everything—except horror. Horror films were wildly popular on streaming platforms over the past year, and 2020 saw the horror genre take home its largest share of the box office in modern history.1 In a year where the world was stricken by real horrors, why were many people escaping to worlds full of fictional horrors?...

Dreaming Is Like Taking LSD - Issue 95: Escape

Without a doubt, the biggest questions about dreaming are all variants on this question: Why do we dream? We began studying dreaming in the early 1990s and, between the two of us, have published over 200 scientific papers on sleep and dreams. Pulling together a variety of compelling neuroscientific ideas and state-of-the-art findings in the fields of...

Why a Universal Society Is Unattainable - Issue 95: Escape

On Jan. 1, 2021, five long years after the vote for what’s become known as Brexit, and numerous marches before and after that national decision, some of which attracted more than 100,000 impassioned participants, Great Britain formally severed its nearly half century-long ties with the European Union. The decision, as columnist Owen Jones described...

A Breakthrough in Measuring the Building Blocks of Nature - Facts So Romantic

An artistic rendering of the quarks and gluons that make up a proton.Illustration by D. Dominguez / CERNIn a recent experiment done at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, in Germany, physicist Alexey Grinin and his colleagues came a step closer to resolving one of the more significant puzzles to have arisen in particle physics over the past...

Humans Have Rights and So Should Nature - Issue 94: Evolving

Humans once lived in harmony with the natural world. Consider timekeeping. Until relatively recently, the human notion of time was based on the natural rhythms of nature. Time was measured by a new moon, the first snow, a migrating bird, or the ebb and flow of a river. Time meant situating ourselves as part of a larger web of life.Western society has...

Humans Have Gotten Nicer and Better at Making War - Issue 94: Evolving

In 1991 two hikers in the Italian Alps stumbled on a mummified body buried in the ice. The Iceman, it turned out, died more than 5,000 years ago. At first, archeologists assumed he’d fallen in a snowstorm and frozen to death. Then they discovered various cuts and bruises on his body and an arrowhead embedded in his shoulder. They also found traces of...

We Didn’t Evolve for This - Issue 94: Evolving

When a Weddell seal, native to Antarctica, plummets 400 meters beneath the ice on one of its hour-long dives, an ensemble of adaptations come together to keep it alive. The seal’s heart rate slows. At this pace, it will burn through its deep reserve of oxygen—provided by extra-large volumes of blood and hemoglobin—more slowly. The seal’s muscles free...

We’re the Cosmic 1 Percent But Our Solar System Isn’t a Complete Weirdo - Facts So Romantic

About half of all stars seem to have “super-Earth” planets on orbits closer to their stars than Mercury is to the Sun, but we don’t.Illustration by Vadim Sadovski / ShutterstockIs Earth unique? Once a grand philosophical question, it has, over the past two decades, become, with the discovery of thousands of planets around other stars—our cosmic cousins—a...

How to Talk Like a Physicist - Facts So Romantic

Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder, who probably is the smartest person on her block, has fun in her latest video skewering the scientific braggart.Photograph by Francisco De Legarreta C. / UnsplashThe other night I was out on our street with the neighbors for a socially distanced hang. My two-year-old daughter, mistaking the only street light...

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