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The Fermi Paradox

PDF: We made a fancy PDF of this post for printing and offline viewing. Buy it here. (Or see a preview.) Some people stick with the traditional, feeling struck by the epic beauty or blown away by the insane scale of the universe.

All Dressed Up For Mars and Nowhere to Go – Matter

When Josh was 10 years old, he sat cross-legged on the floor in his parent’s neat, suburban home in Australia, enraptured. It was May 1996 and Andy Thomas had just stepped out of the space shuttle Endeavour and onto the tarmac of Runway 33 of the Kennedy Space Center.

The Mammoth Cometh

The first time Ben Novak saw a passenger pigeon, he fell to his knees and remained in that position, speechless, for 20 minutes. He was 16. At 13, Novak vowed to devote his life to resurrecting extinct animals.

Life’s restlessness

Biology is wondrously strange – so familiar, yet so strikingly different to physics and chemistry. We know where we are with inanimate matter. Ever since Isaac Newton, it has answered to a basically mechanical view of nature, blindly following its laws without regard for purposes.

The Ebola Wars

The most dangerous outbreak of an emerging infectious disease since the appearance of H.I.V.

When Beliefs and Facts Collide

Do Americans understand the scientific consensus about issues like climate change and evolution? At least for a substantial portion of the public, it seems like the answer is no.

Why our brains love the ocean: Science explains what draws humans to the sea

Since time immemorial, humans have been captivated by water. And the reasons go beyond evolution I’m standing on a pier at the Outer Banks of North Carolina, fifty feet above the Atlantic. To the left and right, forward, back, and below, all I can see is ocean.

A New Physics Theory of Life

Why does life exist? Popular hypotheses credit a primordial soup, a bolt of lightning and a colossal stroke of luck. But if a provocative new theory is correct, luck may have little to do with it.

Stephen Hawking: 'Transcendence looks at the implications of artificial intelligence - but are we taking AI seriously enough?'

With the Hollywood blockbuster Transcendence playing in cinemas, with Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman showcasing clashing visions for the future of humanity, it's tempting to dismiss the notion of highly intelligent machines as mere science fiction.

A Billionaire Mathematician’s Life of Ferocious Curiosity

James H. Simons likes to play against type. He is a billionaire star of mathematics and private investment who often wins praise for his financial gifts to scientific research and programs to get children hooked on math.

Gravity Waves from Big Bang Detected

Physicists have found a long-predicted twist in light from the big bang that represents the first image of ripples in the universe called gravitational waves, researchers announced today.

Radical New Theory Could Kill the Multiverse Hypothesis

Though galaxies look larger than atoms and elephants appear to outweigh ants, some physicists have begun to suspect that size differences are illusory.

Is Quantum Entanglement Real?

FIFTY years ago this month, the Irish physicist John Stewart Bell submitted a short, quirky article to a fly-by-night journal titled Physics, Physique, Fizika.

How the Biggest Scientific Discovery of the Year Was Kept a Secret

Great surprises in science don’t just happen–they’re engineered.

Time’s Arrow Traced to Quantum Source

Coffee cools, buildings crumble, eggs break and stars fizzle out in a universe that seems destined to degrade into a state of uniform drabness known as thermal equilibrium.

Have We Been Interpreting Quantum Mechanics Wrong This Whole Time?

For nearly a century, “reality” has been a murky concept. The laws of quantum physics seem to suggest that particles spend much of their time in a ghostly state, lacking even basic properties such as a definite location and instead existing everywhere and nowhere at once.

If the World Began Again, Would Life as We Know It Exist?

In less than five milliseconds, a Hydromantes salamander can launch its tongue—including the muscles, cartilage, and part of its skeleton—out of its mouth to snag a hapless insect mid-flight. Among amphibians, it is the quick draw champ.

Could This Man Hold the Secret to Human Regeneration?

MODERN MEDICINE CLUTCHES at a number of dreams. Some, like developing an AIDS vaccine, can seem tantalizingly close. Others, like curing cancer, have frustrated so many minds for so many years that we’ve learned to temper our expectations. Then there’s regeneration.

God, Darwin and My College Biology Class

EVERY year around this time, with the college year starting, I give my students The Talk. It isn’t, as you might expect, about sex, but about evolution and religion, and how they get along. More to the point, how they don’t.

The Aftershocks

Giulio Selvaggi was asleep when the shaking started. It was the night of April 5, 2009, and the head of Italy’s National Earthquake Center had worked late into the night in Rome before going home to crash. From the motion of his bed, Selvaggi could tell the quake was big — but not close.

The Biology of Risk

SIX years after the financial meltdown there is once again talk about market bubbles. Are stocks succumbing to exuberance? Is real estate? We thought we had exorcised these demons.

Cognitive celebrity

Before he died, Albert Einstein requested that his whole body be cremated as soon as possible after death, and his ashes scattered in an undisclosed location. He didn’t want his mortal remains to be turned into a shrine, but his request was only partially heeded.

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