Brainiac

Covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more.

Brainiac

Pollution of the past may have been even worse than we knew

The study is from different time periods when the amount of industrial air pollution was at its worst.

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: Liquid democracy

If elected, this candidate will turn over his seat to an app.

Brainiac

Uncommon Knowledge: Leaving money on the table

In this week’s edition: unmarried workers, digitized documents, and the breakthrough CEO.

Brainiac

On Second Thought: Falsified results for a promising trial

Acerta made an unusual admission earlier this month.

Ideas

A Boston story in 50 words

This is the best way to wait for a train.

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Innovation of the Week: Toilet paper-infused asphalt

It’s already been used to resurface a bike path, reinforce a dyke, and repave a parking lot.

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Big Data: Sleeping jellyfish edition

The dozing Cassiopea raises lots of new avenues for future study.

Ideas

A Boston story in 50 words

Be careful driving on Memorial Drive.

Uncommon Knowledge: Preaching at the choir

This week: CEOs, controversial statements, and census data.

Brainiac

Euphemism: Independent pub group

Nothing’s less independent than a chain, so the word “independent” is a lie.

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Innovation of the Week: A knockoff Lego ISIS set

Stores have stopped selling the figurines amid concerns about glorifying ISIS.

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Big Data: 728 earthquakes

Most have been small shakes. But there have been whoppers, too.

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Uncommon Knowledge: A thinner blue line

This week: Foxholes, morals, and partisanship.

Ideas

A Boston story in 50 words

In a flash, a stolen wallet.

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On Second Thought: Ask a journalist

This looked like a big breakthrough for cotton, but there were errors in the paper.

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Innovation of the Week: Like fingerprints, but in your chest

There’s a never-ending quest to stay ahead of hackers.

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Big Data: 20 minutes

The best way to test for Zika is neither cheap nor portable.

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Euphemism: House jungle

No generation has a monopoly on voids.

Ideas

A Boston story in 50 words

Environmental impacts in Somerville.

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Uncommon Knowledge: The influence of theater

Love, race, and Moneyball in this week’s Uncommon Knowledge.

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A city of octopuses

This caught marine biologists by surprise.

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Innovation of the Week: Meal solutions

Now, 7-Eleven is offering a foodie alternative.

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On Second Thought: Authorship for sale

Want to add a bit of science to your resume?

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Uncommon Knowledge: From investments to gender blindness

Unusual insights from the social sciences.

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Big Data: 2,802 cats

Owners rated their cats on numerous personality traits.

Ideas

A Boston story in 50 words

Surprises for this matchmaker.

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Uncommon Knowledge: From rent to rivalry

Longstanding debates and new discoveries from the social sciences.

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Big Data: 143 tons

It’s enormous, and attracting considerable attention in the British press.

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Euphemism: ex·pe·ri·enc·er (n.)

Alien abductees have found a new defining term.

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Innovation of the Week: A robot hivemind

These robots could latch onto each other and merge their nervous systems.

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On Second Thought: Political retractions

Retracting a paper on these grounds is unusual, to say the least.

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Big Data: 157 miles per hour

Scientists have resisted efforts to expand the Saffir-Simpson scale.

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Uncommon Knowledge: Voter turnout, attendance laws, and fortifications

Unusual insights from the social sciences.

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Innovation of the Week: Twinkie vodka

This version may be easier to swallow than most.

Ideas

A Boston story in 50 words

Reunited neighbors.

Brainiac

Same News, Three Ways: Money talks, critics walk

Strange how events can change people’s convictions.

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Innovation of the Week: Musical brain mapping

“It made you want to cry.”

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Euphemism: Special Person’s Day

The name is probably a bit too broad.

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Uncommon Knowledge: From Jackson Pollock to the Supreme Court

Surprising insights from the social sciences.

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A Boston story in 50 words

Competitive shopping takes a reverent turn.

Brainiac

Big Data: 725,000 mosquito-related deaths

Mosquitoes have developed resistance to many types of insecticides.

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Innovation of the Week: Trump-shaped ecstasy

Novelty apparently sells.

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On Second Thought: A faux Jesus disappears from the record

The “right to be forgotten” was affirmed in 2014 by a European judicial ruling.

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Uncommon Knowledge: Creationism and bull markets

Unusual insights from the social sciences.

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Innovation of the Week: ‘The mucus house’

This could be a way to deal with all the plastic in the ocean.

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A Boston story in 50 words

Tensions running hot in 1972.

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Big Data: 28.5 gigaparsecs

Are we alone out here?

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Euphemism: ‘Weather extremes’

This is a classic example of what Stephen Pinker calls the “euphemism treadmill.”

Uncommon Knowledge

Distractions, Robin Hood, and Goodwill

Unusual insights from the social sciences in this week’s Uncommon Knowledge.

Brainiac

Big Data: 64 million tons

There are big costs to feeding America’s pets.