Brainiac

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

Brainiac

Innovation of the week: RoboCop in Dubai

This RoboCop patrolled an upscale mall in its first outing.

Brainiac

Euphemism: ‘Spinoff’ becomes ‘successor show’

When a TV or movie franchise succeeds, it may never end.

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Big Data: 10 climbs to the top

This one is a record.

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Zombie ideas are dangerous

This bogus claim has been thoroughly discredited but keeps rearing its head.

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Same news, three ways: Yes, I said it

Online revelations can come back to haunt you.

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Innovation of the Week: RompHim

Untucked polo shirts and Axe body spray are getting old.

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Big Data: 1 millimeter of mercury

Could this reduce the instances of heart attacks?

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Innovation of the week: A monument to veterans — and Satan

The Satanic Temple sensed an opening.

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Big Data: 492 natural sites

Bad news for wildlife in protected areas.

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Euphemism: in·de·pend·ent sup·pli·er (n.)

The so-called gig economy is rife with noncommittal mumbo-jumbo.

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On second thought: Fish stories

Something’s fishy with these Swedish researchers.

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Innovation of the week: Muddy jeans

Apparently these are worth $425.

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Big Data: Synthetic voices in one minute

That’s how long it takes Lyrebird to copy a human voice.

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Same news, three ways: Sticklers for rules

Trying to uphold very specific regulations.

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Euphemism: new breed·ing tech·nique (n. pl.)

To some ears, it sounds like the modern-day equivalent of Dr. Frankenstein’s creepy creations.

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Innovation of the week: SwineTech

This could save farmers a lot of bacon.

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Innovation of the week: A maze to dodge liquor laws

Aiswarya Bar in Kerala has a unique approach.

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Testing the limits of an unsolicited invitation

John McCool decided to troll right back.

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Big Data: 24,970

Finding a way to predict heart attacks.

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Ethical dilemma: Facebook Live

Two perspectives on the ethics of Facebook Live.

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Innovation of the week: Digital tombstones

Some are gravely concerned.

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Same news, three ways: Metaphors are hard

It’s good to know when to let go.

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Euphemism: “re-accommodate”

That’s one way to clear up an incident.

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Big Data: 65 million years

Ants are eminently persistent.

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Same news, three ways: Belated recognition

What do the Turing prize, Twitter, and Framingham have in common?

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Innovation of the week: IPO edition

A “growing power grab” by technology companies.

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Integrity in peer review

It’s a way to give back to the scientific community.

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Big Data: 1 nanometer

The possibilities of straining the salt out of seawater.

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Finding a welcome sanctuary

A digest of big ideas in little bites, from the Ideas team.

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Interview: Laila Ali

An Ideas interview with the champion boxer and author.

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Toilet paper at the Temple of Heaven

A digest of big ideas in little bites.

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When ‘reclaiming’ actually means ‘ruining’

A digest of big ideas in little bites.

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Sneakers that order pizza: Has science gone too far?

A digest of big ideas in little bites.

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Had a bad week? You weren’t the only one

A digest of big ideas in little bites.

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A collection of successful complaints, and more

Walt Whitman, Big Data, and of course, La La Land, in this week’s Brainiac.

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Hackers in your brain, ‘Trump and Dump,’ and more

Big ideas in little bits, curated by the Ideas team.

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How to be invisible

Only magicians could make things vanish — until these researchers applied the basic principles of light.

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These scientists are trying to erase memories of fear

Scientists wanted to see if they could erase fear memories in adult mice.

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What sizes and shapes say about seashells

Humans may have reversed the way the ocean and the atmosphere naturally interact.

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The secret life of ants

How ants use crowdsourced decision-making to run their colony.

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In bots we distrust

Can simple adjustments overcome an aversion to algorithms?

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Roses are red; violets are — red? How color terms arise

Does our language shape our worldview, or does our worldview shape our language?

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CSI: Chem trail

Scientists tried to identify every chemical to create a lifestyle profile that tells us what the cellphone owner likes to eat, wear, and do.

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What do you call a school of bones?

Scientists separate batches of bone fragments by layers of the archaeological site, then grind them together into a powder and extract the DNA.

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How climate sparks conflict

The connection between climate change and armed violence is clear.

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Teaching parents to talk math with their kids

A new effort is underway to get parents and caregivers to talk to their young kids about math.

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Songs of passion, scandal from medieval Europe

The first ever English-language translation of the bawdy medieval poet Neidhart.

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Recording the secret lives of cells

MIT bioengineers create a recording device that can be implanted in cells to track their exposure to environmental stimuli.

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The ginseng web

A new book explains how trade in the miracle root ginseng shaped the 18th century.

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Teaching computers to understand non-native English

MIT researchers create the first major database of non-native English.