Why Does Time Slow Down and Speed Up?

Time contracts, expands, swallows and spits you out into this instant, which feels – depending on your perspective – either impossibly remote from where you were two years ago or barely removed from it at all. Flight delays, breakups, bouts of serious illness – all can bring you back to the high school classroom where it’s somehow slo-mo clock. You feel every tick. Meanwhile, an uneventful year can spool out in what feels like six days. Or maybe the reverse is true for you. The perception of time is intensely personal, not to mention effectively unmeasurable. But few if any internal clocks are synced to UTC – no one experiences time at an even, unvarying rate. For this week’s Giz Asks, we’ve reached out to a number of experts to find out why. Read More >>

What Are We Most Likely Going to Be Dying From in the Future?

It is easy to be smug about the blindspots of the past. Lead paint, cigarettes, cocaine in Coca Cola – could they really not have known? Such are the things we think, as we heedlessly Juul, pump ourselves with radiation, and fill prescriptions for pills whose long-term side effects have yet to be determined. All of these things might turn out to be fine; and we are, in any case, more attuned than ever to the ways we might be killing ourselves, whether or not we choose to do anything about it. But the killers of the future – the causes and the sicknesses themselves – may not arrive in a form we’re expecting. For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of experts for a clearer sense of what we’ll be dying from in the future. Read More >>

What Causes Foggy Brain?

If you’re like me, you can barely read this paragraph right now. I’m amazed I’m even capable of writing it. Most of us suffering from brain fog can recall a time, perhaps illusory, when setting and achieving goals was simple, more or less – when the main impediments to accomplishment, or simply making breakfast, were external to ourselves. We wonder: how did it happen? Is it ageing, or luck, or diet, or what? Can it be reversed? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of experts to find out. Read More >>

Do Smart Drugs Work?

If you’re looking to make your brain work better, you have plenty of options. You can start sleeping better, invest in a juicer, spend time at a decent gym. Or – if you’re pressed for time – you can pop a bunch of pills. Read More >>

What Are the Biggest Challenges Technology Must Overcome in the Next 10 Years?

Technology’s fine – I definitely like texting, and some of the shows on Netflix are tolerable – but the field’s got some serious kinks to work out. Some of these are hardware-related: when, for instance, will quantum computing become practical? Others are of more immediate concern. Is there some way to stop latently homicidal weirdos from getting radicalised online? Can social networks be tweaked in such a way as to not nearly guarantee the outbreak of the second Civil War? As AI advances and proliferates, how can we stop it from perpetuating, or worsening, injustice and discrimination? Read More >>

Why Do Placebos ‘Work’?

We all know the placebo effect is a powerful thing – it can ease pain, alleviate depression, turn CBD into a billion-dollar industry, and more. Less widely understood is why it works – how the human brain, in tandem with various other organs, can turn a simple sugar pill into something that, in some cases and for certain ailments, works just as well as the real, patented, super-expensive, active-ingredient-containing thing. For this Giz Asks, we asked the leading experts on the placebo effect to illuminate this process for us. Read More >>

What Will the Internet Look Like in 2030?

Something has happened to our sense of the future. In old movies or TV shows, the future was often depicted as a wholly alien world, a barely recognisable landscape of flying cars, and out of control clones. On a show like Black Mirror, by contrast, the future often looks a lot like the present, but with higher-quality VR. This imaginative contraction – might it have something to do with the progression of the internet? Here was had the most significant technological leap in generations, the potential for which seemed boundless – and it’s looked the same, basically, for over a decade. Twitter and Facebook might look different than they did in 2009, but not that different. It seems we’ve reached a sort of stasis, and it’s not clear what might change it. Will the internet look radically different in ten years, or just somewhat sleeker? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of experts for a sense of how the internet might look a decade from now. Read More >>

Can You Give Yourself a Panic Attack?

Aids to relaxation are ubiquitous, abundant: breathing techniques, benzodiazepines, ASMR, mood music, herbals teas, exercise, heavy drinking. Their opposite – aids to anxiety and panic – are everywhere, too, though typically experienced in- or quasi-voluntarily: personal catastrophe, climate change, world news. Might there be some power in appropriating this process – in self-inducing panic before fate, politics, etc. can do it for us? Not exactly. But from a biological, look-what-the-brain-can-do perspective, this capacity does seem worth investigating. Can someone – starting, let’s say, from a position of relative peace/contentment – actually think their way into a full-on panic attack? To find out, for this week’s Giz Asks we reached out to a number of experts in psychology and anxiety disorders. Read More >>

What’s Going to Happen With Bitcoin?

Since its inception in 2009, Bitcoin has made and ruined fortunes, helped sell fentanyl and books about cryptocurrency, withstood literally millions of jokes and just as many predictions of imminent collapse, and – through a process opaque to most people, myself included – arrived at a point where, as of this writing, roughly ten of them could buy you a decent-sized house, assuming your estate agent takes cryptocurrency. What’s next? Will it all come crashing down, or will this one-time punchline survive through the next decade? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of experts for some sense of Bitcoin’s future. Read More >>

What Would It Take to Shut Down the Entire Internet?

Not too long ago, we here at Giz Asks contemplated what might happen if the entire internet shut down at once. One imaginative stumbling block, in playing out the implications of that scenario, was how something like that could happen in the first place. And so – without advocating any of the methods described below, or strongly suggesting that hundreds or thousands of like-minded heroes band together to take this sucker down once and for all – for this week’s Giz Asks we’ve asked a number of cybersecurity experts how exactly one would go about shutting down the entire internet. Read More >>

Can You Overdose on Weed?

At this very moment, behind a storage shed or at a friend's party, a too-high teen is convinced they’re going to die. Eventually that teen will calm down, and probably thank their friend for refusing to call an ambulance when they’d begged them to. Getting insanely high for the first time – or getting higher than you’ve ever personally been, via oils or edibles or whatever – can be a frightening experience. You reassure yourself by thinking: no one has ever overdosed from smoking weed. But – wait. Do you know that? Have there not been exceptions? And is it possible that you’re one of them? Frantically you pull out your phone and Google: ‘Can you overdose from weed?’ – and are brought right here, to this week’s Giz Asks, in which a number of experts in psychiatry, substance abuse, policy, and toxicology give their take on that very question. (The upshot, if you’re too high to read: you’ll almost certainly be fine, eventually.) Read More >>

climate change
When Will We Run Out of Water?

Even people who believe in climate change are climate change deniers: you might know, intellectually, that our world is coming to an end, but it is hard to truly register this fact, the same way one both does and does not believe that they will one day die. There are counterexamples – you might be one of them; Ethan Hawke in First Reformed is another – but most of us are still sort of asleep, no matter how many grim longform articles we might read. One development that will likely make things real: the end of the Earth’s drinkable water supply. The question is not if, but when – and it is this question we’re posting for this week’s Giz Asks. Read More >>

What’s the Best Medicine?

Thousands of medicines have made it to market in the last century or so. Some of these medicines have single-handedly eradicated illnesses that have plagued humanity from the dawn of time; some have made chronic conditions at least somewhat more tolerable; others have plunged people into sleepless hallucinatory hell-worlds from which no amount of therapy (or lawsuit money) could ever save them. For this week’s Giz Asks, we’re interested in that first category—the paradigm-shifting, life-restoring, legitimately sort of miraculous medicines which have periodically brightened the planet. Below, a number of historians of medicine weigh in with their picks for the all-time best medicine. Read More >>

What’s My Best Chance of Living Forever?

What do emo bands from the mid-aughts and gorgeously-wrought realist novels about dissolving marriages have in common? Simply this assertion: Life Sucks. And it does suck, undoubtedly, even for the happiest and/or richest among us, not one of whom is immune from heartbreak, haemorrhoids, or getting mercilessly ridiculed online. Read More >>

Which Animal Will Develop Human-Level Intelligence in the Future?

Animals that think and talk like humans have long enchanted the public—in the form of myths, children’s books, and overrated TV shows. Somehow even the most mundane aspects of daily life—paying taxes, or preparing sandwiches, or staring at yourself in the mirror with a drained, sallow look and thinking, who am I, how did I get here, etc.—are infinitely more amusing when it’s a squirrel who’s doing them. But will there ever be a day when this endlessly renewable source of joy/delight will be available outside of entertainment? When you can simply stroll into your closest park to watch two animals grumbling about the weather? And—if so—which animal will be the first to develop this human-like intelligence? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of animal experts to find out. Read More >>