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 >>

What Would Happen If the Whole Internet Just Shut Down All of a Sudden?

A world in which the internet suddenly stops: surely the TV show’s already in development. Sprawling cast, gorgeous visuals, tediously on-the-nose themes. Some handsome B-lister tearing around the country in pursuit of his wayward kids, or the shadowy sect that pulled the plug in the first place. A patch of prairie in Kansas with a weak but functional signal, people lining for miles to check texts, riots breaking out. Thankfully, we don’t have to wait for this show to be shot and streamed to get a decent idea of what the internet apocalypse might look like: for this week’s Giz Asks, we asked a number of experts to do the imagining for us. Read More >>

Can You Laugh to Death?

True laughter—not the strained, polite variant you find in offices, or the monotonous guffawing you hear on comedy podcasts, but real, involuntary, gasping laughter—is an escape from death, or at least the dread of it: you can think about death while laughing hysterically, can even, if you’re a sociopath, watch someone die while laughing hysterically, but it’s safe to say that, in that moment, your own death will not seem so frightening. And so of course the question is: can the act of laughing itself kill you, specifically with an aneurysm or a heart attack? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of doctors to find out. Read More >>

Do Animals Work Out?

Of the many downsides to being a human being – as opposed to, say, a squirrel, or some kind of fantastically plumed bird – exercise is one of the more egregious. Awareness of mortality is bad enough – do we really have to jog, on top of that? Still, animals are like us in so many ways that it’s worth wondering whether they subject themselves to this bizarre ritual as well. For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of animal behaviour experts to find out. Read More >>

What’s the Worst Thing That Could Happen if You Hold in Your Pee Too Long?

Unless there are some truly radical advances in catheter technology, having to pee and not being able to will remain a universal predicament, albeit one more acute for some (Amazon warehouse workers, for instance) than for others. Certainly it can feel, in the moment, like you’re doing real, irreversible damage to yourself, but that feeling often fades the moment you make it to a bathroom. But do the effects of not peeing linger beyond temporary discomfort? What are you really doing to yourself, when – via not wanting to shoulder your way out of a crowded movie cinema aisle, or displease your sadistic boss, or because of some kind of medical condition – you put off what badly needs doing? Read More >>

What Technology Is Most Likely to Become Obsolete During Your Lifetime?

Certain Boomer basements are little shrines to obsolescence, untidy stockrooms of the one-time cutting-edge: VCRs, corded telephones, immense beige PC monitors, etc. Way fewer Millennials will have basements to store trash in (‘home ownership’ itself quickly verging on obsolete), but presumably, once climate change really hits and they’re all renting cots in corporatised storm shelters, they’ll have little lockers to put stuff in. And it’s worth wondering: what worthless old technology will they be inexplicably hoarding? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of historians of technology for their takes on what tech will become obsolete in the next fifty years. Read More >>

Is the Butterfly Effect Real?

Is the 2004 Ashton Kutcher vehicle The Butterfly Effect a good movie? Definitely not, no—but try telling that to me at age thirteen. And then wrap your head, once more, around the fact that if you had told me that, you might have set in motion the utter annihilation of the human race—the whole notion of the butterfly effect being that small-scale events (telling a credulous thirteen-year-old he has bad taste in movies) can generate massive, unforeseen consequences (World War III, nuclear apocalypse, etc.). Read More >>

Who Has the Most Censored Internet?

Certain platforms might take down your homemade pornography, or censor your conspiracist podcast, but here the internet is a fairly open place. As long as what you’re peddling isn’t actively illegal—or as long as you’re not peddling illegal wares too flagrantly—you’re free to set up shop elsewhere. Read More >>