science
How Much Longer Will Exercise Make Me Live?

There might be some contrarian physiologist I’m neglecting here, but it does not feel controversial to say that, among people who study exercise, there is 100% consensus re: working out being good for you. Yet for those of us who have adjusted to feeling physically awful all the time, “good for you” might not cut it, incentive-wise. More appealing, perhaps, is the prospect of a longer life. Read More >>

space
If Mars Had Water, Where Did It Go?

It’ll be a fine day for Evian, when Mars is finally colonised: bottled’s the only option, when you’re living on a planet whose last substantial traces of flowing liquid water disappeared a few billion years ago. That ancient water has occasioned much study and debate, and provided the name for at least one French-Candian psych rock band. The fact that it existed, at one point, is a large part of why dreams of annexing Mars have flourished. But where did it go, exactly? By what majestic geological processes do massive bodies of space-liquid just disappear? For this week’s Giz Asks, we talked to a number of Mars experts to find out. Read More >>

health
What’s the Oldest Disease?

Some things never change. Dying terribly from bone cancer, for instance: that’s something humans have been doing from about the beginning of our time. Has it always been like this, or was there some blissful period, in our species’ salad days, in which no one perished from bone cancer? Which sickness has burdened us—or our ancestors, or any lifeform—the longest? To find out, for this Giz Asks we reached out to a number of anthropologists, who provided their takes on the oldest disease. Read More >>

giz asks
What’s the Least Useful Body Part?

We’re all familiar with the flashy, big-ticket organs: the heart, the brain, the lungs. Their celebrity often obscures the work—humbler, less heroic, but often no less essential to the maintenance of a life—performed by those organs only doctors know about: the body’s back-up players, pulsing and pumping in relative obscurity. Not to mention the mid-tier organs, like the gallbladder, whose functions most of us only dimly comprehend, unless—or until—they start acting up. Read More >>

science
Why Do People Believe in Pseudoscience?

It’s difficult to change someone’s mind if they have anything like a strong opinion on the risks of vaccination, or the usefulness of orbs and essential oils in the treatment of late-stage liver cancer. But if you’re ever going to stand a chance of doing so, you’re going to need to wipe the rage-spittle off your face and set about the hard, not especially rewarding work of trying to understand these people. And so for this Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of psychologists and historians who’ve studied the issue to figure out why people believe in pseudoscience. Read More >>

giz asks
What’s the Worst Trash Humans Produce?

The world is trash. Even leaving aside the garbage of regular citizens—the many stadiums’ worth of human waste, plastic cups and pill bottles, scrapped cars and dead dogs dispensed of every day, every hour of every day—there is the world-withering, endlessly-accumulating waste of the industrial variety, which could toxify every inch of the globe, or at least those few inches that haven’t been toxified already. There is such an astonishing quantity and variety of waste coursing in, around and above the planet that it can be easy to think of all of it as one dense, destructive substance—but there are degrees. Some kinds of trash are worse than other kinds, and it is worth knowing which is which, as we hover in the mudroom of apocalypse. Read More >>

animals
Do Dogs Get Headaches?

From the outside a dog’s life can seem close to ideal, at least at those moments when your desire to do nothing runs up against the imperatives of being alive (going to work, doing dishes, buying food for the dog, etc.). Plus, dogs generally don’t require fistfuls of paracetamol just to make it through the day. But would they, if they understood the concept of medicine, and could somehow unscrew those childproof caps with their paws? Put otherwise: do dogs get headaches? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of experts in canine medicine and behaviour to find out. Read More >>

space
What’s at the Edge of the Universe?

It is a routine emotion in 2019 to urgently wish, four or five times in a day, to be launched not simply into space but to the very edge of the universe, as far as it is possible to get from the fever dream of bad weather, busted trains and potentially cancerous thigh lesions that constitute life on Earth. But what would be waiting for you, up at the cosmological border? Is it even a border, or is what we’re dealing with here more like a kind of inconceivably vast ceiling? Is there even a border/ceiling up there at all? For this Giz Asks, we talked with a number of cosmology-oriented physicists to find out. Read More >>

giz asks
How Fast Can You Travel Before It Kills You?

The human body can withstand a lot before giving up and dying: falls from second-story windows, years of fevered substance abuse, wolf attacks, etc. We have a pretty good idea of what it can’t tolerate, but some ways of dying instantly have received less attention than others, and speed is one of these. We’ve all seen pictures of people moving at top-speed – but is there a velocity beyond which those blown-back cheeks actually fly off your face? Read More >>

science
Is Permatripping Real?

For decades, every town had its spin on the story: the distant cousin or friend of a friend who took a bunch of acid and never came down from their trip. Rumour had it that many of these people were consigned to state asylums, unshakably convinced that they’d morphed into tall, precariously balanced glasses of orange juice—at least, that was the one that I heard. The dreaded “permatrip”: an urban legend sourced equally in Just Say No paranoia and teenage idiocy/credulousness. Read More >>

memory
Why Do We Forget?

To live is to forget – account numbers, names, the precise locations of keys and wallets, friends from childhood, peripheral characters from prestige TV shows, inside jokes, past ambitions, U.S. history, much else. Goldfish with guns: that’s the human race. But every frailty, we know, serves some larger adaptive purpose. So it is worth asking, as we wrack our brains for whatever it was we know we were supposed to do today: why must things be like this? Why do we forget? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of neuroscientists and psychologists to find out. Read More >>

science
What’s the Loudest Sound in the Universe?

The human tolerance for sound is, on a galactic level, puny. Volcano eruptions, jackhammer-intensive construction work, My Bloody Valentine concerts – these tinnitus-inducing phenomena are barely whispers besides the majestic, roiling bursts and collisions going on in outer space. Read More >>

science
What Was the First Recreational Drug?

Sex, war, and getting insanely high: Society might have changed in the last 60,000 years or so, but these interests have remained constant. In a way, this is a kind of golden age for the aspiring recreational drug user: putting aside the public health consequences of a market flooded with mass-produced speed, painkillers and anti-anxiety meds, and putting aside as well the cost (in terms of cartel violence, punitive War on Drugs sentencing measures, etc.) of our country’s readily accessible store of coke, heroin, MDMA, weed, and experimental Chinese research chemicals, the fact remains that there are more options out there than ever for those who’re looking to get (responsibly!) fucked up. Read More >>

science
What’s the Worst Pain?

Some people say that life is pain. Those people are optimistic: life isn’t pain, it’s pains, plural – tooth pain, back pain, breakup-pain, the pain of watching your parents grow old and die, the pain of downwardly adjusting your expectations for life, stomach pain and sinus pain, pain you can’t quite trace to any one single source – a thousand different strains of this stuff, some not-insignificant percentage of which you’ll almost certainly experience before your (likely painful) death. Read More >>

giz asks
What’s Wrong If You Have a Red, Shiny Nose?

All this talk about whether or not Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is problematic has obscured a very important question—i.e., what was actually wrong with Rudolph’s nose? Like, medically? Did no one ever think of taking him to a doctor, to see if there everything was okay with his nose, before being mean to him about it? Read More >>