animals
Do Animals Deceive Each Other?

Ours is a dog-eat-dog world – but is the same true for dogs? I’ve seen dogs tussle over discarded bits of hamburger meat, but I’ve never seen one try to enlist another in a shady multi-level marketing scheme, nor have I seen one dog try to distract another dog while a third dog steals the second dog’s rat carcass or whatever. Excepting the snake who allegedly screwed over Eve, animals in general would seem to lack the complex powers of thought which allow us humans to more or less constantly scam, defraud and double-cross one another. Read More >>

science
What’s the Smartest Plant?

Compared to even the dumbest human being, your average tulip is a moron. But you’d have to be dumber than a tulip to deny that something – maybe not intelligence in its dictionary definition, but some guiding, autonomic power – is at work among the members of the plant kingdom. And if we grant plants this quasi-intelligence, then we have to concede that some of them must be smarter than others – cannier absorbers of bugs and sun, better users of their varied environments. Inevitably, then, the question is: which one’s smartest? Read More >>

science
How Much Human Skin Does a Person Ingest Over the Course of Their Lifetime?

The average American – and presumably a British person too – eats almost a tonne of food a year. This breaks down to roughly 630 of milk, cheese and ice cream, 185 pounds of meat, and an increasingly high dosage of anti-depressants. But where does human flesh fit in? Humans shed something like 500 million skin cells a day. The fact is that these literal millions of shed cells are making it right into our mouths, often – especially – when we think we’re only eating a couple of eggs or whatever. Read More >>

giz asks
How Will We Know the World Is Ending?

Visions of the end of the world tend to extremes—the planet fatally fracked, flooded, hurricaned, nuke-cratered. No survivors, or maybe one or two survivors, dazed and dust-grimed, roaming a wasted landscape, eating canned beans, rotted squirrels, each other. But the truth is we might be in for a slow burn, apocalypse-wise. The “end of the world” entails not just the actual end, that last gasp of human breath, but all the agony leading up to it, too. How, though—without the fire-and-brimstone theatrics—will we know that the planet is truly terminal? Read More >>

giz asks
Will Cryogenically Frozen People Ever Be Revived?

Corpse-freezing hasn’t exactly gone mainstream, but most people are now familiar with the concept: you lay out a ton of cash, sign some papers, and spend a couple post-death decades in a cutting-edge meat locker, calmly awaiting the conditions for your eventual revival. Over 300 cold, dead Americans – or dead, cold American brains, depending on which procedure they opted for (whole-body vs. brain-only) – can currently be found in storage facilities across the country. All of them took a gamble – one that was pretty cheap, metaphysically speaking: the worse case scenario here is just continued death. Read More >>

dreams
Why Do We Remember Some Dreams but Not Others?

If you’ve ever woken up on the brink of a heart attack, drenched in sweat and convinced you’ll never live down the shame of sprinting nude through downtown Pittsburgh, you know that some dreams are more memorable than others. Most dreams, in fact, seem totally unmemorable – at least in the sense that we can’t remember them. And yet every now and then a dream will linger into breakfast and well into the day, or month, or year – will become a memory like any other. Read More >>

giz asks
Would a BDSM Sex Robot Violate Asimov’s First Law of Robotics?

The sex robot community—the people who make the sex robots, and the people who want to have sex with the sex robots—suffered a blow this past week, when the US city of Houston voted to preemptively ban what would have been the first sex robot “brothel” in the US. But even those council members must know that their gesture was futile. Soon the stigma will fade, and Currys will sell these things in sixty different flavours. Which of course means that, sometime in the future, you’ll almost certainly be able to buy a BDSM robot. Read More >>

animals
Do Dogs Forget Their People?

Let’s say your long-term relationship totally implodes. Browsing for a new apartment, or a therapist that takes your insurance, you hear your dog bark in the other room – and realise, with a start, that it’s not actually your dog. Once you’re all moved out, the dog will be out of your life, too. Stewing in self-pity you think – and subsequently become convinced – that this dog, who you’ve fed and bathed who knows how many times, and coined several adorable nicknames for, will forget you ever existed by the start of next spring. Read More >>

health
Is Breakfast Cereal Any Good For You?

Wrangle up the right studies and you can make anything look deadly. Breakfast cereal—at least, the kind without cartoon mascots—might seem innocuous, and might be marketed as healthy, but that’s no reason to think that every naturally-flavoured bite isn’t speeding you towards the grave. Nothing, in this world, is above suspicion—not even tasteless bran flakes. Read More >>

giz asks
Do Kids Feel Stronger Emotions Than Adults?

It’s easy to feel smug around kids. You might not have it all together — you might, in fact, be rapidly disintegrating professionally and psychologically — but at least you can spill some apple juice without wailing inconsolably for six hours. Comparatively terrible things happen to you all the time, and you don’t freak out about it, or if you do, you do so quietly, not right there in the gym/office/strip-mall Popeye’s/etc. But are you really feeling any less, or have you just become more adept at deceiving others, and/or yourself? Read More >>

giz asks
Does Your Cat Actually Hate You?

Dogs wear their hearts on their sleeves; cats – or at least some cats, some of the time – can spend years at your side without making it totally clear that they know, or care, who you are. An expression vaguely resembling contentment flits across their face and you think, triumphantly: see! My cat doesn’t despise me. Read More >>

giz asks
Who Is the Most Powerful Supervillain? 

The supervillains who torment, thwart and otherwise mess with our universe’s well-meaning superheroes are, on the whole, a pretty foul bunch. But which of these supervillains is best at what they do? Put otherwise: if what supervillains do is try to inflict as much misery as possible on the largest number of people, which supervillain is most capable of pulling that off? Think of Darkseid, from DC Comics: instead of trying to live a meaningful and fulfilling life, he goes around trying to subject every single person in the universe to his screwed up will. Read More >>

giz asks
How Much Sleep Is Too Much Sleep?

An entire industry—with its own spokespeople, podcasts, best-sellers, retreats, truisms, etc—has sprung up around sleep. Give or take a contrarian or two, the message of most of this stuff seems to be that sleep is good, and that if you’re not sleeping seven or eight hours a night, you should be. And since you’re probably not sleeping seven or eight hours a night—since, in all likelihood, you can barely focus on this sentence, having sacrificed one or two or all of your needed eight hours to soothing your newborn, or streaming bad TV, or snorting cocaine—what all this stuff is really saying is: sleep more. Read More >>

giz asks
Can You Remember Being a Baby?

Every life-stage has its share of novelty – first kiss, first tax return, first twinge of certain death – but when it comes to new experiences most of us peak in infancy. Just laying there, gargling and soiling our diapers, we as infants cycle through thousands of firsts. It would be nice to remember some of them, as our lives slow down – as we settle into the same office chair for the 200th time, and sip from the same novelty coffee mug. But infancy scans as a blank for most of us. Read More >>

giz asks
Can You Get Ill From Air Conditioning?

At the peak of summer, when just walking to and from the corner store necessitates a shower and a change of clothes, air-conditioning can seem almost too good to be true. It is one of the few staples of modernity without severe and readily apparent downsides: all it does, or all it seems to do, is make things cooler, while generating a soft, lulling noise redolent of childhood afternoons spent indoors watching cartoons. What’s the catch? How exactly are these things slowly killing us, like every other good thing in the world? Read More >>