How Do People Actually ‘Die From Old Age’?

Thousands are currently engaged in solving the problem of death. Maybe they’ll succeed, and out of sheer boredom I’ll reread this sentence when I’m 900 years old, reflecting fondly on the first wasted century of my life. In the meantime, billions are going to die – some from disease, some in freak accidents, and a substantial number from what we generally call “old age.” That last sounds like a pleasant way to go, comparatively – a peaceful winding-down. But what exactly does it look like? What does it really mean to die from old age? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of experts to find out. Read More >>

How Do I Stop Tapping My Foot, Biting My Nails, or Twirling My Hair?

Remember offices? Assuming that you do, and that you at some point worked in one, you’ve likely spent at least some time itemising your colleagues’ annoying/conspicuous habits, or having your annoying/conspicuous habits itemised. Every ostensible workplace meeting is at the same time a showcase for a wide range of half-conscious behaviours including but not limited to foot-tapping, nail-biting, hair- and/or pen-twirling, etc. That anything ever managed to get with all those heels clacking on the linoleum and all those moist nail shards flying through the air remains a mystery of pre-virus life. But even without the presence of judgemental coworkers, there are reasons to want to quit these kinds of habits. For this week’s Giz Asks, we talked to a number of experts about how you might go about doing that. Read More >>

What Did People Use Before Google to Search the Web?

The year is 1997. You’re wearing whatever people wore back then – some kind of denim jacket, I’m guessing – and talking to your friend about your new favourite movie, the recently released Mike Myers vehicle Austin Powers. You’re quoting the movie, and your friend thinks this is hilarious. Then things take a dark turn. “I thought Randy Quaid was excellent,” your friend says. “Randy Quaid?” you think, trying hard not to punch the wall. “Randy Quaid wasn’t in Austin Powers.” You try explaining this to your friend – “I believe,” you say tersely, “that you’re thinking of Clint Howard” – but your friend is adamant. To settle this dispute, and salvage what remains of your friendship, you boot up your 90-pound computer tower. Forty minutes later, you have made it onto the internet. The question now is: Where do you go? How, before Google, did people settle asinine disputes, and/or find other sorts of information? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of experts to find out. Read More >>

What’s the Best Human Brain Alternative for Hungry Zombies?

Let’s say you’re a zombie. You’re lumbering around, doing your zombie-mumble, and just ten feet ahead you see a living human being. Your first impulse, of course, is to head over there and eat their brain. And you’re about to do just that, when suddenly you feel a pang of something like shame. You remember, dimly, being a human yourself. You remember how you might’ve felt, if an undead weirdo got to gnawing on your skull. You’re at an impasse: at once desperate for brain meat and reluctant to kill for it. So you head to your zombie psychologist and start explaining the situation, and your zombie psychologist starts grinning, which annoys you at first – I mean, you’re baring your soul to this guy – until he explains what’s on his mind. Turns out, he’s been toying with an idea – a pilot program for conscience-stricken zombies. Instead of human brains, they’ll be fed stuff that looks and tastes just like brains, thereby sparing them the obligation to kill. The only thing they need to work out is: what would be an acceptable substitute for human brains? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of brain experts to find out. Read More >>

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Is There a Way to Cure or Prevent Nightmares?

Are you spending your sleeping hours getting chased down endless hallways by men with enormous claws for hands? Shrieking in pain as wolves chomp your legs? Re-experiencing various traumatic incidents from your childhood from the vantage point of a ghost, forced to watch the same disasters play out over and over again with no ability to affect their outcome? If so, this week’s Giz Asks is for you: we reached out to a number of experts in the field of dream research, to figure out how to put an end to chronic nightmares. Read More >>

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Could Teleporting Ever Work?

Have the major airlines spent decades suppressing teleportation research? Have a number of renowned scientists in the field of teleportation studies disappeared under mysterious circumstances? Is there a cork board at the FBI linking Delta Airlines, shady foreign security firms, and dozens of murdered research professors? Is that investigation being suppressed internally by an agent with close personal ties to Delta’s CEO? Read More >>

Do Animals Practice Revenge?

Over the years, we at Giz Asks have probed countless aspects of animal behavior and psychology. Which animal is the horniest? The filthiest? The most inclined towards monogamy? Which one kills the most people? Do any of them exercise? And so on. Read More >>

What Technology Has Accidentally Killed the Most People?

Show me a museum of important historical inventors and I will show you a gallery of deluded mass murderers. I’m not talking about machine gun manufacturers or nuclear scientists – those people, at least, have some sense of what they’re up to. I’m talking about the folks behind the printing press, the automobile, various kinds of boat technology. These people tried to improve the world, and succeeded, but also indirectly killed millions of people. That, at least, is the lesson of this week’s Giz Asks, in which a number of historians wrestle with the question of which technological innovation has accidentally killed the most people. Read More >>

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Why Do My Selfies Look So Weird?

It’s a fraught thing, selfie-taking. One moment you’re thinking of yourself as more or less human-looking, and then – click – you realise you’ve got it all wrong, and that strangers on the street probably pity you, on account of your dead eyes and strange head. Or you see, on your phone, a perfectly normal-looking person who just happens not to resemble you in any way. Mirrors are much friendlier in this regard: you tend to know what you’re getting. To figure out why you don’t, with selfies – why, so often, the selfies look so weird – for this week’s Giz Asks we reached out to a number of experts in psychology and digital photography. Read More >>

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How Will Our Bodies Change from Being Inside for Months?

According to multiple ads I’ve seen, we are in this thing together. “Together we will prevail,” the ads say. You lay there – alone, in a shirt stained with who can say what – and think: nothing. What is there to think? If you were going to have an interesting thought, you would’ve had it weeks ago. Better to wreck yourself with caffeine and awful snacks, is my take, which diverges somewhat from the advice in our latest Giz Asks – an investigation into what exactly this quarantine might be doing to our bodies, and how we might mitigate some of those effects. Read More >>

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Is ‘Lucid Dreaming’ Real?

Reality has plenty of exit-hatches: strong drugs, streamed television, certain corners of social media. But the most immersive reality-dissolver might be lucid dreaming, wherein the dreamer recognises they’re dreaming and proceeds to reshape their dreamscape per their own specifications. A slight disreputableness clings to the phenomenon – it sounds like a schoolyard fiction, the kind of thing a kid would make up to impress his friends. But there are thousands who claim to experience them regularly, and countless guides online purporting to teach you how to achieve them. So is lucid dreaming real? And – if it is – what’s the science behind it? To find out, for this week’s Giz Asks we reached out to a number of experts in the interrelated fields of sleeping and dreaming. Read More >>

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Which Historical Figure Was the Mark Zuckerberg of Their Time?

Purely on the level of physical appearance, Mark Zuckerberg is unprecedented; I doubt he’s ever once heard the phrase “you know who you look like?” unless the follow-up was “an unfinished police sketch left out in the rain.” But if we’re talking about Zuckerberg the man – or, more precisely, the nihilistically expansionist tech mogul – the historical record is rich with equivalents. There are other people who, like Zuck, inaugurated or sped along some paradigm shift in communications and in the process – or as an integral part of the process – wrecked this or that aspect of society. For this week’s Giz Asks we reached out to a number of experts for their pick for the quintessential proto-Zuck. Read More >>

Why Does Spending Money Feel So Good?

Assuming that you don’t have an infinite supply of money – assuming your supply of money is, like most personal money-supplies, limited, and closely-hoarded, and essential to your survival – then diminishing what you have in any way should be a painful undertaking. And yet blowing loads of cash on stuff you don’t need tends generally to feel great, at least in the moment. What explains this phenomenon? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of experts to find out. Read More >>

Why Do We Use Dark Humour to Deal With Terrifying Situations?

Life’s hard for the humourless – loved ones die, hurricanes and infections ravage the planet, and all they can do is sit around and grieve about it. Some of us, meanwhile, watching our houses burn down and our spouses succumb to hazily-understood pancreatic ailments, can at least leaven the pain with a well-timed joke. As distraction, coping mechanism or aid to acceptance, dark humour has helped millions through crushing personal and/or world-historical ordeals. For this week’s Giz Asks we reached out to a number of experts to suss out the reasons behind this dark phenomenon. Read More >>

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Why Do Cute Things Make Me Mad?

A couple years back, a team of research psychologists ID’d a phenomenon called “cute aggression,” wherein the sight of something cute (an infant, a puppy) paradoxically yields statements like ‘I just want to kill it!!’ The term pinpointed something universal and more or less instantly went viral, and a couple of years later a team of neuroscientists verified its basis in the brain. As the term settles into the small glossary of psych-terms widely known by non-professionals, for this week’s Giz Asks we reached out to members of both teams, as well as a few experts in the burgeoning field of ‘cute studies,’ for a definitive handle on how it all works, and where research in the field may be headed. Read More >>