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 >>

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 >>

giz asks
What’s the Newest Animal?

Bears. Donkeys. Fat, friendly dogs. These animals—animals, generally—have been around for an extremely long time, long enough to feel like a fixed part of the landscape. It’s easy to forget that these creatures weren’t always there, and didn’t always look like they do now. On human—as opposed to geologic—time, forms seem more or less fixed; sexual mores and national attitudes towards fascism might change in the course of one’s lifetime, but zebras stay more or less the same. Taking the long view, though, it’s worth wondering—which of these animals, as we know them now, has been around for the least amount of time? Read More >>

giz asks
What’s the Most Dangerous Food of All Time?

Surveying the whole scope of human history vis-à-vis food, a couple of themes emerge. One is that humans like their food to taste good. Another is that they like it to not kill them. These two qualities often cohere in the same foodstuff—apples, for instance, taste great, and are not to my knowledge toxic—but inevitably the tastes-good/won’t-kill-you ratio’s sometimes less than ideal. For some foods, this is a selling point—fugu, say, the poisonous fish you need a certificate to properly prepare. For others, lethality’s just an unfortunate byproduct—as with the alloy in early tin cans, which sometimes gave people lead poisoning. Read More >>

giz asks
What Happens When Two Black Holes Collide?

On 14 September 2015, signals from one of the Universe’s most mind-boggling, powerful events produced the tiniest signal in a pair of detectors, one in the US state of Louisiana and one in the state of Washington. They’d detected two already-wild objects, black holes, slamming into one another. 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 >>

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 >>