giz asks
Which Superstitions Are Based on Facts?

Superstitions – passed down through generations, or developed spontaneously on certain online forums – gobble up thousands of productive hours yearly. But it would be wrong to say that all that time spent avoiding ladders or cracks in the pavement is wasted. For one thing, we’d probably just be spending that time on some equally useless activity, like working. For another, superstitions are essential binding agents between people, generations, and some vague notion of the Past, from which most of these superstitions sprang, and where, presumably, they made somewhat more sense. To learn more about which superstitions have some basis in fact, for this week’s Giz Asks we reached out to a number of experts in the field. Read More >>

giz asks
What’s the Softest Thing?

There are a lot of soft things out there: cats, infants, expertly-laundered sweaters. If there was some kind of omniscient softness guide, ranking every item in the universe in order of softness, these three items would for sure land towards the top. Of course, such a guide would be very difficult to assemble: as softness is at least partly subjective, you’d need teams of volunteer softness-assessors to handle each item, and some fair/statistically sound way of averaging all their reactions. And at some point, one of these softness-assessors would surely ask why exactly they’re doing any of this in the first place, lowering morale and jeopardising the whole project. Which is why, for this week’s Giz Asks, we’re keeping things simple: four materials scientists, representing no one but themselves, weighing in on their choice for the absolute softest thing. Read More >>

data
Will My Data Be Online Forever?

We’ve all pretty much reconciled ourselves to the fact that a handful of unaccountable technology executives have, with our help, generated the largest repository of personal information ever assembled, housed in vast fortified complexes around the globe and sifted continually for the benefit of corporations, federal agencies, political campaigns, etc. Less clear is the lifespan of everything they’ve gleaned. Are they really going to hold on to this stuff forever? And if they are, and if we’d rather they didn’t, is there anything we can do about it? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of experts to find out. Read More >>

exercise
What is the Best Exercise?

There are countless questions the novice exerciser should be asking themselves before their first day at the gym. I have no idea what those questions are, but I do know that, in exercise as in everything else, it is important to cut corners and maximise one’s leisure time. Read More >>

internet
Why is Social Media So Addictive?

Social media is awful and whatever pleasures it confers in the form of mildly amusing memes or a fleeting sense of community/belonging are massively outweighed by its well-documented downsides whose psychic consequences are of interest to its owners only in the sense that past a certain threshold people might turn away from their platforms and cut off the endless stream of monetisable private data that sustain their business models and corrode conventional ideas about privacy, self-determination, etc. Read More >>

giz asks
Is the “Death Drive” Real?

Statistically, at least ten people reading this article will be dead within sixteen months. I just made that statistic up, but if you felt a little flutter of excitement at the prospect of your imminent demise, you might be verifying the death drive – Freud’s theory, postulated in 1920, that each consciousness is dually saddled with a will-to-live and its fatalistic opposite, the latter best-expressed by way of such self-annihilating activities as war, cigarette smoking, etc. Read More >>

aliens
Which Religion Is Friendliest to the Idea of Aliens?

In the annals of most world religions, a quick walk-on from an alien would not, at least on the surface, seem particularly strange. Unusual occurrences are kind of key to the whole enterprise. And adherents of both camps – UFO-watchers and the religious – know what it means to believe in the face of long odds. Should a member of the former group decide to link up with the latter, where would they feel most at home? What religion is most amenable to the concept of life on other planets? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of experts in religion to find out. Read More >>

science
What’s the Most Monogamous Animal?

Animals, we know, typically lack the hang-ups that make human mating so difficult. You won’t find a bonobo moping around, stewing in jealousy. Nor will you find a bonobo contentedly fucking his or her bonobo-spouse to the exclusion of all other viable bonobos for months or decades at a time. And though that particular species may take it to an extreme – mother-on-son action is not uncommon – their non-monogamous nature inheres in most of the rest of the animal kingdom. Only a minority of species operate on the one-partner model, and of these even fewer practice it on something like a human level. For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of experts for their take on the latter group’s most monogamous member. Read More >>

giz asks
What Was the Most Fun Thing Humans Could Do 5,000 Years Ago?

The next time you’re dissociating on designer Dark Web drugs, porn in one tab and Succession in the other, group chat going strong on the phone with which, at any time of day, you might meet a cute stranger online, or read two or even three moderately funny tweets, take a moment to feel for your fun-deprived forebears – not your parents, who at least had Quaaludes, or your grandparents, but the bored-as-fuck subjects of late prehistory, c.a. 3,000 B.C., who could not even read to pass the time, the invention of writing being four long centuries off. What, in those few moments not spent foraging, or fashioning rudimentary vases, was the absolute most fun thing these people could do, assuming that it was not, in fact, making historically significant pottery? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of experts in early human history to find out. Read More >>

health
Why Is There No Male Birth Control Yet?

The injustice of our current contraceptive regime needs no elaboration. Enough to say that it’s bizarre, at this late date, that male birth control still does not exist. Every couple of years some scientist says they’re on the brink, and the same stale monologue jokes are hauled out of storage; afterwards they are placed back on the shelf, with no expectation, on anyone’s part, that they’ve been heard for the last time. Read More >>

food
What’s the Healthiest Food?

The first thing to realise is that new-year resolutions are a self-defeating sham inimical to the process of real and lasting change. The second thing to realise is that you will never change. But you can, maybe, eat a bit better. We all know, basically what that entails – willpower, produce, maybe some kind of juicer – but it’s easy to get lost online, where counterintuitive, contradictory, and flatly absurd advice proliferates beneath every half-hearted ‘healthy diet’ search. And so for this week’s Giz Asks, we’ve asked a number of experts to weigh in on the most healthy thing a person can eat. Read More >>

science
Why Am I Suddenly Afraid of Flying?

For years you’ve flown without issue – no breathing exercises, no pills – but suddenly you can’t board without picturing catastrophe. No one you know has recently died in a crash; you have not, to your knowledge, dwelled excessively on those Boeing catastrophes; and yet suddenly, out of nowhere, you’ve become the kind of person who’s afraid to fly. Read More >>

science
What Causes Foggy Brain?

If you’re like me, you can barely read this paragraph right now. I’m amazed I’m even capable of writing it. Most of us suffering from brain fog can recall a time, perhaps illusory, when setting and achieving goals was simple, more or less – when the main impediments to accomplishment, or simply making breakfast, were external to ourselves. We wonder: how did it happen? Is it ageing, or luck, or diet, or what? Can it be reversed? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of experts to find out. Read More >>

science
Do Smart Drugs Work?

If you’re looking to make your brain work better, you have plenty of options. You can start sleeping better, invest in a juicer, spend time at a decent gym. Or – if you’re pressed for time – you can pop a bunch of pills. Read More >>

technology
What Are the Biggest Challenges Technology Must Overcome in the Next 10 Years?

Technology’s fine – I definitely like texting, and some of the shows on Netflix are tolerable – but the field’s got some serious kinks to work out. Some of these are hardware-related: when, for instance, will quantum computing become practical? Others are of more immediate concern. Is there some way to stop latently homicidal weirdos from getting radicalised online? Can social networks be tweaked in such a way as to not nearly guarantee the outbreak of the second Civil War? As AI advances and proliferates, how can we stop it from perpetuating, or worsening, injustice and discrimination? Read More >>