Category: Science

Why Lyft Is Going Carbon-Neutral, and Uber Isn’t

Taking a Lyft is about to be a little easier on the planet—and on the conscience. The ride-hailing service announced that starting next week it will go carbon-neutral. Lyft will actively offset the carbon-dioxide pollution produced by its more than 10 million rides worldwide each week. In short, this means that taking a Lyft will probably not make global warming…

Your Eyes Aren’t Windows Into Your Soul

To understand the expressive range of the human face, nothing beats watching a colleague scream his head off in slow motion. When my lab began to study protective reflexes in the early 2000s, the video cameras came out and the place became a scare factory. Graduate students took to lurking in hidden corners and lunging out with Velociraptor shrieks. Sundry…

The Chemistry of Nail Art

As I type these words, my nails are 10 small silver mirrors, reflecting the overhead fluorescent lights as I move my fingers across my keyboard. I learned about these so-called “chrome” nails from The Atlantic’s fashionable deputy web editor Swati Sharma, and shortly thereafter, she and I went and got manicures so I could see the process in action. The…

The Chemistry of Nail Art

As I type these words, my nails are 10 small silver mirrors, reflecting the overhead fluorescent lights as I move my fingers across my keyboard. I learned about these so-called “chrome” nails from The Atlantic’s fashionable deputy web editor Swati Sharma, and shortly thereafter, she and I went and got manicures so I could see the process in action. The…

The Planet That Took Us Beyond the Solar System

For millennia, the only planets we knew of were the ones in our own solar system. That changed in October 1995, when a pair of Swiss astrophysicists discovered a planet orbiting a sun-like star about 50 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Pegasus. For decades, scientists had suspected that other planets existed in the cosmos, and they finally had the…

All of the World’s Yeast Probably Originated in China

When scientists in France set out to sequence 1,000 yeast genomes, they looked at strains from all the places you might expect: beer, bread, wine. But also: sewage, termite mounds, tree bark, the infected nail of a 4-year-old Australian girl, oil-contaminated asphalt, fermenting acorn meal in North Korea, horse dung, fruit flies, human blood, seawater, a rotting banana. For five…