Changing Swine, One Pig At A Time

Supplying food for the entire world is not easy, and when people have an ethical choice to make, it only makes the situation more complex. Factory farms have been under extensive, but deserved scrutiny within the last few years, and now, the somewhat daunting task of creating a morally acceptable, feasible livestock system is in the hands of the general public and the nation’s largest corporations. The pig is the most popular animal for consumption worldwide (about 40 percent of all meat consumed), making their living environment a highly controversial issue.

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When Gas Changed Everything: A History of The Flatulence Industry

I’m sitting uncomfortably in my chair waiting for her to arrive. Tucked away in the Fulton River District of Chicago the restaurant is overpriced, bland, and a bit stuffy. I’m nervous—sweating. Sweating. Sweating. Sweating. Beads of saline waste collect under my arms, on my palms, and across my forehead. I quickly wipe my forehead with my sleeve, hoping nobody notices. She’s so beautiful and much too smart for me. What’s a PhD student at the University of Chicago doing with me. I think. There’s no way she’ll ever love my farts.

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Your Femur Controls Your Brain

Feeling moody lately? It could be a lack of sleep, or a stressful new job – or it could be your bones. A new study published in the journal Cell by the French geneticist and physician Gerard Karsenty explores osteocalcin, a protein that sends signals from the bones to the rest of your body to […]

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The New Four Degrees of Separation

The six degrees of separation are a relic from our ancient past. In a world where Facebook maps the connections between hundreds of millions people, the chain connecting you to any other person on the Earth is now less than four humans long. Researchers long suspected that social media tools like Facebook have decreased the […]

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A Mess of Jiggling Things: Richard Feynman Explains Rubber Bands, Fire, and Magnets

“The world is a dynamic mess of jiggling things,” says Richard Feynman, renowned quantum physicist, bongo drummer, and educator. He’s sitting in an easy chair explaining how rubber bands work through mechanisms of heat. “When you pull open a rubber band, the strings get straighter” he says. “But these strings are being bombarded by these […]

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Never Forget: The US Tried To Put A Ring Around Earth To Stop Communism

In 1961 the US government decided that the best way to to stop the rapid advance of communism was to shoot a bunch of really tiny antennas into space to make a metal ring of radio signal around the world. Because if the Soviets tried to cut off our long distance communications we could give […]

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What Caffeine Does to Your Brain: A Cellular Chronicle of the Most Common Psychoactive Drug

Some mornings my mind gets trapped in a fog of pain. I can’t concentrate, my body aches, I’m nauseated, I’m irritable, and I can feel my pulse pound-pound-pounding in my head. I haven’t done anything extreme to warrant this internal pestilence. Rather, not doing something is the source of my problem. I’m in withdrawal—I’m craving […]

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Scientists Unveil Lab-Grown Burger At Public Taste Test, It Could Save The World

The people of planet Earth really like meat. By last count, humans consumed 270 million tons of meat per year and that number is expected to double by 2050. Unlike fruits, vegetables, or grains, meat is particularly hard to grow. It’s limitations will make keeping up with global demand impossible. But at an event on […]

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The “Crack Baby” Myth

Does prenatal exposure to crack produce mutant babies, or is reality a bit more complicated? A PowerPoint presentation begins with quotes about “crack babies,” humans exposed to cocaine during gestation. One quote suggests that crack babies will have IQs around 50, while another laments their permanent inferiority. The facts that follow, however, disprove the myth […]

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Could We Make a Black Hole If We Wanted?

It might not be a good idea, but if we wanted to make a black hole on Earth, would it be possible and how would we do it? On September 10, 2008, it was widely speculated the world would come to an end. A black hole would explode from the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, consume […]

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Commentary Ticker

  • Google Glass Lets You Take Photos With Your Brain
    July 12, 2014 | 4:02 pm

    If you haven’t heard, electroencephalograms (EEGs) have been getting better. Way better. Artificial limbs and even video game controllers are utilizing the non-invasive brain-wave monitoring method to guide computers by thought. Now English startup This Place has developed a way to bring the technology to Google Glass, allowing Google’s wearable to read your mind. Well, […]

  • Android Art: The Accidental Selfies of Google Art Project
    July 5, 2014 | 11:11 am

    Within the cultural centers of the world lurks a mechanical beast draped in silver spinning madly and capturing everything, sometimes even itself. In 2011 Google created the Art Project, an initiative to bring their Street View technology inside the cultural epicenters of the world. Google enlisted 17 world-class museums in short time. Institutions such as […]

  • Purple Mountunes Majesty: The Most Patriotic Playlist
    July 4, 2014 | 12:13 pm

    A while ago, Paul Lamere of The Echo Nest, a music-analysis company, took to finding each state’s most distinctive, yet popular, artist in a viral article. Spotify took note, purchasing Echo Nest for their analytical talent. Together, they’ve released a blog post documenting each state’s most distinctively American song creating a patriotic playlist for the […]

  • Emojinealogy: Where the Heck Emojis Come From
    July 2, 2014 | 3:10 pm

    On June 16th, the Unicode Consortium announced that 250 new emoji would be added to the list of symbols available to people’s cellphones and computer devices. The list of the new symbols can be found on Emojipedia. And no, the list doesn’t include the much needed minority representation, but it does include your favorite (?) […]

  • The Decline and Fall of the American Mall
    June 24, 2014 | 9:07 pm

    For ages, the shopping mall was as essential to the architecture of suburbia as Levittowns and freeways. But in an era of online shopping, these epicenters of brick and mortar yesteryear are quietly being abandoned across the country. While the U.S. currently has around 1,500, the number may soon shrink, and rapidly, leading to abandoned […]

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