Science & Technology

Can consciousness be explained by quantum physics? My research takes us a step closer to finding out

Some scientists believe consciousness is generated by quantum processes, but the theory is yet to be empirically tested. vitstudio/Shutterstock Cristiane de Morais Smith, Utrecht University One of the most important open questions in science is how our consciousness is established. In the 1990s, long before winning the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for his prediction of black holes, physicist Roger …

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When did humans start experimenting with alcohol and drugs?

Nicholas Longrich, Author provided Nicholas R. Longrich, University of Bath Humans constantly alter the world. We fire fields, turn forests into farms, and breed plants and animals. But humans don’t just reshape our external world – we engineer our internal worlds, and reshape our minds. One way we do this is by upgrading our mental “software”, so to speak, with …

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Bitcoin alternatives could provide a green solution to energy-guzzling cryptocurrencies

24K-Production/Shutterstock Sankar Sivarajah, University of Bradford and Kamran Mahroof, University of Bradford The cryptocurrency bitcoin now uses up more electricity a year than the whole of Argentina, according to recent estimates from the University of Cambridge. That’s because the creation of a bitcoin, in a process called mining, is achieved by powerful computers that work night and day to decode …

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Human behaviour: what scientists have learned about it from the pandemic

People haven’t been as irrational during the pandemic as some initially thought. Jennifer M. Mason/Shutterstock Stephen Reicher, University of St Andrews During the pandemic, a lot of assumptions were made about how people behave. Many of those assumptions were wrong, and they led to disastrous policies. Several governments worried that their pandemic restrictions would quickly lead to “behavioural fatigue” so …

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Pooling society’s collective intelligence helped fight COVID – it must help fight future crises too

Wisiel/Shutterstock Aleks Berditchevskaia, Nesta and Kathy Peach, Nesta A Global Pandemic Radar is to be created to detect new COVID variants and other emerging diseases. Led by the WHO, the project aims to build an international network of surveillance hubs, set up to share data that’ll help us monitor vaccine resistance, track diseases and identify new ones as they emerge. …

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The surface of Venus is cracked and moves like ice floating on the ocean – likely due to tectonic activity

New research suggests that Venus’ crust is broken into large blocks – the dark reddish–purple areas – that are surrounded by belts of tectonic structures shown in lighter yellow–red. Paul K. Byrne/NASA/USGS, CC BY-ND Paul K. Byrne, North Carolina State University The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work. The big idea Much of the brittle, upper …

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Identity fusion: why some people will go to extremes for the beliefs of a group

Shutterstock/hobbit Roger Whitaker, Cardiff University Football fans often become so deeply connected to their club and to other fans, as though they’re related. They’re willing to support the group on a lifelong basis, with unwaivering pride even in the face of losses. At first glance, it can seem puzzling when people align with groups or beliefs that involve a personal …

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