Why is it so tough for some to exorcise the ghosts of their romantic pasts?

Lauren Howe, Stanford University A friend once grumbled that, given the choice, she’d rather see her ex miserable than herself happy. Few things in life are as traumatic as the end of a long-term, romantic relationship. Nonetheless, many people are able to eventually recover and move on relatively unscathed. Others, like my friend, aren’t soContinue reading “Why is it so tough for some to exorcise the ghosts of their romantic pasts?”

Should we scoff at the idea of love at first sight?

James Kuzner, Brown University For a lecture course I teach at Brown University called “Love Stories,” we begin at the beginning, with love at first sight. To its detractors, love at first sight must be an illusion – the wrong term for what is simply infatuation, or a way to sugarcoat lust. Buy into it,Continue reading “Should we scoff at the idea of love at first sight?”

Watching children learn how to lie

Gail Heyman, University of California San Diego For the liar, telling a lie has obvious costs. Keeping track of the lies one tells and trying to maintain the plausibility of a fictional narrative as real-world events intrude is mentally taxing. The fear of getting caught is a constant source of anxiety, and when it happens,Continue reading “Watching children learn how to lie”

The lies we tell on dating apps to find love

David Markowitz, University of Oregon Nearly one-fourth of young adults are looking for love through dating websites or apps. This relatively new form of courtship can give you access to a large pool of potential partners. It also presents a unique set of challenges. For example, you’ve probably heard about – or have personally experiencedContinue reading “The lies we tell on dating apps to find love”

Dating over Zoom? Don’t be surprised if those online sparks fizzle in person

Sheril Kirshenbaum, Michigan State University For those dipping their toes into the dating pool during stay-at-home orders, it’s been like swimming in a version of Netflix’s reality series “Love is Blind.” In the show, contestants must get engaged before ever actually meeting one another in person. And while a lockdown engagement might be a bitContinue reading “Dating over Zoom? Don’t be surprised if those online sparks fizzle in person”

How to have an all-renewable electric grid

David Timmons, University of Massachusetts Boston The main solution to climate change is well known – stop burning fossil fuels. How to do this is more complicated, but as a scholar who does energy modeling, I and others see the outlines of a post-fossil-fuel future: We make electricity with renewable sources and electrify almost everything.Continue reading “How to have an all-renewable electric grid”

In praise of the printed book: the value of concentration in the digital age

Nathan Hollier, Monash University There is an old saying that anxiety is the enemy of concentration. One of the best pieces of sports journalism I ever read was by Gene Tunney, world heavyweight champion of the 1920s, writing about how reading books helped him stay calm and focused in the lead-up to his most famousContinue reading “In praise of the printed book: the value of concentration in the digital age”

A beginner’s guide to reading and enjoying poetry

Andrew McMillan, Manchester Metropolitan University One of the things you get asked most when people find out that you’re a poet is whether you can recommend something that could be read at an upcoming wedding, or if you know something that might be suitable for a funeral. For most people, these occasions – as wellContinue reading “A beginner’s guide to reading and enjoying poetry”

Five coming-of-age novels where class and love collide

Kelly Beestone, University of Nottingham Young Adult Fiction (YA) picks apart first experiences, good and bad. They are often stories about the psychological and moral growth of a protagonist, which balance romance with social issues such as gender, race and class. Although marketed to an older audience, Sally Rooney’s 2018 novel Normal People shares manyContinue reading “Five coming-of-age novels where class and love collide”

eReaders aren’t destroying reading – they’re just changing it

Ryan Spencer, University of Canberra The nature of reading books is changing: the closure of traditional bookstores indicates that paper book sales are in decline. It is easy to feel as though this will discourage children from engaging with texts and make them more reluctant to read widely and often. However, eReading devices such asContinue reading “eReaders aren’t destroying reading – they’re just changing it”

Celebrating Oliver Sacks’ romantic science and a life now ending

Matthew Wade, Australian National University In the preface to The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (1998), popular neurologist Oliver Sacks outlines the rationale behind his brand of “romantic science”. Borrowed from friend and mentor AR Luria, the term describes a literary form operating “at the intersection of fact and fable”. With thisContinue reading “Celebrating Oliver Sacks’ romantic science and a life now ending”

How Oliver Sacks brought readers into his patients’ inner worlds

Declan Fahy, Dublin City University Oliver Sacks achieved global public renown because his writings melded two particular traits that cut across his dual role as doctor and writer: his focus on single patients rather than large populations and his profound empathy. These unique characteristics underpinned the distinctive contribution that the famed neuroscientist – who thisContinue reading “How Oliver Sacks brought readers into his patients’ inner worlds”

History teaches us that careful thought must go into planting trees

Brett M Bennett, University of Johannesburg The idea that forests increase rainfall is an old idea that has inspired scientists and the public for centuries. Over 500 years ago, Christopher Columbus came to believe that the American tropics had heavy, continuous afternoon rain because of its dense vegetation. In the 1860s to 1890s, the ideaContinue reading “History teaches us that careful thought must go into planting trees”

Technology changes how authors write, but the big impact isn’t on their style

Matthew Kirschenbaum, University of Maryland “Our writing instruments are also working on our thoughts.” Nietzsche wrote, or more precisely typed, this sentence on a Malling-Hansen Writing Ball, a wondrous strange contraption that looks a little like a koosh ball cast in brass and studded with typewriter keys. Depressing a key plunged a lever with theContinue reading “Technology changes how authors write, but the big impact isn’t on their style”

Shades of green: What gig economy workers can learn from the success of romance writers

Christine Larson, University of Colorado Boulder When “Fifty Shades Freed” opened in 2018, fans flocked to see bad boy Christian Grey (played by Jamie Dornan) bested by naughty-but-nice heroine Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson). A less racy but equally thrilling story, my research shows, is how romance writers are getting ahead in the digital era. WhileContinue reading “Shades of green: What gig economy workers can learn from the success of romance writers”

Cybersecurity’s weakest link: humans

Arun Vishwanath, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York There is a common thread that connects the hack into the sluicegate controllers of the Bowman Avenue dam in Rye, New York; the breach that compromised 20 million federal employee records at the Office of Personnel Management; and the recent spate of “ransomware” attacksContinue reading “Cybersecurity’s weakest link: humans”

Your devices’ latest feature? They can spy on your every move

H.V. Jagadish, University of Michigan We now have dozens of smart devices in our houses and even on our bodies. They improve our lives in so many ways – from lowering energy consumption in our homes to egging us on to be active. But these smart devices respond to whatever commands they are given: we’veContinue reading “Your devices’ latest feature? They can spy on your every move”

Why save a computer virus?

Howard Besser, New York University and Jonathan Farbowitz, New York University On average, 82,000 new malware threats are created each day. These include all sorts of malicious software – like computer viruses, computer worms and ransomware. Some are pranks or minor annoyances; others seek to pilfer data or extort money. Malware has been used toContinue reading “Why save a computer virus?”

Inside the fight against malware attacks

Christoph Csallner, University of Texas Arlington When malicious software attacks, computer scientists and security researchers want to know how the attackers got into what was supposed to be a secure system, and what they’re actually doing that’s causing problems for users. It’s a growing problem, affecting government projects, retail stores and individuals around the world.Continue reading “Inside the fight against malware attacks”

Computer says no: robo-advice is growing but we still don’t trust it

Andrew Reeson, CSIRO; Andreas Duenser, CSIRO, and Martin Lochner, University of Tasmania People are open to receiving financial advice from robots, our studies show, but there might be a way to go to in convincing people to trust them over a human. We surveyed 138 people about their attitudes to, and preferences for, superannuation adviceContinue reading “Computer says no: robo-advice is growing but we still don’t trust it”

We all need to forget, even robots

Christopher Stanton, Western Sydney University We all know what it’s like to forget something. A loved one’s birthday. A childhood memory. Even people capable of extraordinary memory feats – say, memorising the order of a deck of cards in less than 20 seconds – will still forget where they left their keys. People, it seems,Continue reading “We all need to forget, even robots”

The real reason middle-aged men in Lycra dominate cycling (it’s not a mid-life crisis)

James Beale, University of East London and Oliver Glackin, University of East London The British cycling boom of the last decade has brought a new creature onto the UK’s roads. They can be spotted in both town and country but they’re most commonly seen on a weekend, travelling in groups and easily recognisable from theirContinue reading “The real reason middle-aged men in Lycra dominate cycling (it’s not a mid-life crisis)”

Growing role of artificial intelligence in our lives is ‘too important to leave to men’

Wendy Hall, University of Southampton I must not have got the memo, because as a young lecturer in computer science at the University of Southampton in 1985 I was unaware that “women didn’t do computing”. Southampton had always recruited a healthy number of women to study computing in our fledgling department, and a quarter ofContinue reading “Growing role of artificial intelligence in our lives is ‘too important to leave to men’”