How Smells Affect the Brain

Researchers studying the most ancient yet least understood of the five senses—smell—have discovered a previously unknown step in how odors are detected and processed by the brain.

The brain is constantly bombarded by smells, so how does it filter and categorize the scents that define our days? "Scientists have discovered a dialogue between the bulb and the cortex conducted by rapidly firing nerve cells. 'It was originally thought that the olfactory bulb filtered and the olfactory cortex made decisions on whether something is, for example, edible,' said lead researcher Diego Restrepo, University of Colorado neuroscience professor. 'Our study says it's not quite like that. You process information on reward in the olfactory bulb, send it to the cortex and there is a dialogue between the two. Then the brain will act.'"

Why a great education means engaging with controversy

Jonathan Zimmerman explains why teachers should invite, not censor, tough classroom debates.

Sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies
  • During times of war or national crisis in the U.S., school boards and officials are much more wary about allowing teachers and kids to say what they think.
  • If our teachers avoid controversial questions in the classroom, kids won't get the experience they need to know how to engage with difficult questions and with criticism.
  • Jonathan Zimmerman argues that controversial issues should be taught in schools as they naturally arise. Otherwise kids will learn from TV news what politics looks like – which is more often a rant than a healthy debate.
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Are these 100 people killing the planet?

Controversial map names CEOs of 100 companies producing 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Image: Jordan Engel, reused via Decolonial Media License 0.1
Strange Maps
  • Just 100 companies produce 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
  • This map lists their names and locations, and their CEOs.
  • The climate crisis may be too complex for these 100 people to solve, but naming and shaming them is a good start.
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SpaceX catches Falcon Heavy nosecone with net-outfitted boat

It marks another milestone in SpaceX's long-standing effort to make spaceflight cheaper.

Technology & Innovation
  • SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy into space early Tuesday morning.
  • A part of its nosecone – known as a fairing – descended back to Earth using special parachutes.
  • A net-outfitted boat in the Atlantic Ocean successfully caught the reusable fairing, likely saving the company millions of dollars.
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