Is Human Nature Selfless?

Is human nature selfless? The conclusion of many biologists that life is a series of fierce competitions for resources is put in doubt by the seemingly selfless behavior of many species.

"From Aesop’s fables to those of La Fontaine, talking animals—monkeys, wolves in sheep’s clothing, grasshoppers, ants—have exposed human foibles and vices and occasional virtues. In so doing, they challenge all rigid boundaries between humans and other species as well as the common view of human wrong doing as 'bestial' in nature—a term Erasmus de clared deeply unfair to animals, given the scale of violence and deceit practiced by human beings. In his engaging book The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness, Oren Harman, a professor of the history of science at Bar Ilan University in Israel, presents a wealth of scientific research bearing on forms of cooperation, helpfulness, even self-sacrifice among many species."

U.S. Navy controls inventions that claim to change "fabric of reality"

Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.

U.S. Navy ships

Credit: Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • U.S. Navy holds patents for enigmatic inventions by aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais.
  • Pais came up with technology that can "engineer" reality, devising an ultrafast craft, a fusion reactor, and more.
  • While mostly theoretical at this point, the inventions could transform energy, space, and military sectors.
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  • As the material that makes all living things what/who we are, DNA is the key to understanding and changing the world. British geneticist Bryan Sykes and Francis Collins (director of the Human Genome Project) explain how, through gene editing, scientists can better treat illnesses, eradicate diseases, and revolutionize personalized medicine.
  • But existing and developing gene editing technologies are not without controversies. A major point of debate deals with the idea that gene editing is overstepping natural and ethical boundaries. Just because they can, does that mean that scientists should be edit DNA?
  • Harvard professor Glenn Cohen introduces another subcategory of gene experiments: mixing human and animal DNA. "The question is which are okay, which are not okay, why can we generate some principles," Cohen says of human-animal chimeras and arguments concerning improving human life versus morality.

Physicists push limits of Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

New studies stretch the boundaries of physics, achieving quantum entanglement in larger systems.

Entangled drumheads.

Credit: Aalto University.
Surprising Science
  • New experiments with vibrating drums push the boundaries of quantum mechanics.
  • Two teams of physicists create quantum entanglement in larger systems.
  • Critics question whether the study gets around the famous Heisenberg uncertainty principle.
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