Why We Tell Each Other Stories
Humans are natural story tellers, but why? Author Jonathan Gotschall says we tell stories for evolutionary and cultural reasons. We even tell stories to ourselves—and call it our identity.
What's the Latest Development?
Author Jonathan Gotschall has written a new book examining why humans are such natural story tellers and what purpose those stories serve in our lives. At an evolutionary level, nature may select for good storytellers, who have a tendency to impress others with their 'gaudy, peacocklike displays of our skill, intelligence, and creativity.' Stories also help to bind society together by passing down invented situations in which moral thinking features heavily. "Stories socialize... Stories moralize. They help us figure out our values and whet our need for justice," says Gotschall.
What's the Big Idea?
We also tell stories to ourselves. Whether you are explaining the role of family in your life or how you managed a romantic breakup, the telling and retelling of memories helps to impose order and meaning in an otherwise chaotic existence. "We spend our lives crafting stories that make us the noble—if flawed—protagonists of first-person dramas," says Gotschall. "A life story is not, however, an objective account." When it comes to psychological therapy, it may be our ability to tell ourselves modified versions of the truth which aids in recovery from a traumatic event.
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Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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