A Big, Wasteful Human Lightbulb

Not that you spend too much time wondering what life would be like if you were a light bulb…but, in case you’re curious, your body’s existence is equivalent to a 100-watt light bulb, left on 24 hours a day. Now, add in the amount of energy it takes to create the material goods necessary to fuel your body—the energy required for farming, manufacturing, etc.—and you and everyone you know turns out to be equal to 25 100-watt light bulbs. It’s an interesting visualization of our carbon footprint, and a handy index of our world’s supreme inefficiency, courtesy of today’s guest, the population expert Joel Cohen.

For the professor of population studies at Rockefeller and Columbia Universities, understanding the impact of human existence through light bulbs is yet another example of the rare insights gleaned through Cohen's incredibly multifaceted approach to the dynamics of the world’s population. Professor Cohen also provides a fascinating perspective on just how interconnected our world is, explaining how global populations, economics, environments, cultures and human health all intersect in meat—a discussion that ranges from Chinese pigs and American birds to religious rituals in the Atlas Mountains. 

Studying how various realms of society, nature, and individual lives interact has not only led Professor Cohen to some interesting observations, it also puts him in a prime position to define and critique some of our most glaring inefficiencies. For example, the fact that Earth has 6.8 billion residents and produces enough food to feed between 9 and 11 billion people, yet 1 billion go hungry. How can we fix this? Cohen also reveals some fascinating statistics on how much of our land and resources we use in the feeding of farm animals—instead of directly feeding humans—that will likely make you rethink your approach to meat and industrial farming. 

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Radical theory says our universe sits on an inflating bubble in an extra dimension

Cosmologists propose a groundbreaking model of the universe using string theory.

Getty Images/Suvendu Giri
Surprising Science
  • A new paper uses string theory to propose a new model of the universe.
  • The researchers think our universe may be riding a bubble expanded by dark energy.
  • All matter in the universe may exist in strings that reach into another dimension.
Keep reading Show less

Your body’s full of stuff you no longer need. Here's a list.

Evolution doesn't clean up after itself very well.

Image source: Ernst Haeckel
Surprising Science
  • An evolutionary biologist got people swapping ideas about our lingering vestigia.
  • Basically, this is the stuff that served some evolutionary purpose at some point, but now is kind of, well, extra.
  • Here are the six traits that inaugurated the fun.
Keep reading Show less

Why I wear my life on my skin

For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.

Top Video Splash
  • In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
  • This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and things that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
  • Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way.".