The Ultimate Hipster Irony

The search among urbanites for that ideal “authentic” neighborhood, rife with rustic brownstones, a diverse, culturally robust population, artisans, galleries, vendors, mom-and-pop shops, and familiar pubs pulsating with local music, has not only become banal, it’s destroying the very “authenticity” being pursued. So confirms the research of Sharon Zukin, a professor of sociology at CUNY, who discusses her look into the history and effects of New York City’s pattern of gentrification in today’s Big Think interview.


The stream of hipsters (which, per the SoHo model, gradually turns to young professionals, then the occasional lawyer, then hedge-funders) “pioneering” new neighborhood with a more classic, chain-store-less urban feel harms the areas both by dramatically driving-up the cost of living and generating a new and oppressive ideal of taste.

As Zukin explains, the logic of gentrification is almost absurdly self-defeating, as the hunt for authenticity is inevitably followed up with lobbies for new zoning laws, and Starbucks, condos, IKEAs, and strangely hip sushi bars begin to pop up awkwardly alongside the newly formed monuments of counter-culture.

Zukin also outlines the historic pace of gentrification and why it has accelerated so dramatically since the 1980’s and provides a fascinating description of the social dynamics that have shaped the history of Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less

We are heading for a New Cretaceous, not for a new normal

The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.

Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA
Surprising Science

A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.

Keep reading Show less

New study reveals what time we burn the most calories

Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.

Photo: Victor Freitas / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
  • While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
  • Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
Keep reading Show less