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Do we inhabit a multiverse? Do we have free will? What is love? Is evolution directional? There are no simple answers to life’s biggest questions, and that’s why they’re the questions occupying the world’s brightest minds. Together, let's learn from them. Welcome to The Well, a publication by the John Templeton Foundation and Big Think.

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“Einstein actually, despite the word ‘relativity,’ adhered to a very strict absolute...

and that absolute was the speed of light. He took that to be his guiding constraint. And by sticking to it rigidly, he said, ‘I’ll give up anything else but the speed of light; the constancy of the speed of light.’ And by doing so, he gave up on the absolute nature of space and time. That’s just much harder to let go of, intuitively, and a much greater violation of our common sense, but it was right. And so this was an example where this tight constraint led to a creative outburst. 

A woman in a blue dress posing for a photo.
Janna Levin
Theoretical Astrophysicist, Barnard College

Featured Article

“Common wisdom says we have a self and that self is the source of our free will, but...

 the subject of the self is riddled with paradoxes. Because the mind has been categorized as something “nonphysical,” its definition alone places the self outside of physical cause-and-effect, and beyond the scope of science. However, as with many philosophical quandaries that involve the proposal of a thesis and the emergence of a counter-thesis (or antithesis, in the words of Hegel), a synthesis often emerges, reconciling seemingly disparate views into a more coherent and sensible perspective.”

a man in a suit and tie posing for a picture.
Bobby Azarian

When one path is blocked, a new one must be paved. How Einstein, Heisenberg and Gödel used constraints to make life-changing discoveries:
Does our perception exist beyond our senses? | Alva Noë
What is perception, really? Philosopher Alva Noë on why perception is a puzzling phenomenon:
How science is a social enterprise | George Musser
From friendships to fierce debates: Why scientists’ relationships matter in making great discoveries:
What wins fights–facts or emotions? | Tali Sharot
We’ve all tried to win an argument by bringing up statistics that support our view. But here’s why that doesn’t work, according to a neuroscientist.
As we begin our holiday break, we at The Well would like to wish you happy holidays, however you celebrate. Stay safe, stay warm, and stay full of wonder ✨…

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