Voltaire's Take on Capital Punishment

"Let the punishments of criminals be useful. A hanged man is good for nothing; a man condemned to public works still serves the country, and is a living lesson."

François-Marie Arouet, a.k.a. Voltaire (1694-1778) was a French Enlightenment writer and philosopher famous for his many witty works of satire. Voltaire was a major advocate of the garden-variety Enlightenment ideals: freedom of religion, separation of church and state, and freedom of expression. The Catholic Church was a frequent target of his writing, as well as other sources of what he perceived to be intolerance, unfettered dogma, and overall French stuffiness. Among his most famous works are the polemic satire Candide and his 1764 Dictionnaire philosophique.


"Let the punishments of criminals be useful. A hanged man is good for nothing; a man condemned to public works still serves the country, and is a living lesson."

 From "Civil and Ecclesiastical Laws," Dictionnaire philosophique (1785-1789)(h/t Wikiquote)

Opioids not much better than placebos at treating pain, study says

Alternative treatments are often better for noncancer pain, the study found.

Surprising Science
  • The study examined more than 26,000 people experiencing chronic pain.
  • Opioids were only marginally better than placebos at treating pain and improving physical functioning.
  • It's estimated that at least 2 million Americans have opioid use problems.
Keep reading Show less

Iceland is officially worshiping Norse Gods again

For the first time since the Vikings sailed, the Icelandic public will soon be able to worship classical Norse gods like Odin, Thor, and Frigg at a public temple built in their honor.

popular

For the first time since the Vikings sailed, the Icelandic public are worshiping classical Norse gods like Odin, Thor, and Frigg at a public temple built in their honor. "The worship of Odin, Thor, Freya and the other gods of the old Norse pantheon became an officially recognized religion exactly 973 years after Iceland’s official conversion to Christianity."

Keep reading Show less

Sound could replace lasers in surgery

Moving from HOT to HAT, a dazzling new acoustic technology.

(Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)
Technology & Innovation
  • Scientists announce the ability to simultaneously manipulate individual levitated objects.
  • Using high-frequency sound waves may provide a safer alternative to laser microsurgery.
  • Video of the research looks like a cartoon, but it's all real.
Keep reading Show less