What is the speed of dark?

Most of us already know that darkness is the absence of light, and that light travels at the fastest speed possible for a physical object. In short, this means that, the moment that light leaves, darkness returns. In this respect, darkness has the same speed as light. However, in some instances, darkness actually moves faster than light.


Nancy Kanwisher: A neural portrait of the human mind

Brain imaging pioneer Nancy Kanwisher, who uses fMRI scans to see activity in brain regions (often her own), shares what she and her colleagues have learned: The brain is made up of both highly specialized components and general-purpose “machinery.” Another surprise: There’s so much left to learn.

Hans Rosling

How not to be ignorant about the world

How much do you know about the world? Hans Rosling, with his famous charts of global population, health and income data (and an extra-extra-long pointer), demonstrates that you have a high statistical chance of being quite wrong about what you think you know. Play along with his audience quiz — then, from Hans’ son Ola, learn four ways to quickly get less ignorant.


The Coolest Music in the World

A group of Russian percussionists, Ethnobeat Irkusk, have become an internet hit with an exhibition of ice drumming on frozen Lake Baikal. In minus 20°C, they found by pure chance that the one metre thick ice has a distinctive and haunting rhythm all of its own.

Randall Munroe

What if…?

Web cartoonist Randall Munroe answers simple what-if questions (“what if you hit a baseball moving at the speed of light?”) using math, physics, logic and deadpan humor. In this charming talk, a reader’s question about Google’s data warehouse leads Munroe down a circuitous path to a hilariously over-detailed answer — in which, shhh, you might…