Tag Archives: Scientific American

Looking for Interstellar Monuments – Scientific American

An ancient civilization from a distant star could have created immortal machines to roam the Milky Way and keep its legacy alive

By Avi Loeb on September 11, 2021

Credit: Getty Images

By now I have reached an age at which my birthdays can be thought of as a countdown to the inescapable end.

We live our life without knowing when that end will come. But acknowledging its inevitability encourages us to build monuments of our accomplishments that will outlast us.

Of course, our DNA can give us that sort of longevity through our children. But we often wish to add meaning to the world we leave behind that goes beyond our genetic code.

Source: Looking for Interstellar Monuments – Scientific American

What Structural Engineers Learned from 9/11 – Scientific American

By Donald Dusenberry, on September 8, 2021

Members of the profession study such tragic events to try and ensure that something similar won’t happen again

Credit: Donald Dusenberry


The events of 9/11 shook the world.

Before that day, we could not imagine that someone would be bold and cruel enough to enact such violence. We could not imagine that two iconic 110-story skyscrapers would collapse in the middle of a U.S. city, gouging and crushing other buildings for hundreds of feet in all directions.

We asked ourselves, “How could this possibly happen? How could they collapse?” These are natural questions that express the scope of the loss we felt on that day.

Structural engineers asked these questions, too, but they also asked the contrasting question: How did the World Trade Center towers manage to stand up to the attack at all, even for a short while? The damage was extensive. Commercial aircraft flying at nearly top speed crashed into the buildings, cutting wide swaths through the exterior walls and inflicting extensive interior damage. Shouldn’t that have been enough to cause immediate collapse?

Source: What Structural Engineers Learned from 9/11 – Scientific American

The Supreme Court’s Assault on Science – Scientific American

A recent decision that makes it easier to sentence children to life without parole ignores what we know about the prefrontal cortex

By Daniel Weinberger on May 24, 2021

Credit: Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Jones v. Mississippi makes it easier for judges to sentence children to life in prison with no chance of parole.

After 15 years of decisions that placed limits on the sentences given to juvenile offenders convicted of violent crimes, the Court reversed course in a profoundly antiscience decision written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The murderer in this case had just turned 15. This new ruling claims that the early teen years cast the die for how someone is likely to behave for the rest of their lives.

When criticizing this decision, legal pundits have been entranced by stare decisis, the legal doctrine that states a court will abide by precedent. But this argument woefully ignores the neuroscience that explains why juveniles should not be treated like adults—the very scientific evidence that influenced and guided previous court decisions

Source: The Supreme Court’s Assault on Science – Scientific American