Kevin P. Hand: On the Coming Age of Ocean Exploration What makes ocean worlds like Jupiter’s moon Europa compelling places for astrobiology? Despite considerable evidence to the contrary, Earth was not a particularly good place for life to arise. The main ingredients for life as we know it are a lot easier to find farther out in the solar system. Felix Warneken: Children’s Helping Hands Several novel empirical findings suggest that human altruism has deeper roots than previously thought. William McEwan: Molecular Cut and Paste: The New Generation of Biological Tools A combination of cheap DNA synthesis, freely accessible databases, and our ever expanding knowledge of protein science is conspiring to permit a revolution in creating powerful molecular tools. Anthony Aguirre: Next Step: Infinity Infinity can violate our human intuition, which is based on finite systems, and create perplexing philosophical problems. Daniela Kaufer & Darlene Francis: Nurture, Nature, and the Stress That Is Life Why is it that when faced with the same challenges, some of us crumble, some of us survive, and some of us even thrive?
Jon Kleinberg: What Can Huge Data Sets Teach Us About Society and Ourselves? Vast digital trails of social interaction allow us to begin investigating questions that have been the subject of theoretical inquiry and small-scale analysis for a century or more. Coren Apicella: On the Universality of Attractiveness My quest to understand the natural origins of attractiveness preferences led me to the African savannah near Lake Eyasi in Tanzania. Laurie R. Santos: To Err Is Primate Why do house sellers, professional golfers, experienced investors, and the rest of us succumb to strategies that make us systematically go wrong? Samuel M. McClure: Our Brains Know Why We Do What We Do The goal of the new field of decision neuroscienceis a greatly improved understanding of the variability that dominates our moment-to-moment decision-making behavior. Jennifer Jacquet: Is Shame Necessary? Balancing group and self-interest has never been easy, yet human societies display a high level of cooperation. To attain that level, specialized traits had to evolve, including such emotions as shame. Kirsten Bomblies: Plant Immunity in a Changing World To what degree plant populations can adapt to novel disease pressures in an altered and increasingly unpredictable climate remains largely unknown. Asif A. Ghazanfar: The Emergence of Human Audiovisual Communication The basic patterns of neocortical anatomy that produce a set of fixed neural rhythms are conserved throughout the mammalian lineage, and they predate the elaboration of vocal repertoires. Naomi I. Eisenberger: Why Rejection Hurts The experience of social pain, while temporarily distressing and hurtful, is an evolutionary adaptation that promotes social bonding and, ultimately, survival.
Joshua Knobe: Finding the Mind in the Body People’s intuitions about whether a given entity has a mind do not appear to be based entirely on a scientific attempt to explain that entity’s behavior. Fiery Cushman: Should the Law Depend on Luck? How will advances in the science of moral judgment change the way we think about the law? Liane Young: How We Read People’s Moral Minds Recent work suggests that our moral judgment of another person depends on specific brain regions for reasoning about that other person’s mental state.
Daniel Haun: How Odd I Am! Cross-culturally, the human mind varies more than we generally assume. Joan Y. Chiao: Where Does Human Diversity Come From? Culture-gene coevolutionary theorydescribes a complementary process by which adaptive mechanisms in the human mind and brain evolved to facilitate social group living through both cultural and genetic selection.