Adam Frank

The stars can save you: If you can really see them in all their beauty and mystery, they can lift you up and give you solace in even the worst times.

As you read these words the world around you seems pretty solid, pretty stable: The device you're using seems to exist on its own, with its own properties of shape and weight and color. So does the chair you're sitting in, the table your coffee cup is resting on and the coffee cup itself.

But that solidity and independence is a kind illusion or, at least, so says the very physics that lets these words appear on the screen of your computer, smart phone or tablet.

For most of human existence, things didn't change much within a single lifetime.

If you lived a thousand years ago, the tools you used were probably the same ones as your great grandparents. And other than big events like a volcano, the physical world didn't change much either.

What is the difference between a city and a wetland? How about a factory and a forest? What separates the environments that "nature" builds and the ones we humans build?

While this might have been an abstract question for philosophers at one point, it's not anymore. Decades into what is appropriately called "the climate crisis," humans are now facing down a planet that has been profoundly changed by our collective activities. In our struggle to find a response, and hopefully save ourselves, the relationship between humans and nature is being reconstructed.

Everything I needed to know for Junior High School I learned from cartoons.

Twice a day, before and after school, my local TV station delivered three Warner Brothers Looney Tunes shorts. There, Bugs Bunny gave me master classes in the Brooklyn-accented snark and wise-cracking I aspired to. While my teachers might not have appreciated what I was learning, those dazzling 10-minute comedy masterpieces were also my introduction to what happens at the intersection of animation and excellence.

If you were looking for a good reason to escape reality, the last six weeks of global COVID meltdown definitely fit the bill. And while pretending your dog is a sports hero or your family a famous work of art work for some, for many people only video games offer the much needed ticket out of their heads.

In 2018, Marvel Studios released Black Panther. The film grossed 1.3 billion dollars and was nominated for 7 Oscars including Best Picture (a first time for a superhero film).

Everyone knows we live in a partisan age. It's hard to find any issue these days that people aren't ready to square off on, with sharp, snarky barbs.

While no one will be surprised to find these kinds of arguments playing out about immigration or the importance of NATO, finding it among staid physicists — and about the nature of physical reality — might not be so expected. But all too often over the last 100 years, this has been the case, as scientists have disagreed sharply over the meaning of their greatest and most potent theory known as quantum mechanics.

We've been talking to robots for a while now.

In the decade or so since Siri and her compatriots first appeared, we've all gotten pretty used to having conversations with computers in various forms. While your Alexa doesn't look much like a Cylon (the scary metal kind or hotty flesh kind) now, it seems like it's just a matter of time of time before we'll be talking with all kinds of robots — including those that look just like us.

The countdown has begun. It's T-minus a month or so until the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 — and humanity's first and famous steps on another world.

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