Where did our sense of curiosity come from?

My recent article for I-M on solar eclipses and the Fermi paradox is now available online. As Daniel C Dennett, a philosopher and cognitive scientist, has observed, searching for explanations is a central feature of our species. Where does our sense of curiosity come from? As an exercise in fun speculation, I propose it couldContinue reading “Where did our sense of curiosity come from?”

The pump of curiosity

The summer 2020 issue of I-M Intelligent Magazine… … includes “an exercise in fun speculation” by me on a potential link between solar eclipses and the Fermi paradox. According to the Copernican principle, there is nothing special about the earth’s place in the universe. Except for the awkward fact that — on current evidence —Continue reading “The pump of curiosity”

Ephemeral moments with two planets, the moon, and the sun

A little ephemeral moment will play out over the evenings of 21 and 22 May: the two innermost planets — Mercury and Venus — will be close together on the western horizon. Image: EarthSky Venus (which, as you may have noticed, has been spectacularly bright recently) will come into view about 20 minutes after sunset;Continue reading “Ephemeral moments with two planets, the moon, and the sun”

Can you solve this logical-thinking puzzle?

Image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute For anyone locked down and in need of some mental exercise, here’s a quick Japanese challenge. If you only speak English, the puzzle is impossible to solve. If, however, you speak Spanish — or one of a number of other languages, including French, Welsh or Hindi — it becomes an exerciseContinue reading “Can you solve this logical-thinking puzzle?”

The deeper purpose of education

The 2020 Annual National Convention of TESOL-SPAIN took place last week at the University of Salamanca. Image: Fernando Vázquez Yáñez/Creative Commons My personal highlight was a talk on “Positive Language Education” by Sarah Mercer, head of English Language Teaching at the University of Graz in Austria. She began by posing two questions that formed partContinue reading “The deeper purpose of education”