Weekend Links: Science Behind Static Electricity, Genetically Engineering Spicy Tomatoes and More

Welcome to Weekend Links, a collection of fascinating science stories from across the web, curated by your science-loving friends at the Mass General Research Institute.

There Is No Such Thing as Conscious Thought

Steve Ayan writing for Scientific American

Philosopher Peter Carruthers insists that conscious thought, judgment and volition are illusions. They arise from processes of which we are forever unaware.


If You Feel Thankful, Write It Down. It’s Good For Your Health

Maanvi Singh writing for NPR

There’s a growing body of research on the benefits of gratitude. Studies have found that giving thanks and counting blessings can help people sleep better, lower stress and improve interpersonal relationships.


Why Scientists Want to Engineer Spicy Tomatoes

Brigit Katz writing for Smithsonian

If you were asked to describe a tomato, words like “juicy,” “acidic” and maybe even “sweet” might pop into your mind. “Spicy” is not on the list of adjectives commonly attributed to this yummy fruit (and yes, it is a fruit), but that may one day change.


Intellectual Humility: The Importance of Knowing You Might Be Wrong

Brian Resnick writing for Vox

For the past few months, I’ve been talking to many scholars about intellectual humility, the characteristic that allows for admission of wrongness. I’ve come to appreciate what a crucial tool it is for learning, especially in an increasingly interconnected and complicated world.


Where Static Electricity Comes From and How It Works

Sebastian Deffner writing for Discover

The dry winter months are high season for an annoying downside of static electricity – electric discharges like tiny lightning zaps whenever you touch door knobs or warm blankets fresh from the clothes dryer.


What a Newfound Kingdom Means for the Tree of Life

Jonathan Lambert writing for Quanta Magazine

Researchers recently found a certain rare and mysterious microbe called a hemimastigote in a clump of Nova Scotian soil. Their subsequent analysis of its DNA revealed that it was neither animal, plant, fungus nor any recognized type of protozoan—that it in fact fell far outside any of the known large categories for classifying complex forms of life (eukaryotes).


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