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Pam Weintraub

Senior Editor, Aeon+Psyche

Pam is an editor and writer specialising in psychology, neuroscience and the sciences. She has previously worked as executive and features editor at Discover, where her acquisitions were widely anthologised and received numerous national awards; a consulting editor at Psychology Today; and in a range of roles at Omni magazine, from senior editor and editor-at-large to founding editor of Omni online. She is author of 16 books on medicine, psychology and lifestyle, including Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic, which won the American Medical Writers Association book award in 2009. She can be found on Twitter @pam3001.

Written by Pam Weintraub

Edited by Pam Weintraub

The pharaoh’s trumpet | Aeon
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Archaeology

The pharaoh’s trumpet

The truly wondrous treasures of Tutankhamun’s tomb are not made of gold. They are the mundane things of everyday life

Toby Wilkinson

Where God dwelt | Aeon
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History of science

Where God dwelt

For hundreds of years, Christians knew exactly where heaven was: above us and above the stars. Then came the new cosmologists

Stephen Case

Wanderlust of the ancients | Aeon
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The ancient world

Wanderlust of the ancients

The Roman Empire enabled an early version of globalisation that offered travellers adventure, novelty and opportunity

Fabio Fernandes

Cogitating black holes | Aeon
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Cosmology

Cogitating black holes

The Universe cannot always be understood through observation. Instead, physicists explore by devising thought experiments

Michael Dine

A dinosaur is a story | Aeon
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Palaeontology

A dinosaur is a story

As Brontosaurus tells us, in science as in fiction, the stories we tell to understand the world are always being revised

Nathaniel Goldberg & Chris Gavaler

Tomorrow’s corals | Aeon
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Oceans and water

Tomorrow’s corals

A warming planet and acid oceans will radically transform marine ecosystems. How will our beloved reefs survive?

Klaus M Stiefel & James D Reimer

Telescopes on the Moon | Aeon
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Space exploration

Telescopes on the Moon

Our future in space relies on settling the Moon and using it as a base to probe the deepest questions in the cosmos

Joseph Silk

Seeing and somethingness | Aeon
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Consciousness and altered states

Seeing and somethingness

An evolutionary approach to consciousness can resolve the ‘hard problem’ – with radical implications for animal sentience

Nicholas Humphrey

Happy the person | Aeon
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Animals and humans

Happy the person

She has deep emotions, complex social needs and a large, elephant brain. Her legal personhood should be recognised too

Lori Marino

Collective wrongs | Aeon
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Ethics

Collective wrongs

Even when individual perpetrators and victims are dead, states and institutions have a responsibility to make restitutions

Joshua Stein

Are they the canaries? | Aeon
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Illness and disease

Are they the canaries?

People with multiple chemical sensitivity seem to be allergic to the world. What, if anything, can medicine do for them?

Xi Chen

Dark horses in the cosmos | Aeon
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Cosmology

Dark horses in the cosmos

Could primordial black holes from the beginning of time explain ‘dark matter’, the mysterious missing mass in the Universe?

Briley Lewis



Recent Comments

In praise of defiance

Pam Weintraub

At the risk of sounding a contrarian note here, I say: There must be a difference between the justifiably defiant, wrongly diagnosed, and the actual pathology of random defiance. It is just that psychiatrists have been unable to find the line when culture and society weigh in.

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Suspended animation

Pam Weintraub

Unless this is a trick question, like: You’re immortal but you’re in pain, or… you’re immortal but you’re insane, of course… If I could live in health and vigor without worry of death, why wouldn’t I? I don’t think I would ever get tired of being alive or creative… it is a terrible punishment that at some point it will go dark and I won’t know what happens to the world.

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Humans are the only animals who crave oblivion through suicide

Pam Weintraub

The author is speaking here about the evolutionary origins of suicide, mostly. And of the effect that suicide had on hunter-gather size groups during our early evolution -and how our awareness of death changed the equation vis a vis suicide for the human species. This story is not mean to cast aspersions on those who take their lives here and now -it is looking at suicide through the lens of evolutionary biology, in a most theoretical way.

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Murder she wrought

Pam Weintraub

Until neuroscience hands us the technology or capacity to squelch the reptiles in our brains with the cortex above, we will be a violent species, in part. Until we can overcome the fear from our limbic brains with logic from the cortex, we’ll react in kind. The territorial instinct has defined the human species from its emergence on Earth, and the constant wars, genocides, terrorist acts and other atrocities still raging around the globe, glaringly and without end are testament to that fact.

Do we have the capacity to end all wars? Possibly -at what cost? Might the cost be a police state, violent in its own right? And eliminating state violence or even community violence might not ...

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Are coders worth it?

Pam Weintraub

Coding is a form of math and logic, and it should be part of a mathematical curriculum. It could be that we all need to be literate in coding to navigate the new world. Not only because it is a funcitonal skill, but also because it trains us in logic and memory and detail, and focus -and these are cognitive skills of high value.

Coding is a skill of the future. It is our passport to deep understanding of the undercurrents of the new, data-driven world.

To suggest, however, that we should study this new, mathematical language as we studied the languages of antiquity more than a century ago mixes apples and oranges -it is almost a nonsense question. Were we studying Latin and ...

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The sorrow of bees

Pam Weintraub

To set the record straight, the study of animal emotion is not that new, relatively speaking. Perhaps the preeminent modern pioneer in the animal emotion from a neuroscientific perspective is Jaak Panksepp, known broadly as the researcher who tickled rats and made them laugh.

Studying the emotional brain in a range of animal species since the 1960s, Panksepp has charted seven networks of emotion in the brain: SEEKING, RAGE, FEAR, LUST, CARE, PANIC/GRIEF, and PLAY. I spell them with CAPS here because that is what Panksepp does -so fundamental are they to functions across species, from people to cats to rats.

What is especially interesting about Panksepp’s work is that it has ...

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How much does it matter whether God exists?

Pam Weintraub

I feel that I have greater knowledge right away about someone who grew up as a relatively secular Ashkenazi Jew from New York City -that is, a Jew whose ancestors lived in Northern, Western and Eastern Europe for centuries, then moved to New York City, where they retained identity but not great religiosity.

My recent trip to Israel showed me, on the other hand, that Jews have wide diversity -from Sephardic Jews with ancestors from Spain; Jews whose ancestors never left the area of the Judean Hills in Israel or the Middle East -the Mizrahi Jews. I met Jews with ancestors from India, and they looked Indian. Jews from Ethiopia who were black. Moroccan Jews… There are very orthodox Jew...

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Riding the wind

Pam Weintraub

I feel haunted and buffeted by the sounds of winds blowing through the tunnels formed by the buildings here in Brooklyn. I live up on the 7th floor, and the winds sound ferocious and terrifying sometimes when a storm or even just weather kicks on -down on the street, it’s never that bad, but up here, it’s raucous and tremendous and roiling -wow.

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Cracking the skull open

Pam Weintraub

One might argue that complete mental health is, in fact, a state of extreme insanity -and that one person’s craziness is another’s sublime balance. Clearly, some states are dysfunctional and sick: psychotic homicidal impulses; extreme bipolar swings of devastating depression and destructive mania; voices instructing one to harm oneself; the crippling pain of chronic, severe depression. These are states of sickness, not least because they cause the percipient so much pain and/or endanger others.

But other times, the border between health and illness is in the eye of the beholder: The wholesome, well-scrubbed, straight A student with the constant up mood can be flat and boring. The m...

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Korean Thanksgiving

Pam Weintraub

A generation ago, when many people lived into their seventies or eighties and then died, the level of help and care a parent required on an existential level was relatively small. Those elderly could largely care for themselves and they were just newly tapping into their retirement savings, and so able to pay for help. Moreover, the elderly of a generation ago -who were, by and large- younger at time of death, often were able to live at home. Thus, a child could defer from helping a parent and, no matter the moral issues or emotional hurt, not feel they were putting that parent at existential risk. A child could visit an 80-year-old person every weekend, and that eighty year-old would oth...

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Neurothriller

Pam Weintraub

There is something to be said for feelings and emotions accumulating viscerally, in an embodied kind of way apart from narrative. One feels that layering this alongside or on top of narrative would be the most powerful means -why would you need to forget the narrative? They are all means of immersion, but certainly, adding these elements only adds to the power and the fear. Though… I found Carrie, the Birds, Psycho, Alien, all of those, pretty terrifying -even when I say them as old films.... already dated at my viewing, they still managed to scare.

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Symmetry is crucial to biology: a Q & A with Robert Trivers

Pam Weintraub

Symmetry can be boring -In fact,when things are too symmetrical, too even, my eyes glaze over and I enter a state of ennui. I find the symmetrical in art, often, to be flat and unchallenging. In my rooms, symmetry makes me feel blank. One place I have loved symmetry is organic chemistry, where it was truly beautiful because it was also complex. Simple flat symmetry, however, is dull.

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