Ideas / Theory

Emotion’s Alchemy

Feature / by Genevieve Wanucha / March 30, 2010

New insights into the science of emotion unravel the seeming neurological magic that turns emotions into social expressions.

Now In Theory

  • This is Your Brain on Food

    The foods you eat often affect how your neurons behave and, subsequently, how you think and feel. From your brain’s perspective, food is a drug.

  • The Asymmetry of Life

    Look into a mirror and you’ll simultaneously see the familiar and the alien: an image of you, but with left and right reversed.

  • The Body Politic

    The deep symbiosis between bacteria and their human hosts is forcing scientists to ask: Are we organisms or living ecosystems?

  • The Evolution of Cooperation

    Insects that survive on plant sap alone offer insights into the likely origin and evolution of all multicellular life.

  • Symbols from the Sky

    Heavenly messages from the depths of prehistory may be encoded on the walls of caves throughout Europe.

  • Slippery Cellularities

    Synthetic biology can mean reconstructing organisms, redesigning biology, or recreating life—and each of these uses has different implications.

  • The Meaning of Life

    Last week, biologist J. Craig Venter crossed a momentous threshold—creating a living organism with no ancestor. In 2007, Carl Zimmer gave Seed this provocative look at the difficulties inherent in defining "life."

  • Random Reality

    Author and astronomer Marcus Chown on the early history of the universe, quantum reality, and the origins of information.

  • We Are Not Alone

    In his new book, astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch says that extraterrestrial life has already been found.

  • In Search of the Tiniest Quantity

    The director of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory talks about his experience of turning the ice cap at the South Pole into the world's largest dark matter detector.


Buddhism and the Brain

Many of Buddhism’s core tenets significantly overlap with findings from modern neurology and neuroscience. So how did Buddhism come close to getting the brain right?


The Improvisational Brain

Watching a musician in the throes of an improvisational solo can be like witnessing an act of divine intervention. But embedded memories and conspiring brain regions, scientists now believe, are the true source of ad-hoc creativity.

From the Studio

Seed Salon: Paola Antonelli + Benoit Mandelbrot

In 2008, the late mathematician and founder of fractal geometry, Benoit Mandelbrot, met MoMA's senior design curator, Paola Antonelli for a conversation about geometry, architecture, and nature. Here are excerpts from their discussion.


Divided Minds, Specious Souls

The experience of a unified mind and the possibility of an everlasting soul are connected. And there is scant evidence to support the existence of either.

Now on

  • Ideas

    I Tried Almost Everything Else

    John Rinn, snowboarder, skateboarder, and “genomic origamist,” on why we should dumpster-dive in our genomes and the inspiration of a middle-distance runner.

  • Ideas

    Going, Going, Gone

    The second most common element in the universe is increasingly rare on Earth—except, for now, in America.

  • Ideas

    Earth-like Planets Aren’t Rare

    Renowned planetary scientist James Kasting on the odds of finding another Earth-like planet and the power of science fiction.

The Seed Salon

Video: conversations with leading scientists and thinkers on fundamental issues and ideas at the edge of science and culture.

Are We Beyond the Two Cultures?

Video: Seed revisits the questions C.P. Snow raised about science and the humanities 50 years by asking six great thinkers, Where are we now?

Saved by Science

Audio slideshow: Justine Cooper's large-format photographs of the collections behind the walls of the American Museum of Natural History.

The Universe in 2009

In 2009, we are celebrating curiosity and creativity with a dynamic look at the very best ideas that give us reason for optimism.

Revolutionary Minds
The Interpreters

In this installment of Revolutionary Minds, five people who use the new tools of science to educate, illuminate, and engage.

The Seed Design Series

Leading scientists, designers, and architects on ideas like the personal genome, brain visualization, generative architecture, and collective design.

The Seed State of Science

Seed examines the radical changes within science itself by assessing the evolving role of scientists and the shifting dimensions of scientific practice.

A Place for Science

On the trail of the haunts, homes, and posts of knowledge, from the laboratory to the field.


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