Boltzmann Brains, Scottish Independence, Religion & Violence, Old Age, Supernatural Food

Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

Dreaming The Dream

Marianne Freiberger | +Plus | 24th September 2014

"Imagine you're an isolated brain floating lonely through the vast expanse of the Universe with all your thoughts, memories and perceptions just figments of your imagination. That's a depressing thought, but not a new one. There'd even be a name for you: you'd be a Boltzmann brain." If you recognise yourself in that description — and which of us does not? — you may find this short discussion useful, if not especially reassuring (820 words)

Scottish No Vote Makes Independence More Likely

John Kay | 24th September 2014

The 55-45 referendum split is evidence of an issue not nearly settled. More devolution won't help: the powers that could usefully be devolved to Scotland were transferred in 1997. The constraint on the current Scottish government is not lack of power, but lack of money. Scottish voters don't want different policies, but more generous ones. "Scottish nationalists lost a battle. But the outcome makes it very likely they have won their war" (636 words)

Everything Poisons Religion

Ferdinand Mount | Spectator | 20th September 2014

Why do religion and war so often seem to go together? Because states "weaponise" religion to achieve political ends, argues Karen Armstrong in her "superb" new book, Fields Of Blood. "The sad truth is that religions are corrupted by success. The more popular they become, the closer they are drawn into the ambit of state power, the more their practice and doctrine have to be remodelled to suit their new overlords" (1,800 words)

How Long Should We Hope To Live?

Tyler Cowen | Marginal Revolution | 24th September 2014

A response to Ezekiel Emanuel, the American bioethicist who said he wanted to die at 75. I did not recommend Emanuel's original piece — here it is ( — because I thought it too glib. Tyler Cowen's much shorter discussion has considerably more useful thought embedded in it. "The value of an individual life is to be sure somewhat ineffable, but for that same reason it is difficult for a life to lose so much of its value" (680 words)

The Future Of Food Is Data

Cade Metz | Wired | 19th September 2014

Hampton Creek is working to "catalog the behavior of practically every plant protein on earth", with the aim of producing familiar foods more efficiently from natural ingredients. "Mixing and matching proteins found in the world’s plants, the tiny startup already has created a reasonable facsimile of the chicken egg that's cheaper, safer, and possibly healthier than the real thing". Next step: entirely new foods (1,840 words)

Video of the day: The Blue Umbrella

What to expect: Pixar short. Adventures of an umbrella on a windy day (6'46")

Thought for the day

The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution
Bertrand Russell (

A Talk in London

Come and see Browser favourites Felix Salmon (ex-Reuters) and Izabella Kaminska (FT) discuss art, 3D printing and Bitcoin on September 24th. Admission is £5, and includes a glass of wine (or two). Tickets are available here ( .

Follow on Twitter (*|TWITTER:PROFILEURL [$format=text]|*) ** Forward to Friend (*|FORWARD|*)

Join 150,000+ curious readers who grow with us every day

No spam. No nonsense. Unsubscribe anytime.

Great! Check your inbox and click the link to confirm your subscription
Please enter a valid email address!
You've successfully subscribed to The Browser
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in
Could not sign in! Login link expired. Click here to retry
Cookies must be enabled in your browser to sign in