Explore the Surface of Mars in Spectacular 4K Resolution


Could you use a men­tal escape? Maybe a trip to Mars will do the trick. Above, you can find high def­i­n­i­tion footage cap­tured by NASA’s three Mars rovers–Spirit, Oppor­tu­ni­ty and Curios­i­ty. The footage (also con­tributed by JPL-Cal­techMSSSCor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty and ASU) was stitched togeth­er by Elder­Fox Doc­u­men­taries, cre­at­ing what they call the most life­like expe­ri­ence of being on Mars. Adding more con­text, Elder Fox notes:

The footage, cap­tured direct­ly by NASA’s Mars rovers — Spir­it, Oppor­tu­ni­ty, Curios­i­ty, and Per­se­ver­ance — unveils the red plan­et’s intri­cate details. These rovers, act­ing as robot­ic geol­o­gists, have tra­versed var­ied ter­rains, from ancient lake beds to tow­er­ing moun­tains, uncov­er­ing Mars’ com­plex geo­log­i­cal his­to­ry.

As view­ers enjoy these images, they will notice infor­mal place names assigned by NASA’s team, pro­vid­ing con­text to the Mar­t­ian fea­tures observed. Each rover’s unique jour­ney is high­light­ed, show­cas­ing their con­tri­bu­tions to Mar­t­ian explo­ration.

Safe trav­els.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Behold Col­or­ful Geo­log­ic Maps of Mars Released by The Unit­ed States Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey

Carl Sagan Presents Six Lec­tures on Earth, Mars & Our Solar Sys­tem … For Kids (1977)

NASA Releas­es a Mas­sive Online Archive: 140,000 Pho­tos, Videos & Audio Files Free to Search and Down­load

Hear the Very First Sounds Ever Record­ed on Mars, Cour­tesy of NASA

Pangea to the Present to the Future: Watch Animations Showing 500 Million Years of Continental Drift

Things change…

Espe­cial­ly when you’re track­ing the con­ti­nen­tal move­ment from Pangea to the present day in 5 mil­lion years incre­ments at the rate of 2.5 mil­lion years per sec­ond.

Wher­ev­er you are, 350 mil­lion years ago, your address would’ve been locat­ed on the mega-con­ti­nent of Pangea.

Here’s a map of what things looked like back then.

Those who’ve grown a bit fuzzy on their geog­ra­phy may require some indi­ca­tions of where future land­mass­es formed when Pangea broke apart. Your map apps can’t help you here.

The first split occurred in the mid­dle of the Juras­sic peri­od, result­ing in two hemi­spheres, Laura­sia to the north and Gond­wana.

As the project’s sto­ry map notes, 175 mil­lion years ago Africa and South Amer­i­ca already bore a resem­blance to their mod­ern day con­fig­u­ra­tions.

North Amer­i­ca, Asia, and Europe need­ed to stay in the oven a bit longer, their famil­iar shapes begin­ning to emerge between 150 and 120 mil­lion years ago.

India peeled off from its “moth­er” con­ti­nent of Gond­wana some 100 mil­lion years ago.

Its tec­ton­ic plate col­lid­ed with the Eurasian Plate, giv­ing rise to the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau, by which point, dinosaurs had been extinct for about 15 mil­lion years…)

Geog­ra­phy nerds may chafe at the seem­ing­ly inac­cu­rate sizes of Green­land, Antarc­ti­ca and Aus­tralia. Rest assured that the map­mak­ers are aware, chalk­ing it to the “dis­tor­tion of the car­to­graph­ic pro­jec­tion that exag­ger­ates areas close to the Poles.”

Just for fun, let’s run it back­wards!

But enough of the past. What of the future?

Those who real­ly want to know could jump ahead to the end of the sto­ry map to see PALEOMAP Project founder Christo­pher Scotese’s spec­u­la­tive con­fig­u­ra­tion of earth 250 mil­lion years hence, should cur­rent tec­ton­ic plate motion trends con­tin­ue.

Behold his vision of mega-con­ti­nent, Pangea Prox­i­ma, a land­mass “formed from all cur­rent con­ti­nents, with an appar­ent excep­tion of New Zealand, which remains a bit on the side:”

On the oppo­site side of the world, North Amer­i­ca is try­ing to fit to Africa, but it seems like it does not have the right shape. It will prob­a­bly need more time…

Not to bum you out, but a more recent study paints a grim­mer pic­ture of a com­ing super­con­ti­nent, Pangea Ulti­ma, when extreme tem­per­a­tures have ren­dered just 8 per­cent of Earth’s sur­face hos­pitable to mam­mals, should they sur­vive at all.

As the study’s co-author, cli­ma­tol­o­gist Alexan­der Farnsworth, told Nature News, humans might do well to get “off this plan­et and find some­where more hab­it­able.”

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Map Show­ing Where Today’s Coun­tries Would Be Locat­ed on Pangea

Find the Address of Your Home on Pan­gaea: Open Source Project Lets You Explore the Ancient Land Mass­es of Our Plan­et

Paper Ani­ma­tion Tells Curi­ous Sto­ry of How a Mete­o­rol­o­gist The­o­rized Pan­gaea & Con­ti­nen­tal Drift (1910)

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

The Cool Science of Snowflakes in 4 Minutes, with Brian Cox


From the Roy­al Soci­ety comes a short primer on snowflakes. Nar­rat­ed by physi­cist Bri­an Cox, the video explains how they form, and why no two snowflakes have the exact same dimen­sions. It also recounts how Johannes Kepler devel­oped a ground­break­ing the­o­ry about the hexag­o­nal shape of snowflakes in 1611–one proved right 400 years lat­er. And then comes the kick­er: snowflakes aren’t actu­al­ly white; they’re clear.

Along the way, Cox ref­er­ences the first pho­tographs of snowflakes. You can find our post on those 1885 pho­tographs here.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

via Aeon

Relat­ed Con­tent 

The First Pho­tographs of Snowflakes: Dis­cov­er the Ground­break­ing Micropho­tog­ra­phy of Wil­son “Snowflake” Bent­ley (1885)

Johannes Kepler The­o­rized That Each Plan­et Sings a Song, Each in a Dif­fer­ent Voice: Mars is a Tenor; Mer­cury, a Sopra­no; and Earth, an Alto

Prof. Bri­an Cox Has a Mad­den­ing Con­ver­sa­tion with a Cli­mate Sci­ence-Deny­ing Politi­cian

The Incubator Babies of Coney Island: How an Early 1900s Boardwalk Attraction Saved Thousands of Premature Babies Lives

Step right up, folks!

Shoot the Chutes!

Thrill to the Fire and Flames show!

Ride an ele­phant!

See the Beard­ed Lady!

Ear­ly in the 20th cen­tu­ry, crowds flocked to New York City’s Coney Island, where won­ders await­ed at every turn.

In 1902, the Brook­lyn Dai­ly Eagle pub­lished a few of the high­lights in store for vis­i­tors at Coney Island’s soon-to-open “elec­tric Eden,” Luna Park:

…the most impor­tant will be an illus­tra­tion of Jules Verne’s ‘Twen­ty Thou­sand Leagues Under the Sea’, which will cov­er 55,000 square feet of ground, and a naval spec­ta­to­ri­um, which will have a water area of 60,000 square feet. Beside these we will have many nov­el­ties, includ­ing the Riv­er Styx, the Whirl of the Town, Shoot­ing the White Horse Rapids, the Grand Canyon, the ’49 Min­ing Camp, Drag­on Rouge, over­land and incline rail­ways, Japan­ese, Philip­pine, Irish, Eski­mo and Ger­man vil­lages, the infant incu­ba­tor, water show and car­ni­val, cir­cus and hip­po­drome, Yel­low­stone Park, zoo­log­i­cal gar­dens, per­form­ing wild beasts, sea lions and seals, caves of Capri, the Flori­da Ever­glades and Mont Pelee, an elec­tric rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the vol­canic destruc­tion of St. Pierre.

Hold up a sec…what’s this about an infant incu­ba­tor? What kind of name is that for a roller coast­er!?

As it turns out, amid all the exot­i­ca and bedaz­zle­ments, a build­ing fur­nished with steel and glass cribs, heat­ed from below by tem­per­a­ture-con­trolled hot water pipes, was one of the boardwalk’s lead­ing attrac­tions.

Anti­sep­tic-soaked wool act­ed as a rudi­men­ta­ry air fil­ter, while an exhaust fan kept things prop­er­ly ven­ti­lat­ed.

The real draw were the pre­ma­ture babies who inhab­it­ed these cribs every sum­mer, tend­ed to round the clock by a capa­ble staff of white clad nurs­es, wet nurs­es and Dr. Mar­tin Couney, the man who had the ideas to put these tiny new­borns on display…and in so doing, saved thou­sands of lives.

Couney, a breast feed­ing advo­cate who once appren­ticed under the founder of mod­ern peri­na­tal med­i­cine, obste­tri­cian Pierre-Con­stant Budin, had no license to prac­tice.

Nor did he have an md.

Ini­tial­ly paint­ed as a child-exploit­ing char­la­tan by many in the med­ical com­mu­ni­ty, he was as vague about his back­ground as he was pas­sion­ate about his advo­ca­cy for pre­emies whose sur­vival depend­ed on robust inter­ven­tion.

Hav­ing pre­sent­ed Bud­in’s Kinder­bru­tanstalt — child hatch­ery —  to spec­ta­tors at 1896’s Great Indus­tri­al Expo­si­tion of Berlin, and anoth­er infant incu­ba­tor show as part of Queen Vic­to­ria Dia­mond Jubilee Cel­e­bra­tion, he knew first­hand the pub­lic’s capac­i­ty to become invest­ed in the pre­emies’ wel­fare, despite a gen­er­al lack of inter­est on the part of the Amer­i­can med­ical estab­lish­ment.

Thus­ly was the idea for the board­walk Infan­to­ri­ums hatched.

Claire Pren­tice, author of Mir­a­cle at Coney Island: How a Sideshow Doc­tor Saved Thou­sands of Babies and Trans­formed Amer­i­can Med­i­cine, writes that “many doc­tors at the time held the view that pre­ma­ture babies were genet­i­cal­ly infe­ri­or ‘weak­lings’ whose fate was a mat­ter for God.”

As word of Couney’s Infan­to­ri­um spread, par­ents brought their pre­ma­ture new­borns to Coney Island, know­ing that their chances of find­ing a life­sav­ing incu­ba­tor there was far greater than it would be in the hos­pi­tal. And the care there would be both high­ly skilled and free, under­writ­ten by pay­ing spec­ta­tors who observed the oper­a­tion through a glass win­dow. Pren­tice notes that “Couney took in babies from all back­grounds, regard­less of race or social class:”

… a remark­ably pro­gres­sive pol­i­cy, espe­cial­ly when he start­ed out. He did not take a pen­ny from the par­ents of the babies. In 1903 it cost around $15 (equiv­a­lent to around $405 today) a day to care for each baby; Couney cov­ered all the costs through the entrance fees.

The New York­er’s A. J. Liebling observed Couney at the 1939 World’s Fair in Flush­ing, Queens, where he had set up in a pink-and-blue build­ing that beck­oned vis­i­tors with a sign declar­ing “All the World Loves a Baby:”

The back­bone of Dr. Couney’s busi­ness is sup­plied by the repeaters. A repeater becomes inter­est­ed in one baby and returns at inter­vals of a week or less to note its growth. Repeaters attend more assid­u­ous­ly than most of the patients’ par­ents, even though the par­ents get in on pass­es. After a pre­emie grad­u­ates, a chron­ic repeater picks out anoth­er one and starts watch­ing it. Dr. Couney’s prize repeater, a Coney Island woman named Cas­satt, vis­it­ed his exhib­it there once a week for thir­ty-six sea­sons. Repeaters, as one might expect, are often child­less mar­ried peo­ple, but just as often they are inter­est­ed in babies because they have so many chil­dren of their own. “It works both ways,” says Dr. Couney, with qui­et plea­sure.

It’s esti­mat­ed that Couney’s incu­ba­tors spared the lives of more than 6,500 pre­ma­ture babies in the Unit­ed States, Lon­don, Paris, Mex­i­co and Brazil.

Despite his lack of bonafides, a num­ber of pedi­a­tri­cians who toured Couney’s infan­to­ri­ums were impressed by what they saw, and began refer­ring patients whose fam­i­lies could not afford to pay for med­ical care. Many, as Liebling report­ed in 1939, wished his board­walk attrac­tion could stay open year round, “for the ben­e­fit of win­ter pre­emies:”

In the ear­ly years of the cen­tu­ry no Amer­i­can hos­pi­tal had good facil­i­ties for han­dling pre­ma­tures, and there is no doubt that every win­ter many babies whom Dr. Couney could have saved died. Even today it is dif­fi­cult to get ade­quate care for pre­ma­ture infants in a clin­ic. Few New York hos­pi­tals have set up spe­cial depart­ments for their ben­e­fit, because they do not get enough pre­ma­ture babies to war­rant it; there are not enough doc­tors and nurs­es expe­ri­enced in this field to go around. Care of pre­ma­tures as pri­vate patients is hideous­ly expen­sive. One item it involves is six dol­lars a day for moth­er’s milk, and oth­ers are rental of an incu­ba­tor and hos­pi­tal room, oxy­gen, sev­er­al vis­its a day by a physi­cian, and fif­teen dol­lars a day for three shifts of nurs­es. The New York hos­pi­tals are mak­ing plans now to cen­tral­ize their work with pre­ma­tures at Cor­nell Med­ical Cen­ter, and prob­a­bly will have things orga­nized with­in a year. When they do, Dr. Couney says, he will retire. He will feel he has “made enough pro­pa­gan­da for pre­emies.”


Lis­ten to a Sto­ryCorps inter­view with Lucille Horn, a 1920 grad­u­ate of Couney’s Coney Island incu­ba­tors below.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

The Lit­tle Albert Exper­i­ment: The Per­verse 1920 Study That Made a Baby Afraid of San­ta Claus & Bun­nies

Why Babies in Medieval Paint­ings Look Like Mid­dle-Aged Men: An Inves­tiga­tive Video

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. She greet­ed 2024 with thou­sands of oth­er New York­ers, tak­ing a polar bear plunge at Coney Island. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

The History of the Earth (All 4.5 Billion Years) in 1 Hour: A Million Years Covered Every Second

From Kurzge­sagt comes the his­to­ry of our plan­et in one hour. They write: “Earth is 4.5 bil­lion years old — which is approx­i­mate­ly the same amount of time it took us to cre­ate this video. We’ve scaled the com­plete time­line of our Earth’s life into our first ani­mat­ed movie! Every sec­ond shows about a mil­lion years of the planet’s evo­lu­tion. Hop on a musi­cal train ride and expe­ri­ence how long a bil­lion years real­ly is.” Below, you can find the time­stamps for the geo­log­ic peri­ods cov­ered in the video.

0:00 Intro
0:51 Hadean
8:04 Eoarchean
13:20 Pale­oarchean
18:35 Mesoarchean
23:51 Neoarchean
27:47 Sider­ian
30:24 Rhy­a­cian
33:42 Orosiri­an
36:58 Stather­ian
39:38 Calym­mi­an
42:15 Ectasian
44:52 Sten­ian
47:30 Ton­ian
51:12 Cryo­gen­ian
52:18 Edi­acaran
53:35 Cam­bri­an
54:17 Ordovi­cian
54:49 Sil­uri­an
55:08 Devon­ian
55:55 Car­bonif­er­ous
56:43 Per­mi­an
57:21 Tri­as­sic
58:02 Juras­sic
58:46 Cre­ta­ceous
59:48 Pale­o­gene
1:00:21 Neo­gene
1:00:38 Qua­ter­nary
1:00:45 End­ing

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Marie Curie’s Research Papers Are Still Radioactive a Century Later

Image by The Well­come Trust

When research­ing a famous his­tor­i­cal fig­ure, access to their work and mate­ri­als usu­al­ly proves to be one of the biggest obsta­cles. But things are much more dif­fi­cult for those writ­ing about the life of Marie Curie, the sci­en­tist who, along her with hus­band Pierre, dis­cov­ered polo­ni­um and radi­um and birthed the idea of par­ti­cle physics. Her note­books, her cloth­ing, her fur­ni­ture (not to men­tion her lab), pret­ty much every­thing sur­viv­ing from her Parisian sub­ur­ban house, is radioac­tive, and will be for 1,500 years or more.

If you want to look at her man­u­scripts, you have to sign a lia­bil­i­ty waiv­er at France’s Bib­lio­theque Nationale, and then you can access the notes sealed in a lead-lined box. The Curies didn’t know about the dan­gers of radioac­tive mate­ri­als, though they did know about radioac­tiv­i­ty. Their research attempt­ed to find out which sub­stances were radioac­tive and why, and so many dan­ger­ous elements–thorium, ura­ni­um, plutonium–were just sit­ting there in their home lab­o­ra­to­ry, glow­ing at night, which Curie thought beau­ti­ful, “like faint, fairy lights,” she wrote in her auto­bi­og­ra­phy. Marie Curie car­ried these glow­ing objects around in her pock­ets. She and her hus­band wore stan­dard lab cloth­ing, noth­ing more.

Marie Curie died at age 66 in 1934, from aplas­tic ane­mia, attrib­uted to her radioac­tive research. The house, how­ev­er, con­tin­ued to be used up until 1978 by the Insti­tute of Nuclear Physics of the Paris Fac­ul­ty of Sci­ence and the Curie Foun­da­tion. After that it was kept under sur­veil­lance, author­i­ties final­ly now aware of the dan­gers inside. When many peo­ple in the neigh­bor­hood noticed high can­cer rates among them, as report­ed in Le Parisien, they blamed the Curie’s home.

The lab­o­ra­to­ry and the build­ing were decon­t­a­m­i­nat­ed in 1991, a year after the Curie estate began allow­ing access to Curie’s notes and mate­ri­als, which had been removed from the house. A flood of biogra­phies appeared soon after: Marie Curie: A Life by Susan Quinn in 1995, Pierre Curie by Anna Hur­wic in 1998, Curie: Le rêve sci­en­tifique by Loïc Bar­bo in 1999, Marie Curie et son lab­o­ra­toire by Soraya Boudia in 2001, Obses­sive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie by Bar­bara Gold­smith in 2005, and Radioac­tive: Marie and Pierre Curie, a Tale of Love and Fall­out by Lau­ren Red­niss in 2011.

Still, pass­ing away at 66 is not too shab­by when one has changed the world in the name of sci­ence. Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize (1903), the only woman to win it again (1911), the first woman to become a pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Paris, and the first woman to be entombed (on her own mer­its) at the Pan­théon in Paris. And she man­aged many of her break­throughs after the pass­ing of her hus­band Pierre in 1906–who slipped and fell in the rain on a busy Paris street and was run over by the wheels of a horse-drawn cart.

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in 2015.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

An Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion to the Life & Work of Marie Curie, the First Female Nobel Lau­re­ate

Marie Curie’s Ph.D. The­sis on Radioactivity–Which Made Her the First Woman in France to Receive a Doc­tor­al Degree in Physics

An Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion to the Life & Work of Marie Curie, the First Female Nobel Lau­re­ate

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the FunkZone Pod­cast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

How to Be Happier in 5 Research-Proven Steps, According to Popular Yale Professor Laurie Santos

Nature doesn’t care if you’re hap­py, but Yale psy­chol­o­gy pro­fes­sor Lau­rie San­tos does.

As Dr. San­tos points out dur­ing the above appear­ance on The Well, the goals of nat­ur­al selec­tion have been achieved as long as humans sur­vive and repro­duce, but most of us crave some­thing more to con­sid­er life worth liv­ing.

With depres­sion ris­ing to near epi­dem­ic lev­els on col­lege cam­pus­es and else­where, it’s worth tak­ing a look at our ingrained behav­ior, and maybe mak­ing some mod­i­fi­ca­tions to boost our hap­pi­ness lev­els.

Psy­chol­o­gy and the Good Life, Dr. San­tos’ mas­sive twice week­ly lec­ture class that active­ly tack­les ways of edg­ing clos­er to hap­pi­ness, is the most pop­u­lar course in Yale’s more than 300-year his­to­ry.

Do we detect some resis­tance?

Pos­i­tive psy­chol­o­gy — or the sci­ence of hap­pi­ness — is a pret­ty crowd­ed field late­ly, and the over­whelm­ing demand cre­at­ed by great throngs of peo­ple long­ing to feel bet­ter has attract­ed a fair num­ber of grifters will­ing to impart their proven method­olo­gies to any­one enrolling in their paid online cours­es.

By con­trast, Dr. San­tos not only has that Yale pedi­gree, she also cites oth­er respect­ed aca­d­e­mics such as the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chicago’s Nicholas Epley, a social cog­ni­tion spe­cial­ist who believes under­so­cial­i­ty, or a lack of face-to-face engage­ment, is mak­ing peo­ple mis­er­able, and Harvard’s Dan Gilbert and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Virginia’s Tim­o­thy Wil­son, who co-authored a paper on “mis­want­i­ng”, or the ten­den­cy to inac­cu­rate­ly pre­dict what will tru­ly result in sat­is­fac­tion and hap­pi­ness.

Yale under­grad Mick­ey Rose, who took Psy­chol­o­gy and the Good Life in the spring of 2022 to ful­fill a social sci­ence cred­it, told the Yale Dai­ly News that her favorite part of the class was that “every­thing was cit­ed, every­thing had a cred­i­ble source and study to back it up:”

I’m a STEM major and it’s kind of my over­all per­son­al­i­ty type to ques­tion claims that I find not very believ­able. Obvi­ous­ly the class made a lot of claims about mon­ey, grades, hap­pi­ness, that are coun­ter­in­tu­itive to most peo­ple and to Yale stu­dents espe­cial­ly.

With Psy­chol­o­gy and the Good Life now avail­able to the pub­lic for free on Cours­era, even skep­tics might con­sid­er giv­ing Dr. San­tos’ rec­om­mend­ed “re-wire­ment prac­tices” a peek, though be fore­warned, you should be pre­pared to put them into prac­tice before mak­ing pro­nounce­ments as to their effi­ca­cy.

It’s all pret­ty straight­for­ward stuff, start­ing with “use your phone to actu­al­ly be a phone”, mean­ing call a friend or fam­i­ly mem­ber to set up an in per­son get togeth­er rather than scrolling through end­less social media feeds.

Oth­er com­mon sense adjust­ments include look­ing beyond your­self to help by vol­un­teer­ing, resolv­ing to adopt a glass-is-half-full type atti­tude, cul­ti­vat­ing mind­ful­ness, mak­ing dai­ly entries in a grat­i­tude jour­nal, and becom­ing less seden­tary.

(You might also give Dr. San­tos’ Hap­pi­ness Lab pod­cast a go…)

Things to guard against are mea­sur­ing your own hap­pi­ness against the per­ceived hap­pi­ness of oth­ers and “impact bias” — over­es­ti­mat­ing the dura­tion and inten­si­ty of hap­pi­ness that is the expect­ed result of some hot­ly antic­i­pat­ed event, acqui­si­tion or change in social stand­ing.

Below Dr. San­tos gives a tour of the Good Life Cen­ter, an on-cam­pus space that stressed out, social­ly anx­ious stu­dents can vis­it to get help putting some of those re-wire­ment prac­tices into play.

Sign up for Coursera’s 10-week Sci­ence of Well-Being course here.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

The Sci­ence of Well-Being: Take a Free Online Ver­sion of Yale University’s Most Pop­u­lar Course

Free Online Psy­chol­o­gy & Neu­ro­science Cours­es, a sub­set of our col­lec­tion, 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties

What Are the Keys to Hap­pi­ness? Lessons from a 75-Year-Long Har­vard Study

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Death-Cap Mushrooms are Terrifying and Unstoppable: A Wild Animation

Mush­rooms are just­ly cel­e­brat­ed as vir­tu­ous mul­ti­taskers.

They’re food, teach­ers, movie stars, design inspi­ra­tion

…and some, as any­one who’s spent time play­ing or watch­ing The Last of Us can read­i­ly attest, are killers.

Hope­ful­ly we’ve got some time before civ­i­liza­tion is con­quered by zom­bie cordy­ceps.

For now, the ones to watch out for are amani­ta phal­loide, aka death cap mush­rooms.

The pow­er­ful ama­tox­in they har­bor is behind 90 per­cent of mush­room-relat­ed fatal­i­ties world­wide. It caus­es severe liv­er dam­age, lead­ing to bleed­ing dis­or­ders, brain swelling, and mul­ti-organ fail­ure in those who sur­vive. 

A death cap took the life of a three-year-old in British Colum­bia who mis­took one for a tasty straw mush­room on a for­ag­ing expe­di­tion with his fam­i­ly near their apart­ment com­plex. 

In Mel­bourne, a pot pie that test­ed pos­i­tive for death caps result­ed in the deaths of three adults, and sent a fourth to the hos­pi­tal in crit­i­cal con­di­tion.

As the ani­ma­tors feast on mush­rooms’ lim­it­less visu­al appeal in the above episode of The Atlantic’s Life Up Close series, author Craig Childs deliv­ers some sober­ing news:

We did it to our­selves. Humans are the ones who’ve enabled death caps to spread so far beyond their native habi­tats in Scan­di­navia and parts of north­ern Europe, where the poi­so­nous fun­gi feed on the root tips of decid­u­ous trees, spring­ing up around their hosts in tidy fairy rings.

When oth­er coun­tries import these trees to beau­ti­fy their city streets, the death caps, whose frag­ile spores are inca­pable of trav­el­ing long dis­tances when left to their own devices, tag along.

They have sprout­ed in the Pacif­ic North­west near import­ed sweet chest­nuts, beech­es, horn­beams, lin­dens, red oaks, and Eng­lish oaks, and oth­er host species.

As bio­chemist Paul Kroeger, cofounder of the Van­cou­ver Myco­log­i­cal Soci­ety, explained in a 2019 arti­cle Childs penned for the Atlantic, the inva­sive death caps aren’t pop­ping up in deeply wood­ed areas. 

Rather, they are set­tling into urban neigh­bor­hoods, fre­quent­ly in the grass strips bor­der­ing side­walks. When Childs accom­pa­nied Krueger on his rounds, the first of two dozen death caps dis­cov­ered that day were found in front of a house fes­tooned with Hal­loween dec­o­ra­tions. 

Now that they have estab­lished them­selves, the death caps can­not be roust­ed. No longer mere tourists, they’ve been seen mak­ing the jump to native oaks in Cal­i­for­nia and West­ern Cana­da.

Childs also notes that death caps are no longer a North Amer­i­can prob­lem:

They have spread world­wide where for­eign trees have been intro­duced into land­scap­ing and forestry prac­tices: North and South Amer­i­ca, New Zealand, Aus­tralia, South and East Africa, and Mada­gas­car. In Can­ber­ra, Aus­tralia, in 2012, an expe­ri­enced Chi­nese-born chef and his assis­tant pre­pared a New Year’s Eve din­ner that includ­ed, unbe­knownst to them, local­ly gath­ered death caps. Both died with­in two days, wait­ing for liv­er trans­plants; a guest at the din­ner also fell ill, but sur­vived after a suc­cess­ful trans­plant.

For­agers should pro­ceed with extreme cau­tion.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

The Beau­ti­ful­ly Illus­trat­ed Atlas of Mush­rooms: Edi­ble, Sus­pect and Poi­so­nous (1827)

A Stun­ning, Hand-Illus­trat­ed Book of Mush­rooms Drawn by an Over­looked 19th Cen­tu­ry Female Sci­en­tist

Alger­ian Cave Paint­ings Sug­gest Humans Did Mag­ic Mush­rooms 9,000 Years Ago

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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