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The Natural World

The Dog-Eared Page

The Enchanted Loom

The brain’s genius is its gift for reflection. . . . It takes many forms: our finding similarities among seemingly unrelated things, wadding up worries into tangled balls of obsession difficult to pierce even with the spike of logic, painting elaborate status or romance fantasies in which we star, picturing ourselves elsewhere and elsewhen.

By Diane Ackerman November 2022
The Sun Interview

Under The Surface

Güven Güzeldere On The Mysteries Of Consciousness And Artificial Intelligence

Cohen: This summer, a Google engineer named Blake Lemoine caused controversy by disclosing a conversation with an AI called LaMDA, or “Language Model for Dialog Applications.” The conversation seemed to suggest this AI system had some awareness of itself, but the idea was dismissed by a number of people who work with such systems.

Güzeldere: It’s interesting that Google fired the guy who published that conversation. . . . People are saying, “Oh, it’s just a hack,” but it’s a very impressive hack. I think it will become a product that will be accepted by consumers.

By Finn Cohen November 2022
Photography

A Thousand Words

A Thousand Words features photography so rich with narrative that it tells a story all on its own.

Photograph By Martha Frantz November 2022
Photography

I Hope You Find What You’re Looking For

Often, when I’m out wandering with my camera, some kind person will help me with directions, then call out as I’m heading down the road, “I hope you find what you’re looking for!” It’s a wish that floats around in my mind, challenging me.

Text And Photographs By Gloria Baker Feinstein November 2022
Poetry

Farmhouse By The Highway

The hardest thing about death, my mother said, is when you stop remembering what drove you mad. Like the way my father typed one key at a time, or how he spit in his hands to smooth cowlicks in his hair.

By Matt Barrett October 2022
Fiction

Bottom Feeders

I feel close to Dad on the drive home, our legs mud-dry and tired, the tackle box between us, the pillowcase full of fish and ice. She’ll never admit it, but Mom will be impressed, I’m sure. In a million years she’d never guess how we caught so many. I’ll never tell.

By Peter Short October 2022
Poetry

Five Months After My First Husband’s Death

My son posts a picture of himself at three years old / with his father, my first husband, / who still has black curly hair and is looking right out of the photograph / at me, as if he knew this day would come, me staring back / at him and wondering where that moment has gone.

By Colette Marie October 2022
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Luminescence

In the backseat on long car rides home from my grandmother’s house in southern Illinois, I cataloged light sources in the dark: gazing at flare towers burning above oil wells, watching the taillights of faster cars shrink to pinpoints, following the sweep of flood lamps up the domes of concrete grain silos.

By Steve Edwards August 2022
Poetry

Selected Poems

I count out the dog’s pills — one for pain, / one for swelling, five to oil those scraping joints — / a rosary I pray will go on forever. I believe / I am staving off the inevitable.

from “Devotion”

By K.T. Landon August 2022
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Bat Season

These were strange and intoxicating expeditions. At the cliff-lined ends of forest-service roads or the edges of muddy cattle tanks, or in the cricket-loud groves where saguaros gave way to oaks, I would help stretch nets on moonless evenings. Bats fluttered into the thin weave and were trapped, toothy and screaming.

By River Reyes August 2022