The Notre Dame Fire and the Future of History

Some of the wood that burned in the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris on Monday was put in place in the year 1160. The beams and exterior of the roof over the nave, the long main section of the building, date from between 1220 and 1240. Nearly a millennium ago it was forest; today, after a catastrophe that cuts to the heart of French culture and human history, it’s ash. “It was one of the oldest—until today—surviving roofs of that kind,” says Robert Bork, an architectural historian at the University of Iowa. “It’s incomparable.” The fire began Monday evening, around 6:30 pm, in the church’s attic. The building’s familiar towers and flying buttresses loomed over the Ile de la …

Noisy Quantum Computers Could Be Good for Chemistry Problems

Scientists and researchers have long extolled the extraordinary potential capabilities of universal quantum computers, like simulating physical and natural processes or breaking cryptographic codes in practical time frames. Yet important developments in the technology—the ability to fabricate the necessary number of high-quality qubits (the basic units of quantum information) and gates (elementary operations between qubits)—is most likely still decades away. However, there is a class of quantum devices—ones that currently exist—that could address otherwise intractable problems much sooner than that. These near-term quantum devices, coined Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum (NISQ) by Caltech professor John Preskill, are single-purpose, highly imperfect, and modestly sized. As the name implies, NISQ devices are “noisy,” meaning that the results of calculations have errors, which in some …

Canada warming at twice the global rate, climate report finds

Report by Environment and Climate Change Canada suggests the majority of warming is the result of burning fossil fuels Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, a landmark government Canadas climate is warming more rapidly than the global average, and this level of warming effectively cannot be changed, Nancy Hamzawi, assistant deputy minister for science and technology at Environment and Climate Change Canada, told reporters on Monday. The report, released late on Monday by Environment and Climate Change Canada, paints a grim picture of Canadas future, in which deadly heatwaves and heavy rainstorms become a common occurrence. Forty-three government scientists and academics authored the peer-reviewed report. While global temperatures have increased 0.8C since 1948, Canada …

Costa Rica’s Zero-Carbon Plan Could Be a Model for the World

Carlos Alvarado Quesada has heard all the naysayers before. In February, the 39-year-old president of Costa Rica committed to ridding the country of fossil fuels by 2050. If successful, Alvarado's plan could make Costa Rica the first zero-emissions country. With a population of merely 5 million, this leafy Central American nation is not a major contributor to the world's climate crisis. So why bother then? "People ask me a lot, why do this if you are so small," Alvarado said in a meeting last week with editors at WIRED's San Francisco office. "They say, you're not going to move the needle or affect the scale of the problem." China, the US, and India hold the dark distinction of leading the …

Women’s Pain Is Different From Men’sthe Drugs Could Be Too

Men and women can’t feel each other’s pain. Literally. We have different biological pathways for chronic pain, which means pain-relieving drugs that work for one sex might fail in the other half of the population. So why don’t we have pain medicines designed just for men or women? The reason is simple: Because no one has looked for them. Drug development begins with studies on rats and mice, and until three years ago, almost all that research used only male animals. As a result, women in particular may be left with unnecessary pain—but men might be too. Now a study in the journal Brain reveals differences in the sensory nerves that enter the spinal cords of men and women with …