A review of How to Find a Habitable Planet by James Kasting. The problem of representing the heterotic superstring: Sean Miller explores the necessary role of an imaginary in string theorists' search for a coherent "theory of everything". Non-stop cosmos, non-stop career: An interview with Roger Penrose. From Big Think, an interview with Michio Kaku. Every black hole contains another universe? Like cosmic Russian dolls, our universe may be nested inside a black hole in another universe, a new study suggests. More and more and more and more and more on The Essential Engineer: Why Science Alone Will Not Solve Our Global Problems by Henry Petroski. More on The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes. A review of Decoding Reality: The Universe as Quantum Information by Vlatko Vedral (and more). Physicists are unsatisfied with the supreme ability of quantum theory to predict how stuff behaves at very small scales, and are following the lead of its original architects, such as Bohr, Heisenberg and Einstein, in demanding to know what it means. How long is a day, or how long does it take the Earth to spin once on its axis? A new study finds some sciences really are better than others. With the Large Hadron Collider up and running, expectations are high: Shouldn’t discoveries start pouring in? The force is weak with this one: Scientists measure a few yoctonewtons for the first time. A review of The Tunguska Mystery by Vladimir Rubtsov. A review of In Praise of Science: Curiosity, Understanding, and Progress by Sander Bais. Science warriors' ego trips: The champions of empiricism show an unattractive hubris when they go after what they see as pseudoscience. A review of Our Undiscovered Universe: Introducing Null Physics by Terence Witt. Here are excerpts from Physics For Dummies by Steve Holzner.

From The New York Times Magazine, a special issue on the science of living a healthy life. Barca Lounging: Meet Lionel Messi, the best soccer player in the world (thanks to the ineffable genius of his teammates). The first chapter from Awakening Giants, Feet of Clay: Assessing the Economic Rise of China and India by Pranab Bardhan. Jennifer McDonald on the war on cliche (that’s such a cliche). The Joy of -ext: Sexting, chexting, drexting and the rise of a salacious suffix. From The Guardian, a series on the great dynasties of the world. Sorry Google, but Facebook is the Web's most important company now. The Rise of Decline: Experts say things are collapsing — maybe they’re not collapsing fast enough. A review of The Oxford Book of Parodies. Ministry of Silly Wars: Lawrence Osborne on Britain in Central Asia. Maurice Manning reviews Coal Mountain Elementary by Mark Nowak, with photographs by Ian Teh and Mark Nowak. A review of Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee (and more and more and more). From Critical Mass, a new series on websites dedicated to book reviewing online. When it comes to the slave trade, all guilt is not equal: Michael Gomez challenges the argument by Henry Louis Gates Jr. that Africans were equally responsible for the trade in humans, therefore complicating reparations. Two radically different environmental messages are taking shape in the world today — does it matter which one we choose? It's not just greater affluence that leads to freedom and happiness, but the combination of greater wealth with relative economic equality; freer, happier societies reflect the old adage of a rising tide that lifts all boats. From Telos, Alexander I. Stingl on the virtualization of health and illness in the age of biological citizenship.

From the Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, Howard Hsueh-Hao Chiang (Princeton): Homosexual Behavior in the United States, 1988-2004: Quantitative Empirical Support for the Social Construction Theory of Sexuality; Gwendolin Altenhoefer on Friend hoppers, pleasure activism, the Schlampagne and the Octopus: Non-monogamous activism in the German lesbian-feminist subculture; and a review of The World We Have Won by Jeffrey Weeks. From Curve, an interview with Sarah Schulman, author of Ties That Bind: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences; and an interview with Julie Abraham, author of Metropolitan Lovers: The Homosexuality of Cities. From The Gay and Lesbian Review, a review of James Baldwin’s Turkish Decade: Erotics of Exile by Magdalena Zaborowska; an interview with Edmund White, author of City Boy (and more and more on White); get to know Bruno Vogel: A German soldier’s WWI novel was a herald of gayer tomorrows; and the last Englishman: E. M. Forster was also one of the last fully closeted writers (and more on Maurice). Dale Peck on how homosexuality is the key to E. M. Forster's personal life, but not to his work. From Hipster Book Club, is literature post-queer? Musings on the GLBT Genre. Like their straight counterparts, LGBT comics offer a wide range of world-views. The gay media jump the page: On-line sites now reign, but can they survive without hard copy? Penn will use admissions data about sexual orientation to recruit gay students — does that open the door for true diversity? A review of Heroes and Exiles: Gay Icons Through the Ages by Tom Ambrose. There goes the gayborhood: A straight man’s lament for the demise of gay neighborhoods. The Gay Option: Same-sex love is a choice — and it’s time LGBT activists start saying so.

From Judgment and Decision Making, Gideon Keren (Tilburg) and Karl H. Teigen (Oslo): Decisions by coin toss: Inappropriate but fair; Leah Borovoi and Nira Liberman (Tel Aviv) and Yaacov Trope (NYU): The effects of attractive but unattainable alternatives on the attractiveness of near and distant future menus; Yanlong Sun and Hongbin Wang (Texas): Gambler’s fallacy, hot hand belief, and the time of patterns; and Eli Tsukayama and Angela Lee Duckworth (Penn): Domain-specific temporal discounting and temptation. As he limbers up for the philosophers' football rematch, Julian Baggini analyses the existential importance of Monty Python's classic sketch. World War II's Operation Mincemeat was a dazzling feat of wartime espionage, but does it argue for or against spying? Malcolm Gladwell investigates. From The Economist, a special report on innovation in emerging markets. He who casts the first stone: For over a year, a small group of militant Christians calling themselves Repent Amarillo have terrorized Amarillo's underground swingers community. A review of The Arts of Industry in the Age of Enlightenment by Celina Fox. The Gray Zone: Barry Gewen on defining torture. "We need citizens without frontiers": An interview with Benjamin Barber. From Big Think, an interview with Louis Menand. Why the hell is Rupert Murdoch launching a "Greater New York" section in The Wall Street Journal? From In These Times, why do they want to do us harm? Helen Thomas asked the question, the White House stonewalled, here are answers (and part 2 and part 3). Kate Zambreno reviews The Illustrated Version of Things by Affinity Konar. John Mearsheimer on the future of Palestine: Righteous Jews vs. New Afrikaners. Aaron David Miller on the false religion of Mideast peace, and why he's no longer a believer.

A crisis in trans-Atlantic relations: Why Obama is ignoring Europe. A conference in Brussels was dominated by European efforts to get Washington’s attention with promises of new, concerted action. From its social model to its eco-policies, Europe has much to teach the US – but it must recognise that Obama cannot deliver what it hoped he would. Why the United States needs Europe more than ever. Suicide of the West: Will America follow Europe into anomie and atheism? America and Europe meet midway: There are many different Europes — what if America should converge on the wrong one? If the US Europeanizes, Europe is in trouble. US versus Europe, which has the superior model? Both flavors of Western capitalism — unfettered American-style and European social democracy — are in trouble. An excerpt from The Narcissism of Minor Differences: How Europe and America are Alike by Peter Baldwin (and more). John Kay on how political ideology found a new world. Which planet is America on (and which Europe)? Joel Kotkin on America's European dream. A report finds climbing the economic ladder is harder in the US than in most European countries. Steven Hill on his book Europe’s Promise: Why the European Way is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age. Some are smiling at Europe's comeuppance, but schadenfreude would be unwarranted, especially coming from Americans. An interview with Jurgen Habermas on democracy, Europe and Twitter. Europe, know thyself: An article on social science solutions to the biggest problems. Is Europe imploding? Redrawing the map: The European map is outdated and illogical — here's how it should look (or perhaps as Marge Simpson). Having daughters makes you more left-wing (in Britain and Germany) or more right-wing (in the US).