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An inventor, a bird, and a plan to unite all the minds in the world in the era of magical electromagnetic thinking.

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Personal essay in Sierra Magazine

How a circadian rhythm disorder and my obsession with an owl cam led me to the great outdoors.

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Article in The New Yorker

It has always been a dream of mine to write for the New Yorker, so it feels right that my first piece for them should be about dreams.

I started working on this story in 2019. I had become fascinated by theories of embodied cognition, which suggest that the mind is a product not of the brain alone, but of the whole body. But that raised a nagging question: what about dreams?


It's a huge honor to win joint first place in the 2023 FQXi Essay Contest: How could science be different? I wrote about the subject-object distinction, which is so baked into the foundations of science that we don't notice it's just an with a history and profound consequences. The split led to the measurement problem in quantum mechanics, the hard problem in cognitive science, and the disastrous attitude of modern humans toward the environment. The QBist approach to quantum mechanics and the enactive approach to cognitive science provide models for how we might begin to do science without the split. You can read my essay here.


Science writers as artists and craftsmen

Touched to be included in this lovely piece about science writing by Ashutosh Jogalekar. (Though there are days I wish I had some more "craftsmen" skills in me...)

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Trespassing, the universe and everything. A conversation with Ben Miller

What's ultimately real? How did the universe come from nothing? Ben Miller and I discuss it all on the Onward podcast. Listen here.

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What plant behavior can tell us about human minds. 
My new piece in Nautilus 

If the representational theory of the mind says that plants can’t perform intelligent, cognitive behaviors, and the evidence shows that plants do perform intelligent, cognitive behaviors, maybe it’s time to rethink the theory. “We have plants doing amazing things and they have no neurons,” Paco Calvo says. “So maybe we should question the very premise that neurons are needed for cognition at all.”

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QBism, Meet Enactivism! A conversation at the intersection of quantum mechanics and the mind

What do the QBist interpretation of quantum mechanics and the enactive approach to cognitive science have in common? Lots! A series of talks and discussion with Chris Fuchs, Ezequiel Di Paolo, and Hanne De Jaegher. 

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Well doc, it's out! Pub day has arrived for our biography of Freeman Dyson

I had the pleasure of contributing the first chapter to this biography of the late, great physicist Freeman Dyson, edited by David Kaiser. Dyson was famous worldwide for his groundbreaking work in quantum electrodynamics, his design of a nuclear reactor, his plans for interstellar spacecraft and his imaginings of alien civilizations, not to mention his beloved popular books. This collection covers it all, with chapters by leading historians, scientists, and writers, as well as Dyson's colleagues and children. 

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"Finite, flawed, flesh and blood creatures, we are pieces of the universe, and everything we do requires us to grab hold of other pieces and shake them until something new falls out. A measurement outcome. A life. A past. A future. Uncertainty, unpredictability, and randomness — they’re the costs of being part of the world. The price we pay to have an impact." My latest piece, on the physics of the future, for The Distance.

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Schrodinger's cat, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, nuclear war...David Kaiser explores it all in his book Quantum Legacies. I had the privilege of chatting with him in this event for the Harvard Book Store.


The Many Meanings of Schrödinger's Cat at

There are many tales (tails?) to be told about Schrödinger's cat, depending on your interpretation of quantum mechanics. At the Institute of Art and Ideas, I give the classic story a QBist twist. It was an honor to participate along with Carlo Rovelli, Jenann Ismael, Sheldon Goldstein, Alyssa Ney, Chiara Marletto, Tim Maudlin, Lev Vaidman, and Tim Palmer. Find your favorite interpretation here

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Caslav Brukner and colleagues have worked out a theory of quantum reference frames, allowing us to translate from one perspective to another even when superpositions and entanglement are involved. This is helping to solve practical problems with high-speed quantum communication. But it also sheds light on whether there exists a shared reality in quantum mechanics. Intriguingly, the answer seems to be no - until we start talking to each other. You can read the article (paywalled, sorry) here

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Is consciousness fundamental in the universe? (No.) Does quantum mechanics force us to rethink the meaning of "observer"? (Yes.) A lively debate with Brian Greene, Patricia Churchland, and Laura Mersini-Houghton on the relationship between the mind and the universe. Part of the 2021 How the Light Gets In festival. You can watch the full video here


Quoted in Scientific American

"The central lesson of quantum mechanics,” Gefter told me, “is that “subject and object can never be decoupled.”...Maybe, Gefter speculates, we don’t live in either a first-person world or a third-person world, as implied by idealism and materialism, respectively. Maybe we live in a second-person world, and the fundamental entity of existence is not “I” or “It” but “You.”

I'm honored to be mentioned in this deep and thoughtful piece by John Horgan in Scientific American.


"Greetings from my desk—Watertown, Massachusetts, Pandemic USA—where I have now spent some vague eternity writing, reading, thinking, dreaming, pulling strands of thought like silk threads from the pages of books. I play them like some polyphonic instrument—notes of Niels Bohr, Martin Buber, George Herbert Mead, Peter Putnam, Marjorie Grene, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Mikhail Bakhtin—and listen for unexpected melodies in the tunes of quantum mechanics, enactivism, pragmatism, language, the mind..." 

- Summer Postcards to


"He proposed on a beach and it was 2:00 in the morning, and we were basically the only people there. It was so meaningful to me that he had proposed during my day — that this thing that had almost broken us, the biggest challenge in our relationship, had led to this beautiful moment where it felt like we had the entire universe to ourselves."Miya Lee of the New York Times interviewed me about the new episode of Modern Love based on my story, "The Night Girl Finds a Day Boy." 

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"The Night Girl Finds a Day Boy" now streaming on Amazon Prime!

The amazing Zoe Chao and Gbenga Akinnagbe play myself and my now husband, Justin Smith, in the TV adaptation of my 2016 Modern Love essay about love and circadian rhythms. With a screenplay by Sarah Heyward, directed by Jesse Peretz, the episode is a sensitive portrayal of life with DSPD. It has been incredibly surreal to watch our story play out on the screen! 


“Declaring something impossible leads to more things being possible,” writes the physicist Chiara Marletto. “Bizarre as it may seem, it is commonplace in quantum physics.” Marletto tells me about constructor theory and the role of counterfactuals in the nature of reality in this new Q&A in Quanta.

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The mind, the universe, and everything in between. I loved this conversation with the always curious and thoughtful John Horgan on Meaning of Life TV

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