The Second Act Of The World's Most Controversial Car Designer

Chris Bangle was the most infamous car designer during his 17-year tenure at BMW. Now, he's drawing cartoons in the Italian countryside.

Over the 17 years that Chris Bangle served as head of design at BMW, he became in equal measure one of the most famous and one of the most loathed designers working in the industry. Bangle drastically departed from the design language that BMW had become known for in the 50 years prior, and made enemies of purist BMW fans in the process—though many would later admit that the designs aged well. In 2009, he left the car giant and started up his own design consultancy firm.

Chris Bangle & Associates is headquartered in Clavesana, a small town in the Piedmont region of the Italian countryside. Bangle runs it with his wife, Catherine, and employs two secretaries as his only full-time employees. Otherwise, he hires a cadre of mostly local freelance designers to work on various projects, and taps into his network of designers and friends in a variety of disciplines to help on a case-by-case basis. For a recent project working on the design of a nursing home in Japan, for example, he pulled in a local Italian architect as well as a Japanese colleague who has been designing cars for 30 years. Together, they reimagined the common spaces in the home to be more interactive, adding in design elements like a pole topped with a sports car steering wheel that residents can hold on to while waiting for the elevator.

When Bangle moved from Fiat to run design at BMW in 1992, he was brought on to reimagine the company's design philosophy completely—and that's exactly what he did as his detractors will all too gleefully tell you. He was criticized harshly by car fans for taking BMW's sleek lines and tasteful design and replacing them with complicated, seemingly nonsensical, often boxy shapes. These were designs that hadn't been seen in car design before. (As he told David Kiley at Bloomberg, "We aren’t copying anyone else’s design language, not even our own, and I think that makes some people uncomfortable.") In founding his own firm, Bangle says, he wanted to do that for a variety of companies, working in areas as diverse as consumer electronics to packaging to environmental graphics to, yes, even car design.

"I wanted to found a design company of associates for the reason that I believe in co-innovating, with everyone from clients to engineers, marketing and end users," he says. "The clients we have are still classic design clients. But they are clients that want more than just product design, they want their own company to embrace design and grow along the way."

As a design consultancy, there aren't many projects Bangle can talk about in specific terms. According to the firm's website, it has consulted on projects for companies as high-profile and varied as Adidas, Mattel, and Samsung (to rumors that he plays a big design role for the latter, he's only said he's one of several people outside the company helping create product experiences for Samsung's customers). He mentions designing for an assisted living facility in Japan, and packaging for an alcohol company as well as a huge environmental graphics project, but otherwise remains relatively tight-lipped.

The other side of the firm speaks to Bangle's more eccentric side: He and his wife's long-time interest in art has culminated in various projects such as Arky Arch, a cartoon that follows the wacky adventures of an anthropomorphic Triumphal Arch. There's also the Big Bench Community Project—literally a series of giant benches in a park near the studio that dwarf sitters, much to the delight of tourists. These projects at times come out of client projects or serve as inspiration for the team in between work, and are under the purview of one of the dedicated secretaries.

As for client work, Bangle says that right now nearly his entire team of freelancers are busy working on one large project that involves the development of an electric car, the first car project in a while that he's felt truly excited about. Although it is still too early to know if the car will be an autonomous vehicle, Bangle says he's not currently involved in the race to build self-driving cars. But he is keeping an eye on it.

The autonomous car industry has stalled, Bangle says, because people are waiting to see what it becomes before it can move forward. Driverless functionality and ride-sharing, "dramatically changes the meaning of a car," he says. "We'll have to decide, what is [a car] to me? Something I make money on?" Tesla, he says, is doing the best work in this space ("You have to give props for their gung-ho approach"), but until it and other companies designing autonomous vehicles fully decide on the answer, there won't be any significant movement forward.

Bangle, always a firm believer that people a buy car because they are emotionally engaged with it, says that the design of autonomous vehicles still leaves a lot to be desired. "People have a right to be critics," of the current crop of driverless cars, he says. The jury is still out on whether autonomous cars will still require the driver to be paying attention, for instance, and the aesthetics of Google's self-driving carhave been criticized for being unsophisticated. "I don’t think it’s moving forward as quickly as it could. The entire industry is holding its breath to see how this new paradigm will function."

Bangle has always been a bit of an evangelist about the emotional quality of objects (in fact, he tells a story about the origins of this design philosophy, which involve his mother attributing feelings to the dinner dishes, on the first episode of Arky Arch). It's an approach to car design that has made his designs for BMW both reviled by traditionalists and, eventually, an inspiration for other companies. It's also a design philosophy he applies to whatever he is designing or consulting on. "To me, it’s all car design," Bangle says. "The way I describe car design, and transmitting emotion into the design process—it’s all the same type of thing. I never left that side of car design. What I did leave is having a team of 500 people responding to you and that’s been a big change."

True to style, it's even something he's imbued in his Triumphal Arch cartoon. "In a sense, [Arky Arch] is an enterprise I personally consider car design," he says. "The idea of using things in our life and giving personality and character without adding hands or eyeballs or feet. That’s what car designers should be promoting as a skill set."

[All Photos: courtesy Chris Bangle & Associates]

The 200 Best Songs of the 1970s

From 10cc to XTC, from London to Lagos, from 7” singles to side-long epics, and from punk to prog to ambient to disco, our list of the greatest songs from one of music’s greatest decades.

The 1970s was arguably the single decade of the 20th century when recorded music was most central to culture. There were, of course, fewer kinds of media competing for the average consumer’s time—television meant just a handful of channels, video games were the size of refrigerators and could be found in arcades. As the used vinyl bins of the world are still telling us, records were the thing. Labels were flush with cash, sales of LPs and singles were brisk, and record stores were everywhere. Home stereos were a standard part of middle-class culture. 

Analog recording technology was at its zenith, FM radio was ascendant, and the AM dial still focused on music. The children of the baby boom were coming into their late twenties and thirties—young enough to still be serious music consumers, but old enough to have their own generation of children who were starting to buy music.

And then there was the music itself. Disco, an entire cultural movement fueled by a genre of music—with massive impact on fashion, film, TV and advertising—was utterly ubiquitous. Rock music emerged from the ’60s as to go-to choice of white youth culture. Soul and funk were reaching new levels of artistry. Punk, the first serious backlash against the rock mainstream, came into its own. Records from Jamaica were making their way to the UK and, eventually, the U.S., changing sounds and urging a new kind of political consciousness. As culture moved in every direction at once, there were more great songs than anyone could count.

As voted by our full time staff and contributors, these are Pitchfork's 200 best songs of the 1970s.

Eadweard Muybridge: The Man Who Captured Time

Eadweard Muybridge revealed a new universe of motion with his camera, but history has largely obscured his extraordinary accomplishments with photography.

The first humans who put paint on stone drew deer, buffalo, horses. They drew all the beasts man knew, and they painted them running.

It started on a cave wall in France some 40,000 years ago with animals that seemed to move with their hindquarters planted, torsos rigid, their front legs stiff and raised ever so off the ground. These Paleolithic artists were primitive, of course, but for the thousands of years to follow, neither the ancient Greeks, nor Leonardo Da Vinci, nor the Japanese masters, nor the 19th-century French artist Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier (regarded for his pictures of horses) could seem to understand how to draw an animal in motion.

Especially horses. Even as humans increasingly spent their lives around horses, the greatest artistic talents of their time drew them running with all four legs splayed, as if mounted to a rocker. Man has always sought to understand the natural world—if for no other reason than to bend it to our will. But an invisible life existed in the motion of the horse, hidden from our eye, and thus from human understanding. Until the 1870s, when the man who founded Stanford University became obsessed with this mystery—so much so that he hired the photographer Eadweard Muybridge.

The galloping horse became Muybridge’s greatest achievement, but it would also become as obscure as his many other accomplishments. As he neared death, it’s said Muybridge panicked over the idea he’d be forgotten. And he almost was. No major museums had staged a retrospective of his work until six years ago at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, when the curator Philip Brookman thought to put one together, partly because no one else had. Last month, the National Gallery of Art (which absorbed the Corcoran in 2014) presented Intersections, which offers another chance to consider Muybridge’s mind and his legacy, and to see the work of another 19th-century pioneer of photography, Alfred Stieglitz.

In its earliest years, photography rode an unsure line between science and art. It transported facts of the world to the public. It offered pretty images. Few people knew what to do with it. But Muybridge and Stieglitz changed that.Eadweard Muybridge

Stieglitz was an artist, born in Hoboken and trained in Berlin, who proved photos could tell stories and reveal the world as profoundly as paintings. Muybridge’s work, at first, concerned itself with questions of understanding––a mostly scientific pursuit. He was born to an English coal merchant, and at 20 he left for America, where he traveled west in search of success in the new country. In California he opened a bookstore, was absolved of killing a man, then busied himself with photographing the intricacies of women’s ankles crossing creeks, blacksmiths swinging hammers, with chickens fleeing torpedoes.It’s only recently, thanks in large part to the popularity of the GIF, that people can appreciate the genius of Muybridge’s work.

Muybridge would take his photographic discoveries on tours across America and Europe. During his lifetime he advanced the chemicals that develop film. He quickened camera shutter speed to a fraction of a second. And by aiming dozens of lenses at the same subject, he found ways to stop time and stretch it like elastic. After seeing Muybridge’s work in London in 1882, one reporter wrote that “a new world of sights and wonders was indeed opened by photography, which was not less astounding because it was truth itself."

Muybridge labored all his life to uncover the truth of motion, but by the time he died of cancer in 1904, he saw his work diminished by the lightning pace of innovation. He’d advanced photography to the point where it could capture constant movement, and developed a machine to reanimate this motion. Rightly so, he yearned for the world to remember him as the man who made cinema possible. But when that time came, other men, younger men, would claim his legacy. It’s only recently, thanks in large part to the popularity of the GIF, that people can appreciate the genius of Muybridge’s work.

* * *

Leland Stanford picked up the hobby of breeding, racing, and training horses after he served as the governor of California in the 1860s, having made millions investing in the Central Pacific Railroad. His 8,000-acre stables south of San Francisco, near Palo Alto, eventually became Stanford University. Here he kept some of the fastest horses in the world. But, as a man who’d bored America’s first train through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, he figured if he could understand how horses ran, he could make them run even faster. In this quest, a question troubled Stanford: He wanted to prove that when a horse galloped, all four of its hooves left the earth, that for a moment it became airborne.

That idea had countered logic, as The New York Times put it, “since the world began.”Eadweard Muybridge

In 1877, at a track in San Francisco, Muybridge strung a thread across the dirt at horse-chest height. It led to a trigger attached to his camera. Stanford had funded Muybridge’s work for years, and this was their most meaningful trial yet, so when Stanford’s horse trotted down the track at 40 feet per second, Muybridge was ready with his camera.

When Muybridge began his work with Stanford’s horses, photography had barely been around 50 years. The craft was so sensitive that a slight breeze on leaves in a landscape, or the shift of a neck in a portrait, could ruin a picture. A camera’s shutter speed determines how long it’s exposed to light, which means anything moving while it’s open can look blurred. Before Muybridge, photographers exposed light to the film by removing the lens cap with their hands, then jamming it back on. This is why most people in photos at the time look like zombie facsimiles of themselves, stiff with rigor mortis. But in the early 1870s, Muybridge invented mechanical shutters, a system that used a trigger and rubber springs to snap two planks shut in front of the lens at one-thousandth of a second.

The photo Muybridge took was completely disappointing—to Muybridge, at least. Yes, it pictured the horse with all four hooves off the ground, which was by no means a small achievement, because no one else in history had done this. A few newspapers ran the photo. But it was a single image. In order to understand motion, Muybridge needed to separate a movement into its parts, to slice the seconds that make a moment, then splice them back together with his photos. This would take another year.He’d later say his first memory was waking up 150 miles away in Arkansas, to a doctor who told him he’d never fully recover.

At this time, Muybridge had spent just a little more than a decade as a serious photographer––he hadn’t even started in the medium until he was in his mid-30s. In 1855 when he first arrived in San Francisco, Muybridge owned a bookstore. On May 15, 1860, Muybridge ran an advertisement saying he’d sold his store and planned to travel for Europe. On his way, his stagecoach crashed in northeast Texas down a mountainside into a tree, smashing the stagecoach to pieces, and hurling Muybridge and seven other passengers into the rocky hillside. One man died. Muybridge hit his head so hard that for a while he lost his senses of taste and smell. He’d later say his first memory was waking up 150 miles away in Arkansas, with a doctor over him who said he’d never fully recover.

Muybridge spent about six years recuperating in England, and little is known about his time there. But after his return to the Bay Area in 1866 he quickly became a masterful photographer. He captured Yosemite National Park’s thousand-foot waterfalls and its vast granite mountains––photos that would later inspire Ansel Adams. He shot lighthouses. He photographed himself pretending to be a lumberjack, his legs spread wide as he looks up the trunk of an insurmountable redwood tree.

People obsessed over landscape photos at the time. The images represented the fierceness in American spirit that had settled the frontier, but with the ease of travel brought by train seemed already to have faded. Photographers tried to bring moments of that wildness back to cities as best they could. But while shutter speed could capture stationary lakes and mountains, the passing sky overhead looked like bland white sheets. To make scenes more convincing, photographers sometimes painted or superimposed clouds into their pictures. Muybridge, instead, invented the “sky shade.” This screen shielded the sun’s light enough to capture the landscape, but still rendered the sky’s tones. Now the people in East Coast cities could look into a photo and feel as if they stood in valleys of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, or atop granite peaks. Muybridge signed these photos under the name “Helios,” the Greek personification of the sun.
Eadweard Muybridge

Muybridge looked like a mix of Walt Whitman and Zeus. He was tall and lean, with a long white beard, and bushy brows that shadowed his eyes and made him seem thoughtful and deviant. In six years he’d already gained some fame for his landscape photos, and in 1871, while in his 40s, he married a woman half his age named Flora Shallcross Stone. One year later, Stanford telegraphed Muybridge about an idea he had to photograph his horses, and for three years Muybridge worked on the technology to do exactly that. That work stopped in October 1874, after Muybridge found a letter his wife had written to a drama critic named Major Harry Larkyns.

Muybridge found the letter in his midwife’s home. In it was a photograph of his seven-month old son, upon which his wife had written the boy’s name as “Little Harry,” which led Muybridge to believe his son was not in fact his son.

“He stamped on the floor and exhibited the wildest excitement,” Muybridge’s midwife remembered after he found the letter. “He was haggard and pale and his eyes glassy ... he trembled from head to foot and gasped for breath.”

Muybridge caught a train that afternoon north from San Francisco to Vallejo. It was night when he knocked on Larkyns’ door. As Larkyns stepped forward, Muybridge shoved a revolver at him and said, “I have brought a message from my wife, take it.”

Larkyns died from the gunshot. At trial, Muybridge pleaded insanity. Stanford hired a lawyer to defend him, and friends testified that the stagecoach crash had jarred something loose, had transformed a genial bookstore owner into an emotionally unmoored photographer. A friend and fellow photographer, William H. Rulofson, at trial said Muybridge sometimes slipped into bursts of grief or anger, and just as easily into a placid daze, “immovable as stone.” It’s hard to tell whether this personality change was real or a story conjured by a creative lawyer, but one theory about Muybridge’s injury is that it damaged his orbitofrontal cortex. If that is true, along with altering his emotions, it could explain why Muybridge became so possessed with his work.

Injuries to the orbitofrontal cortex are sometimes connected to obsessive-compulsive disorder, and it was through Muybridge's microscopic fixation on motion that his photos became art. He photographed birds flying, cats leaping, and the American bison galloping at a time when the nation had nearly hunted the animal to extinction. His obsession with all manners of motion drove him to capture women lifting bedsheets, raising cigarettes to their lips, or the quasi-absurd, like in his series Crossing brook on step-stones with fishing-pole and can.

The series consists of 36 pictures taken from three angles, and it follows a woman as she raises her leg, hops onto a stone, then another, then hops off, all the while she holds a fishing pole in one hand and a can in the other, her arms bent like the wings of a bird. Artist have used this work to study motion. Edgar Degas, himself obsessed with the movement of dancers, studied photos like it. As did Marcel Duchamp, particularly in his 1912 painting, Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2, which became one of the most famous modernist paintings, and looks just like Muybridge’s photo series, Woman Walking Downstairs.
Eadweard Muybridge

Muybridge’s work at this time mimicked human curiosity. Machines had increasingly become part of life––trains, cars, and the factories of the Industrial Revolution––and soon people began to notice how their bodies resembled those machines. In Muybridge’s photos of the woman crossing the creek you can see her ankles, knees, shoulders, and elbows, rotating along their individual joints, but also in unison as her weight shifts to contract a muscle that pulls on one tendon and relaxes another, a repeating system of pulleys. This interested the University of Philadelphia for the potential insight it offered in the fields of sports, medicine, and physiology. It was there that Muybridge created more than 20,000 photos for his first book, Animal Locomotion. The Corcoran’s curator, Brookman, called the work a “veritable atlas of imagery about movement and time.”

The state charged Muybridge with murder for killing Larkyns. In closing arguments, Muybridge’s lawyer argued that “every fiber of a man's frame impels him to instant vengeance, and he will have it, if hell yawned before him the instant afterward.” The jury of mostly old and gray men seemed to agree, and the photographer was acquitted.

Muybridge and his wife divorced. She died five months later of an illness. And even though he’d given his son the middle name Helios—the same he signed his photos—he abandoned the child at an orphanage.What’s certain in the pictures is that a horse in gallop looks nothing like any artist ever imagined.

In 1877, Muybridge was back working for Stanford. By now, the racetrack on Stanford’s ranch had a photo shed that housed a bank of dozens of cameras. On the other side was an angled white wall, and in between them Muybridge spread white powdered lime on the dirt so the horse would pop out as it raced toward the cameras. In June 1878, Muybridge greeted reporters and told them to prepare for, as one writer would recall, a photographic feat that marked “an era in art.” A series of wires ran from the angled wall every 21 inches to the shed where they pulled triggers connected to an electrical circuit. This was the complex technology Muybridge had worked with Stanford’s engineers to develop––unimaginable just five years before. When the horse ran down the track it would trip the wires, pull the trigger that closed the electrical circuit, and release rubber springs loaded at 100 pounds of pressure that snapped the shutters closed at one-thousandth of a second. The reporters at the racetrack that day waited. Then Stanford’s horse galloped down the track, tripping the cameras lines, one after another.

Muybridge developed the film in front of reporters so there’d be no doubt he’d taken them that day. In one photo series from these experiments, called Sallie Gardner at a Gallop, all four hooves of the horse clearly leave the ground in the first four of 16 photos. What’s certain in the pictures is that a horse in gallop looks nothing like any artist ever imagined. Stanford would later meet with the French artist Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier––so famous at the time that The New York Times referred to him simply as, “the great artist Meissonier”––and asked him to draw a horse, then to draw that same horse in stride a foot later.

Dumfounded, Meissonier said, “I can’t do it.”

“And yet Meissonier many years ago drew the picture of a horse that would have irretrievably damned any other artist than himself,” the Times wrote.

Another reporter called Muybridge’s accomplishments with camera technologyas important as the phonograph and the telephone. But Muybridge’s legacy today is not what he wanted. Beginning with his first single-frame photographs of galloping horses, Muybridge had worked toward recording sequences of movement using dozens of cameras as a way to pause and reanimate motion. Now, we’d call that film. One year after the reporters watched the horse snap the camera lines on Stanford’s ranch, Muybridge developed the zoopraxiscope, the precursor to cinema.
Eadweard Muybridge

The machine used a glass disc spun around a projection lantern, and when Muybridge showed his photos of horses to people in 1880 at an exhibit in San Francisco, one reporter wrote that “nothing was wanting but the clatter of the hoofs upon the turf and an occasional breath of steam from the nostrils.”

The animated images lasted only a few seconds, and looked uncannily like a GIF. It’s nearly impossibly to view Muybridge’s work through a zoopraxiscope today, but since many of his photos have been turned into GIFs we can again see Muybridge’s art as he did.

In his photo grids an action begins and ends. But in constant, repeated motion, the action spills into a circle of infinite movement, as if the two naked blacksmithswill pound that anvil forever, or the couple will waltz together long past midnight.

There’s something mesmerizing and voyeuristic about Muybridge’s photos as GIFs, because it reveals the world as we see it in passing, but not as we understand its parts. And that is what Muybridge tried to do all his life. So it’s today that Muybridge has come perhaps the closest to being remembered as he wanted to be remembered—as the creator of early cinema.

At the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, Muybridge planned to give 300 lectures in his Zoopraxigraphical Hall, discussing his life’s work. The fair featured other inventions like the debut of the original Ferris Wheel, and the inventions of Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, who were both locked in their own war to be immortalized. Muybridge’s exhibit was a complete flop. Other minds had advanced upon his zoopraxiscope, and in two years an audience in France would watch a 46-second projection shot by the Lumière brothers of women leaving a factory. It was the first public screening of cinema. It had been just 18 years since Muybridge’s horse experiments, and already his work was something to be displayed in museums. A small stone in a path toward something greater.

That he is largely remembered for his work capturing the motion of horses is somewhat tragic. He had pushed photography to its uttermost limit, willed it to do what he wished, until it became something entirely new. But for some 40,000 years, man had tried to understand the unseeable motion in those four legs of the horse. Da Vinci, Meissonier, everyone had failed. Then came Muybridge with his cameras. Suddenly the horse’s back legs swing up in neat lines at the joints, the front legs reach forward, then curl inward and upward to the belly, first the left, then the right. And for a moment, thanks to Muybridge, the horse is airborne.

Is Virtual Reality The Future Of Porn?

Virtual reality (VR) porn; the inevitable conclusion of humanity’s advancement in technology. By all accounts, this twosome of primal biological urges and immersive high-tech gadgetry seems to have grabbed the world's curiosity.

The Adult VR Fest 01 in the Akihabara region of Tokyo was recently called off due to fears of overcrowding. This news was paired with data from Google Trends that showed that searches for VR porn have been up 10,000 percent since 2014.

But is this apparent fascination just nosiness at a gimmicky fad? Or is the world really queuing up to plug themselves into the Matrix and have it off with Siri? And, for self-pleasuring Luddites among us, what the hell even is VR porn?

Virtual reality itself has been a concept since the rise of computer’s got imaginations ticking in the early 20th century. But the “The Sword of Damocles” is commonly considered the first proper attempt at a virtual reality system, created in 1968 by computer scientist Ivan Sutherland. While he went to go on to invent the “revolutionary” computer program Sketchpad, the dreams of creating a viable virtual reality system somewhat stagnated over the decades. Numerous companies toyed with the ideas, but ultimately they were held back by a lack of technology.

But then around five years ago, technology appeared to catch up and a renaissance of virtual reality kicked off with the advent of commercially available VR headsets: Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive, Google Cardboard, and the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift.

A prototype of Ivan Sutherland's 1968 headset. Image credit: Pargon/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Sorry, science probably can't help you find love or sex

Sex and love are great. 

That's probably why the science of sex and love is so popular. I know it's popular because sometimes I write about it, and lots and lots of people read those stories.

Writing about these subjects is fun. There's a lot of weird science out there about how and why people hook up — for example, did you know that several studies suggest body odor plays a major role in attraction? That weirdness is a big part of why science journalists like to muck around in these areas.

But it probably won't shock you to know the other reason we (or at least, I) write these stories is because we know people will almost always read them. Finding science that's exciting, presenting it in a truthful, accessible, well-sourced way — that's the job.

But I worry, frankly, that people come to these stories for the wrong reasons. No science writer (or scientist) can provide you a rule book that's going to get you laid, wed, or anything in between.

A quick little story like "9 weird psychological reasons someone might fall in love with you," (if it's responsibly written) will round up the best available science on the subject, couch it in caveats about the limitations of that research, and not promise any results.

These aren't proven tricks. They're oddball results from just a few studies, in a field that's nowhere near well-enough understood to offer definitive answers. They're fun to read, and wonder about, but they're highly unlikely to offer some missing link to your dating life. That's not why they exist.

Small numbers of studies can't paint a picture of universal truths, because that's not how science works.

Rather, we should think of individual papers more like points on a paint-by-numbers board that's still filling in with dots. Some are more useful than others, but we need a whole constellation of them before we can make definitive statements about what they reveal. In the meantime, individual results can be confusing — and some flat-out wrong.

That doesn't mean science isn't valuable. In fields where the body of research is thick and well-understood, like mathematics or climate change, we can be as confident of its answers as we can anything in this world.

But the science of love and attraction is especially beset with noise. That's partly because its substrate, the mind and brain, are themselves not well understood. We don't really know why human being do small, daily things like yawning or laughing. So we're a long way off from definitive answers on complex, layered behaviors like going home together after a date or marrying and raising children.

And what research does exist on the subject is often sketchy, raising more questions than it answers.

A study can tell us that people tend to prefer partners who resemble their parents, but that's one data point in a vacuum. We don't know if it's universal and encoded in our genes, specific to some cultures or situations, or even definitively true without results that are reproduced several times.

On top of that, studies into sex and love (like many studies into human behavior) tend to focus on the practices of the subjects most available to researchers: their local population of college students. I don't know about you, but my thoughts and practices around sex and love look a lot different today than they did when I was 18. On top of that, the subjects and structure of the studies are way more straight, white, Western, and cisgender than the real world.

The most useful advice we can get from these studies tends to be obvious: Be open and engaging, be friendly, look for someone you who lives near you, and know that certain cultural markers of beauty might offer you some advantage.

But the fact is, while you can work on being a better version of yourself, you can't be anyone other than the person you are. Fortunately, human beings vary so widely that in all likelihood someone else out there will think you're pretty great. So keep reading the science — we're picking up a lot of interesting insights along the way — but go out into the world not worrying about it too deeply.

My husband died in 'glory' says widow of Spanish bullfighter Victor Barrio

Victor Barrio, who was gored to death by a bull on live television

Hundreds attend matador Victor Barrio's funeral.

The death of a Spanish matador who was gored by a bull live on Spanish television has reignited a national debate over bullfighting, as his wife said his passing was “unfair” and he had died in “glory”. 

Victor Barrio, 29, was gored in the thigh during a bullfight in the eastern town of Teruel on Saturday, before immediately then being gored in the chest. Although medics treated him by the bullring, they could not save his life. He is the first Spanish matador to die in the bullring since 1985.

On Sunday, Barrio’s widow, Raquel Sanz, thanked well-wishers for their support.

“Thanks to everyone,” she said. “I cannot reply to you, I have no words. My life has gone, I have no strength, although I have a lot of thanks.”

Even as tributes to Barrio poured in - with Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, tweeting his condolences - animal rights activists began to speak out against the Spanish tradition of bullfighting. Many directly attacked the matador.

“With one less murderer walking around, the rest of us can rest more easily,” said one comment under an article in the left-wing newspaper Público, by a reader named as Bender.

“There are few such absurd ways to lose your life,” said another, called Vivaercante.

The animal rights political party, PACMA, meanwhile, began a campaign to save the mother of Lorenzo, the bull which killed Barrio, and which is due to be slaughtered, as is the custom when a matador is fatally gored. “Bullfighting is thirst for blood,” the party tweeted.

Supporters of bullfighting supporters have hit back. “It doesn’t make you any more of an animal lover just because you’re happy at the death of a human,” said Frank Cuesta, a television presenter.

For centuries, the sport has been seen as part of the fabric of Spanish life, but opposition to bullfighting has been gaining ground in recent years, with opinion on the issue dividing along party political lines. 

Earlier this year, Podemos, the left-wing anti-austerity party, proposed a ban on bullfighting in the Balearic Islands, and the southern city of Cordoba stopped funding its annual fiestas. The Socialist mayor of Valencia, a major bullfighting city, sparked uproar by suggesting that bulls should no longer be killed during Spanish bullfights, as is the tradition in Portugal. 

In 2012, Catalan nationalists outlawed bullfighting in their region. A poll taken by Ipsos MORI in December 2015 showed that only 19 per cent of Spaniards aged between 16 and 65 were in favour of bullfighting, down from 30 per cent just three years earlier.

Ms Sanz, the widow, is a local politician in the town of Sepulveda for the conservative Popular Party (PP), which staunchly supports bullfighting.

In an emotional message last night, she said that life was “unfair” and posted a poem by the Spanish writer, Jose Leon, which ended with the words: “How I would love to believe that there is glory for all those who lose their lives on the horns of bulls.”

What are the most visited tourist attractions in cities around the world?

We round up the most popular tourist attractions to visit or, if you hate tourists, to avoid.

With more holidays approaching, families won’t all celebrate at home, like a Norman Rockwell painting. Hordes are hopping onto planes, trains and buses to play tourist all over the world, using breaks from daily obligations to relax on a beach or check out some ancient ruins.

Where to, though? Hopes&Fears compiled a list of the top tourist attractions to visit in cities around the world or, if you hate tourists, to avoid.

Note: Statista conveniently keeps track of the most visited attractions worldwide via Love Home Swap. We drew from the most recent rankings. This isn’t a list of the most visited sites in the world - we chose cities and found their most visited site, though these were all near the top. Some metropolises, like New York, have multiple tourist attractions which fared well in this list, but we went with only the top site for each city as a benchmark to put the cities in order from least visitors to most.

12. Sydney Opera House

Sydney, Australia

8,200,000 Visitors per year

The soaring white sails protruding from the Sydney Opera House’s base make for a familiar landmark. It’s safe to say that the Sydney Opera House is the focal point of the harbor and it’s an iconic building that’s won acclaim for its architectural design. But that’s after a fair share of drama over the opera house’s construction, which ended up taking 16 years and was hotly debated. The big challenge became how to make those roof sails work. In the end, it took a specially developed process; one million tiles were ceramically fired at a factory to achieve a glass-like finish and then bonded to the superstructure beneath.

The result is that the opera house is one of the busiest music venues of its kind anywhere, staging up to 2,500 performances annually. Its other claim to fame is that renowned black film actor Paul Robeson is said to have climbed onto the scaffolding during construction to sing to the workers.
11. The Zocalo

Mexico City, Mexico

10,000,000 Visitors per year

Once the main center of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, the Zocalo’s official name is the Plaza de la Constitucion and it remains the main square of Mexico City. In each direction, it’s 240 meters, which is why it takes up an entire city block and is among the largest squares in the world. Bullfighting used to go on in the area. Now, people gather there for civic and cultural events, parades, festivals, and rallies. The huge Mexican flag that flies smack in the middle of the Zocalo is ceremonially raised at eight in the morning by soldiers of the Mexican army, and then lowered each evening at six.

Famous performers also have been a part of the square. Paul McCartney, in 2012, gave a free concert here to 250,000 anxious fans, and Justin Bieber, that same year, performed to 200,000 Beliebers. Five years prior, photo artist Spencer Tunick did something more unusual, when he filled the Zocalo with 18,000 nude Mexicans.
10. Pike Place Market

Seattle, US

10,000,000 Visitors per year

Seattle’s Pike Place Market began with eight farmers total. Tired of dealing with price-gouging middlemen, the small crew of farmers decided to sell their goods directly to consumers and the market was born. Fishmongers were not playfully throwing salmon around at that point, but the market kept growing and expanding until 1922 when it started to take its present-day shape: 11 buildings along the Washington city’s waterfront housing 500 shops, vendor stalls and restaurants.

The flagship Starbucks opened as part of the market back in 1971. More recently, Rachel the Pig, a 550-pound bronze piggy bank, has become a go-to photo opp. And last month the hot story was that Pike Place’s famed gum wall, which is exactly like how it sounds, was finally—after 20 years—deep cleaned, removing about 1 million wads of gum.
9. Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade

Hong Kong, China

10,009,000 Visitors per year

Extending from the Clock Tower to Hung Hom in the thick of Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui is an urban area in southern Kowloon, with the highest concentration of hotels in all of the city. High-end shops, restaurants, and museums also make the waterfront region a big draw.

The Avenue of Stars, a beloved component of the waterfront, is a sidewalk on the shore of Hong Kong’s Victoria Bay modeled after the Hollywood Walk of Fame and showcasing the handprints and signatures of famous Hong Kong actors like Jackie Chan. It stretches for about 440 meters along the shoreline.
8. Golden Gate Park

San Francisco, US

13,000,000 Visitors per year

Central Park was the inspiration for Golden Gate Park, only the West Coast version is actually 20 percent larger, stretching more than three miles long and a half mile wide—over 1,000 acres. Dating back to the 1860s, the reasoning was that as San Francisco became more built-up, residents needed an open space to stretch their legs.

The result isn’t so much one park as a collection of gardens and buildings that showcase the culture of the Bay Area. In one portion, a small herd of American bison, who are cared for by San Francisco Zoo staff, roam freely. The National AIDS Memorial Grove has been an official memorial since 1996, with dedicated space where visitors can reflect on those who have fallen victim to HIV and AIDS. And the park’s Japanese Tea Garden is the oldest one in the United States. A Japanese immigrant named Makoto Hagiwara was the driving force behind the garden and its official caretaker for 30 years. A plaque and the street on which the garden sits are named in his honor.
7. Notre Dame Cathedral

Paris, France

13,650,000 Visitors per year

It’d be fair to assume that the Eiffel Tower would be the Michael Jordan of tourist attractions in the City of Lights, but Notre Dame, one of the very first Gothic cathedrals, holds that honor. Construction of the 420-foot long structure began in the 12th century and didn’t end until a staggering 300 years later. The sheer amount of time is why so many architectural styles—from French Gothic to Naturalism to Renaissance—are incorporated into the building.

Over the years, and especially during the French Revolution, the cathedral sustained damage. A makeover didn’t come until the release of the most famous byproduct of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo’s book centered on a lonely hunchback. When the work was published, it’s said that Parisians came to realize that the cathedral was worth sprucing up.

Paris, by the way, is also home to three other monumental tourist attractions that don’t receive quite as many visitors, albeit still a healthy number. The Sacre Coeur gets 10.5 million a year, the Louvre 9.2 million and the Eiffel Tower 7 million annual guests.
6. Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo, Japan

14,850,000 Visitors per year

The most recently opened attraction to make the list, Japan’s Disney theme park is not terribly different from its sister parks in the United States and elsewhere in the world, except for cries from Trip Advisor and other travel sites proclaiming how crowded it gets. Tokyo Disneyland was the first Disney park to open outside of the U.S. and, among its rides and themed areas, it has four classic Disney lands to its name: Adventureland, Westernland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. It also possesses the distinction of being the most profitable park of the Disney bunch. It’s believed that the park’s success is due to opening at the exact right time, in the height of an economic boom, and in the exact right place, in the middle of a 30 million-person metro area.
5. Grand Bazaar

Istanbul, Turkey

15,000,000 Visitors per year

It’s been called the oldest covered market across the globe. The Grand Bazaar is also an economic engine in Istanbul, employing a reported 30,000 people who work in what some say amounts to 4,000 shops. The bazaar was commissioned by Mehmet II immediately after the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1453 and is entirely built of stone and brick. At one point there were five mosques amidst the shops, now there’s only one. Countless blogs give tips on how to conquer the market or to get through it without being robbed or overcharged—it’s that daunting and overwhelming.
4. Forbidden City

Beijing, China

15,300,000 Visitors per year

Altogether 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties lived in Beijing’s Forbidden City, so for most of its history it was inaccessible to the likes of average citizens. A 10-meter high wall encircles the city, along with watchtowers and a moat. In other words, what’s inside is precious and impossibly unique. The grand palace inside these 115-acre grounds is a replica of the Purple Palace where God was thought to live in Heaven. And inside there are precisely 9,999 rooms.
3. Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Boston, US

18,000,000 Visitors per year

If it’s good enough for Samuel Adams and other influential early Americans to give inspirational speeches, it can’t be a wasted stop. When Boston became a full-fledged city, the marketplace at Faneuil Hall stopped being used as a government meeting place and transformed into what it is now—a place to buy edible goods from 49 shops, 18 pubs and restaurants and 44 pushcarts. The fourth floor, still, is maintained by the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company and every July 4, the Declaration of Independence is read from the balcony. There’s simply no escaping the marketplace’s historical roots. There, George Washington toasted the new nation on its first birthday, and the doctrine of “no taxation without representation” was established.
2. Times Square

New York, US

39,200,000 Visitors per year

New Year’s is when all eyes are on Times Square for the ball drop, which has been going strong as a tradition for more than a century. All year round, though, this commercial intersection is bustling with eye-popping ads, lights, and wall-to-wall tourists. Formerly called Longacre Square, the name change happened when the New York Times moved into the neighborhood. As Longacre Square, the area was a site for a horse exchange, drab apartments and carriages. Then, following the Great Depression, seedier times prevailed as grinder houses, showing sexually explicit films, took over the area around the square.

After mayor Rudy Giuliani cleaned up the city and Broadway moved in, the square now has more in common with a theme park than a representation of the city’s past.
1. Vegas Strip

Las Vegas, US

39,670,000 Visitors per year

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, they say. But clearly Nevada’s flashiest, most gambling-friendly city is not keeping to itself. From Swingers to The Hangover, Sin City is the backdrop for dozens of movies, and the Strip is usually the specific playground for the characters’ antics.

It was the 1930s when the three-mile stretch of hotels, casinos, and nightspots, first became a concept, just after Nevada became the first state to legalize casino-style gambling. By the 1950s—given the influence of pop culture phenomenon like Elvis—the area exploded to 1,800 hotel rooms. At that point, a decent room ran for $7.50 a day. Now, it’s not uncommon to shell out $300 a night. The most surprising fact about the Vegas Strip, though, just might be what it’s not: within the Las Vegas city limits. Technically, it falls under Clark County jurisdiction.

Don't Be Fooled by High-Megapixel Cameras

Three weeks ago, Hasselblad unveiled a new mirrorless medium-format camera called the X1D. Given the price (nearly $9,000—for the body alone)‚ it's not a purchase the average consumer will likely make, but truth be told, it was not the high cost that caught my eye, but rather the X1D's 50-megapixel sensor.

Over the years, camera manufacturers, and more recently smartphone makers, have been known to make a fuss over megapixel counts, which are used to measure resolution, slyly implying that they result in awesome pictures.

Those of us familiar with how the technology actually works like to call it the megapixel myth: Because high resolution doesn't necessarily equal high-quality images. In fact, megapixels are but one part of the performance equation.

What are the other factors? For starters, consider the camera's most conspicuous feature: With an exceptional lens, you can capture sharp details and contrasting shades of color, while avoiding the distortion issues that degrade photo quality. A well-constructed lens will prevent vignetting, for example, which leaves you with dark, cloudy images in the corners of your photos.

The camera's image sensor is another crucial factor. The larger its size, the bigger each individual receptor can be. And that often results in better performance in low-light conditions.

For further proof of the megapixel myth, here are four cameras that excelled in our labs despite offering 24 megapixels or less.

Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II, $650:This advanced point-and-shoot—one of the highest scoring cameras in our Ratings (SLR and mirrorless models included)—takes excellent quality photos and excellent quality video. And yet, it has just 13 megapixels.

Nikon D7200, $1,400: There's lots to love about this powerful SLR, which scored only a few points below the Canon point-and-shoot in our Ratings with less than twice the megapixels (24 to be exact). Between its simple auto settings and its highly specialized modes, it gives you lots of control without overcomplicating things. It delivers very good photos and excellent video. And it comes with two memory cards, two memory slots, and built-in Wi-Fi, complete with Near Field Communication for easy pairing with your smartphone.

Nikon D750, $2,300: Powerful and, yes, pricey, this 24-megapixel SLR features what’s known as a full-frame sensor. That means it's the same size as a frame of 35mm film, thus granting you image quality comparable to the esteemed 35mm film cameras of the past. In our tests, it produced excellent quality flash photos and ably handled a wide variety of lighting situations. It has built-in Wi-Fi, an excellent (and spacious) liquid crystal display, and fires off 6.5 frames per second in burst mode.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4, $2,200: This 16-megapixel model can capture Ultra HD video at 30 frames per second and fire off 12 photo frames per second in burst mode. It has an excellent quality swiveling touch-screen LCD, excellent controls, and an excellent electronic viewfinder. It’s also one of the few models to capture excellent quality video in our tests. (Notice a trend?) It comes with built-in Wi-Fi and Near Field Communication.

Gorgeous Photographs of the Milky Way in Bolivia

When he visited Bolivia and more precisely the Salar de Uyuni, which is the largest salt desert in the world, the photographer Daniel Kordan had the opportunity to catch a few surrealist instants. 

In the series of pictures that the artist published, the milky way reflects on the ground and creates a captivating and poetic atmosphere.

"One of the best expedition days is the last one. But this exact day was fantastic. We droped down to the Ocean from Altiplano, 4000 meters in one day! I recall this moment, when I stood at the sea and hungrily breath the fresh moisture air of the ocean. Especially it was wonderful to realize that the longest way is just behind, with so many adventures! My brain erased all the difficulties: high altitude, cold nights... Only amazing impressions left: Altiplano inredible night sky, thousands of flamingo above the Colorada lagoon, night flooded mirror of Uyuni and tall volcanoes of Atacama.
Our adventure has come to an end, and I am ready to share with you my impressions. "

Youthful fantasies on the beaches of Montauk

New York City-based photographer Michael Dweck remembers vividly the time he went to Montauk at the age of seventeen. It was 1975, and there was the sand, the surf, and girls who, in his words, “looked, well, like they didn’t belong on Long Island.” Visiting Montauk was like falling in love for the first time a thousand times, and he would return to the beach some thirty years later, publishing his book The End in 2004.

The End sold out in just a few weeks when it was first released by Abrams, but a new 10th Anniversary Limited Art Edition is set to release this month, with additional images and an original silver gelatin print by Dweck included.

The impetus for Dweck, he writes in the book’s original introduction, was always to “record something before it faded away.” Montauk was its own special kind of Never Never Land, where life was spent barefoot and the doors were never locked at night. When spent the summer there in the 2000s, his wife and kids in toe, the photographer did feel the tug of apprehension; in celebrating this sequestered place, he feared laying it bare to the world.

Despite his protective, almost paternal feelings for Montauk, the waves and the sunlight beckoned Dweck to the shores. “Always, I was the outsider,” he says wistfully of the community, and he didn’t truly feel a part of it until nearly three decades spent with the locals. Indeed, there’s a longing here in his photographs, a kind of intense attachment to a place and its people that comes with both wanting and never truly possessing them.

Dweck, for his part, is conscious of his own nostalgia and the ways in which he’s rhapsodized Montauk. “Montauk will never be Montauk again, but it will never be anything else either,” he writes in the new introduction. In this way, The End comes not only to mean The East End of Long Island but the end of something more elusive, whether it’s youth, indulgence, sweet summer flings, or all of the above.

Find The End here.