Why don’t our brains explode when we watch movies?
Self-sacrifice is the ultimate irrationality: what motivates it?
Could we reboot a modern civilisation without fossil fuels?
An interview with a conscientious objector
Throughout evolutionary history, we never saw anything like a montage. So why do we hardly notice the cuts in movies?
The martyr is not an alienated and depressed loner but an individual driven by idealism, altruism and the need to belong
Out of the ashes
It took a lot of fossil fuels to forge our industrial world. Now they're almost gone. Could we do it again without them?
A conscientious objector
Jacob Bridge is a popular lieutenant in the US Marines who woke up one day with an urgent need to leave the military. Why?
Life in the dark
In the dark corners of our galaxy, there are billions of rogue planets roaming around, starless — can they support life?
Into the mystic
From Stonehenge to Silicon Valley: how technology nurtured New Age ideas in a world supposedly stripped of its magic
A sense of Chuck
In memory of Charles Bowden, hard-nosed reporter and avid sensualist, who loved every sight, feel and sip of being alive
Save the Universe
It is only a matter of time before our Universe goes black, cold and dies. Must this be the end of the road for life?
Imagining the Anthropocene
The Anthropocene idea has been embraced by Earth scientists and English professors alike. But how useful is it?
Robots came to Europe before the dawn of the mechanical age. To a medieval world, they were indistinguishable from magic
Would telepathy help?
Will the next generation of telepathy machines make us closer, or are there unforeseen dangers in the melding of minds?
Dementia undermines all of our philosophical assumptions about the coherence of the self. But that might be a good thing
Once and future sins
In 2115, when our descendants look back at our society, what will they condemn as our greatest moral failing?
The stigma of depression is lifting on social media, so if suicide is signalled in your newsfeed, should you intervene?
How to design the future
As technological choices become ever more complex, design fiction, not science, hints at the future we actually want
Inside the mind of God
Punitive Big Brother; cosmic petty-thief-catcher; vigilant landlord. Why is God so interested in bad behaviour?
Like a prayer
Even secular people need time out to meditate, reflect, and give thanks. Is prayer the answer?
It seemed Darwin had banished biological essences – yet evolution would fail without nature’s library of Platonic forms
Why do some people believe conspiracy theories? It’s not just who or what they know. It’s a matter of intellectual character
For all the smart tech, we still feel pressed for time. Are digital services the problem, or are we humans to blame?
The genius and hubris of plastic has been absorbed by every living thing. Is it a curse or evolution’s next step?
To tip or not to tip?
Rude in Tokyo, rude not to in New York – tipping mystifies tourists, economists and anthropologists. Should we stop?
How luck works
You’re at the casino and you win big – a lucky fluke, divine intervention or inner smarts? The answer’s against the odds
Method and madness
Theatre provides stimulus for psychotic, schizophrenic and depressed patients, but can it improve their mental health?
In Japan, beetles are pets, grasshoppers a delicacy and fireflies are adored. Is the creepy-crawly a Western invention?
Get under the hood
Our laptops are sleek and polished. Our operating systems are fluid and intuitive. Computing is easy and that’s a problem
The elastic brain
A child’s brain can master anything from language to music. Can neuroscience extend that genius across the lifespan?
Can God lie?
Until the Scientific Revolution, God’s power included a licence to deceive. How did science make an honest man of Him?