How new brain implants can restore and enhance free will
Elon Musk puts his case for a multi-planet civilisation
The feedback loop is a better symbol of life than the helix
In a secular age, what does it mean to die a good death?
The free-will fix
New brain implants can restore autonomy to damaged minds, but can they settle the question of whether free will exists?
Elon Musk argues that we must put a million people on Mars if we are to ensure that humanity has a future
A closed loop
The DNA helix gave 20th-century biology its symbol. But the more we learn, the more life circles back to an older image
The good death
It’s a modern dream that we can plan a good and peaceful death but what can we really do to meet the end of all we are?
The other half
To end inequality, we must realise that it isn’t about the rich, it’s about the poor. And we know almost nothing about them
Not so foolish
We are told that we are an irrational tangle of biases, to be nudged any which way. Does this claim stand to reason?
Trial by fire
From fire-walking to the ice-bucket challenge, ritual pain and suffering forge intense social bonds
Vera Holland, Ted Alkemade
Earth is not a garden
Some of the world’s most powerful conservationists are giving up on wilderness. They are making a big mistake
The calculus of contagion
In the battle against disease, the difference between a raging epidemic and a passing fever comes down to a single number
Runs in the family
Cricketing dynasties seem to imply that talent is genetic. Yet the evidence from other sports queers the pitch
The Grand Tour, 2.0
Can today’s travel deliver on the promise of the Grand Tour – or is the idea of edifying travel utterly bankrupt?
The humanitarian future
Can humanitarian agencies still fly the flag of high principle, or are they just relics of an imperial model of charity?
The first cut
Most American boys are circumcised as a matter of course. Now, many of them feel violated. Should the practice be banned?
Lock up your wives!
Advice columns from decades past provide a chilling glimpse into the horrors of marriage counselling before feminism
Humans are wired for bad news, angry faces and sad memories. Is this negativity bias useful or something to overcome?
Predictive policing could help prevent crime. But do we want a future where computer oracles and spies track us from birth?
When the storyline of one’s life hits a dead end, a redemption narrative offers an alluring, if dubious, transformation
Do individuals have a right for their medical records to remain private after death, or can public interest prevail?
The US gun lobby claims that guns save lives and keep us safe from criminals – what do social scientists say?
Flora Lichtman, Sharon Shattuck
From teen-targeting vampires to Lady Báthory’s bloodbaths, we love stories of stolen youth. What if it were possible?
Life doesn’t make trash
A genome is not a blueprint for building a human being, so is there any way to judge whether DNA is junk or not?
How plagues really work
The next pandemic will erupt, not from the jungle, but from the disease factories of hospitals, refugee camps and cities
Reading Howl in China
My generation, once impassioned by the Western literature of rebellion, is now lulled by ‘Wealthy Socialism’
About a boy
Movies and memoirs give us a romantic view of living with a child with Asperger’s but the reality is very different
A second hurricane is battering New Orleans, this time it is an HIV catastrophe whipped up by prejudice and poverty
The first smile
Why do laughter, smiles and tears look so similar? Perhaps because they all evolved from a single root
The god effect
Religion spawns both benevolent saints and murderous fanatics. Could dopamine levels in the brain drive that switch?
The cochlear switch
And so I entered a new world where every tap, squeak, clang, whisper and consonant exploded and sizzled inside my head