The obesity era
As the American people got fatter, so did marmosets, vervet monkeys and mice. The problem may be bigger than any of us
Elon Musk argues that we must put a million people on Mars if we are to ensure that humanity has a future
The play deficit
Children today are cossetted and pressured in equal measure. Without the freedom to play they will never grow up
Are coders worth it?
In today’s world, web developers have it all: money, perks, freedom, respect. But is there value in what we do?
Mistresses are big business in China, where no official is a real man without his own ernai. What’s in it for the girls?
How the light gets out
Consciousness is the ‘hard problem’, the one that confounds science and philosophy. Has a new theory cracked it?
Beyond true and false
Buddhist philosophy is full of contradictions. Now modern logic is learning why that might be a good thing
An inconvenient child
My six-year-old son was suspended as a danger to others. His crime? A disability you could find in any classroom
The golden quarter
Some of our greatest cultural and technological achievements took place between 1945 and 1971. Why has progress stalled?
People once woke up halfway through the night to think, write or make love. What have we lost by sleeping straight through?
Indifference is a power
As legions of warriors and prisoners can attest, Stoicism is not grim resolve but a way to wrest happiness from adversity
The reality show
Schizophrenics used to see demons and spirits. Now they talk about actors and hidden cameras – and make a lot of sense
One more time
Why do we listen to our favourite music over and over again? Because repeated sounds work magic in our brains
Master of many trades
Our age reveres the specialist but humans are natural polymaths, at our best when we turn our minds to many things
The end of sleep?
New technologies are emerging that could radically reduce our need to sleep - if we can bear to use them
A theory of jerks
Are you surrounded by fools? Are you the only reasonable person around? Then maybe you’re the one with the jerkitude
When we peer into the fog of the deep future what do we see – human extinction or a future among the stars?
Die, selfish gene, die
For decades, the selfish gene metaphor let us view evolution with new clarity. Is it now blinding us?
Lock up your wives!
Advice columns from decades past provide a chilling glimpse into the horrors of marriage counselling before feminism
If you have a mouthful of teeth shaped by a childhood in poverty, don’t go knocking on the door of American privilege
War in the womb
A ferocious biological struggle between mother and baby belies any sentimental ideas we might have about pregnancy
The meanings of life
Happiness is not the same as a sense of meaning. How do we go about finding a meaningful life, not just a happy one?
Does life have a purpose?
Nobody expects atoms and molecules to have purposes, so why do we still think of living things in this way?
The invasion of America
The story of Native American dispossession is too easily swept aside, but new visualisations should make it unforgettable
Chinese parents bemoan their children’s laziness and greed, but this generation of young people has had enough
Is this life real?
Philosophers and physicists say we might be living in a computer simulation, but how can we tell? And does it matter?
The very laws of physics imply that artificial intelligence must be possible. What’s holding us up?
For decades, the idea of a language instinct has dominated linguistics. It is simple, powerful and completely wrong
Bullying doctors are not just unpleasant, they are dangerous. Can we change the culture of intimidation in our hospitals?
Our quantum problem
When the deepest theory we have seems to undermine science itself, some kind of collapse looks inevitable