Are we alone?
The universe seems to be bursting with planets, and this is profoundly important — but not in the way we might expect
Dolphins are not healers
Dolphins are smart, sociable predators. They don't belong in captivity and they shouldn't be used to 'cure' the ill
Hod Lipson’s artificial organisms have already escaped from the virtual realm. Now he wants to send them out of control
In places once thick with farms and cities, human dispossession and war has cleared the ground for nature to return
Heady with beauty, in cherry tree season Japan celebrates environmental values that Western greens have lost
The Equator once marked the edge of the civilised world. If we put it at the centre, we might see our place in the heavens
Splendid no more
America's national parks are overrun with cars and visitors – what happened to the spirit of wilderness preservation?
Environmental activists have been jailed, persecuted and spied on. What fuels such an absolute commitment to a cause?
Figurines, fishers, bugs and bats – how things in the world become sacred objects in a museum
In the dark
Dark matter is the commonest, most elusive stuff there is. Can we grasp this great unsolved problem in physics?
Living in space was meant to be our next evolutionary step. What happened to the dream of the final frontier?
Things genes can’t do
Simplistic ideas of how genes ‘cause’ traits are no longer viable: life is an orderly collection of uncertainties
Blue sky thinking
Geoengineers are would-be deities who dream of mastering the heavens. But are humans the ones who are out of control?
Humans have been breeding animals for beauty for centuries. But should we draw the line at genetically modified pets?
A flowered planet
For all their intricate symbolic force, from the Paleolithic to today's herbalism, plants are still a deep mystery to us
Walking on oil
East Africa is the world's latest hotspot for oil and gas exploration. Will this be a boon or a curse in arid Turkana?
The ecology of Pooh
Adults may feel exiled from the intensity and sweetness of childhood places. But perhaps there are surprising ways home
Nest of spies
The cuckoo is both an icon of Englishness and a symbol of suspicion and deceit — a perfect pet for an MI5 officer, then
The ache for immortality
The Voyager probes speed on with their messages of humility and greatness, strange memorials to a spacefaring age
The discovery of a microscopic world shook the foundations of theology and created modern demons
Not just a pretty boy
Intelligent, devoted, alien – parrots are unlike any other pet. But what does the complex human-avian bond say about us?
‘At times it returns, in the motionless calm of the day, that memory of living immersed, absorbed, in the stunned light’
The vegans have landed
A dominant species is a dominant species. If you really care about animal rights, vegan ethics don't go far enough
This world is enough
For the first time in history we could end poverty while protecting the global environment. But do we have the will?
Is there life on Mars?
Our curiosity about the Red Planet has always been tinged with fantasy – but wishful thinking needn’t be mistaken
We came to know air indirectly, by its visible signs. The stuff itself is as elusive as the atmosphere of a gothic novel
A binding light
Laser beams can tie themselves in knots, just like electrical cords. But what does this tendency to tangle illuminate?
Raining like a mountain
Electric fences are going up around Kenya's forested mountaintops. Is this the only way to keep Africa's water flowing?
What life wants
Dead matter has no goals of its own, yet life is constantly striving. That makes it a deep puzzle for physics
Down on the farms
Badgers may be collateral victims in the battle to rid British cows of tuberculosis, but so are the farmers themselves