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Abstract art depicting DNA sequencing, with vertical bands of vibrant colours including yellow, red, blue and green, blending into each other with a glossy, reflective texture.

We are not machines

Welcome to the new, post-genomic biology: a transformative era in need of fresh metaphors to understand how life works

Silhouette of a man, a child, and a cow with large horns sitting on the ground at sunset.
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Progress and modernity

In praise of magical thinking

Once we all had knowledge of how to heal ourselves using plants and animals. The future would be sweeter for renewing it

Anna Badkhen

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Technology and the self

How the magic of photography brought Victorian England closer to the spirit realm

16 minutes

Illustration of various human skulls and profiles with captions detailing different ethnic groups and regions, from a historical anthropological study.
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History of ideas

Baffled by human diversity

Confused 17th-century Europeans argued that human groups were separately created, a precursor to racist thought today

Jacob Zellmer

Close-up of a dog with blue and brown eyes, grey and white fur, looking directly at the camera.
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Neuroscience

Dog vision is a trendy topic, but what can we really know about how they see?

11 minutes

Aerial view of concentric snow tracks around a phone booth and street light. The artist walks in circles away from the center, dragging a suitcase behind her.
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Home

An artist endeavours to bring the Moon down to Earth in a ritual of yearning

5 minutes

Ancient Mayan ruins, including a prominent stone pyramid, surrounded by dense green jungle under a cloudy sky.
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Archaeology

Beyond kingdoms and empires

A revolution in archaeology is transforming our picture of past populations and the scope of human freedoms

David Wengrow

Yellow warning sign with a black palm tree bent over in strong wind, signifying severe weather or wind conditions.
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Information and communication

An animation built from road signs is a whirlwind study of flash communication

2 minutes

Black and white photo of people sitting at a café, taken through a window with reflections. A sign saying ‘BUFFET FROID’ is visible.
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Meaning and the good life

Philosophy was once alive

I was searching for meaning and purpose so I became an academic philosopher. Reader, you might guess what happened next

Pranay Sanklecha

Microscopic view of various microorganisms and particles in a blue liquid, showing a large oval-shaped microorganism amidst smaller particles.
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Biology

An elegy for a dying microbe explores what we really mean by ‘death’

9 minutes

Painting of a riverside scene with a large windmill, boats on the water, and three women standing on the bank next to a dock, under cloudy sky.
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History of technology

Learning to love monsters

Windmills were once just machines on the land but now seem delightfully bucolic. Could wind turbines win us over too?

Stephen Case

Painting of two clothed men and a naked woman picnicking in a forest, with another woman in the background near a pond.
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Art

Creating art that was aware of itself – and the viewer – made Manet the first modernist

15 minutes

A young girl in a pink dress stands on a step, holding the hand of an adult. Four adults are partially visible around her.
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Biography and memoir

The adoption paradox

Even happy families cannot avoid the reality – my reality – that adoption is predicated on transacting the life of a child

Fiona Sampson

Painting of a person in a striped dress, resting their head on their hand, sitting next to a table with bottles, and a green background.
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Pleasure and pain

Me versus myself

I work against myself through procrastination, distraction and addiction. Why do I consistently sabotage my own life?

Eliane Glaser

Split image showing two types of coral, a hard coral on the left and a soft coral with tentacles on the right, both in deep blue light.
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Biotechnology

It’s our responsibility to engineer corals that can weather the world we’ve created

11 minutes

President Eisenhower and Kwame Nkrumah talking. Nkrumah is wearing traditional African attire and pointing at Eisenhower, who is wearing a suit.
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Global history

The route to progress

Anticolonial modernity was founded upon the fight for liberation from communists, capitalists and imperialists alike

Frank Gerits

Abstract black-and-white image featuring a spherical shape at the centre surrounded by an intricate web of swirling, crisscrossing lines, creating a three-dimensional effect. The background is dark, enhancing the contrast and emphasising the white lines and central sphere.
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Physics

Imagining spacetime as a visible grid is an extraordinary journey into the unseen

12 minutes

Handwritten notes in black ink on an open notebook, with red and black corrections.
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Thinkers and theories

Paper trails

Husserl’s well-tended archive has given him a rich afterlife, while Nietzsche’s was distorted by his axe-grinding sister

Peter Salmon

Silhouette of a soldier with glowing eyes and helmet, holding a rifle, with a blurred, colourful background.
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War and peace

A century later, can poetry help us make sense of the First World War’s horrors?

9 minutes

Medieval manuscript illustration of a goat and a person holding a disc, with gold circles in the background, surrounded by text in Latin script.
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Philosophy of mind

The problem of erring animals

Three medieval thinkers struggled to explain how animals could make mistakes – and uncovered the nature of nonhuman minds

Sam Alma

Elderly couple holding hands while standing in the street. The woman holds a colourful fan partially covering her face. A man in casual attire walks by on the right. Two trees and a white building with large windows are in the background, with three people looking out of one of the windows.
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Ethics

Moral progress is annoying

You might feel you can trust your gut to tell right from wrong, but the friction of social change shows that you can’t

Daniel Kelly & Evan Westra

Illustration of two people high-fiving, with colourful abstract shapes around them representing conversation and connection.
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Language and linguistics

The little Peruvian guide to public speaking that conjures up a grandiose world

7 minutes

Black and white photograph depicts a flood with rising water levels in a residential area. Strong currents and waves are visible, and houses in the background are partially submerged. Floodwater covers much of the landscape, with a lone tree and partial wooden structure in the foreground.
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The future

The disruption nexus

Moments of crisis, such as our own, are great opportunities for historic change, but only under highly specific conditions

Roman Krznaric

Bright yellow bird building a nest with grass on a branch surrounded by green leaves.
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Engineering

For one of nature’s great builders, finding a mate means weaving the perfect nest

4 minutes

Image of M87 galaxy showing a bright yellowish central core with a jet of blue plasma extending outward into space. The background is filled with faint stars and a hazy, brownish hue
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History of science

His radiant formula

Stephen Hawking’s greatest legacy – a simple little equation now 50 years old – revealed a shocking aspect of black holes

Roger Highfield