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How to make a map of smell

We can split light by a prism, sounds by tones, but surely the world of odour is too complex and personal? Strangely, no

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Religion

Conscientious unbelievers

How, a century ago, radical freethinkers quietly and persistently subverted Scotland’s Christian establishment

Felicity Loughlin

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Astronomy

The history of astronomy is a history of conjuring intelligent life where it isn’t

34 minutes

An oversized yellow plastic revolver gun displayed outside a brightly painted shop. There are palm trees in the background
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History of technology

Why America fell for guns

The US today has extraordinary levels of gun ownership. But to see this as a venerable tradition is to misread history

Megan Kang

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Politics and government

How it looked to Afghan women to see the Taliban return to power

33 minutes

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Love and friendship

Love looks a bit different for a chain-smoking couple in a small apartment

11 minutes

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Psychiatry and psychotherapy

The therapist who hated me

Going to a child psychoanalyst four times a week for three years was bad enough. Reading what she wrote about me was worse

Michael Bacon

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Consciousness and altered states

A reader’s guide to microdosing

How to use small doses of psychedelics to lift your mood, enhance your focus, and fire your creativity

Tunde Aideyan

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Metaphysics

Simple entities in universal harmony – Leibniz’s evocative perspective on reality

4 minutes

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Ethics

The scourge of lookism

It is time to take seriously the painful consequences of appearance discrimination in the workplace

Andrew Mason

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Biography and memoir

Passed over as the first Black astronaut, Ed Dwight carved out an impressive second act

13 minutes

A street intersection; a wall is painted with the word Soulsville in large letters with peeling paint
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Economic history

The southern gap

In the American South, an oligarchy of planters enriched itself through slavery. Pervasive underdevelopment is their legacy

Keri Leigh Merritt

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The ancient world

The six priestesses who kept the flame of ancient Rome alight at risk of death

5 minutes

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Thinkers and theories

Our tools shape our selves

For Bernard Stiegler, a visionary philosopher of our digital age, technics is the defining feature of human experience

Bryan Norton

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Engineering

A close-up look at electronic paper reveals its exquisite patterns – and limitations

9 minutes

Artwork depicting a family group composed of angular lines and triangles, some but not all coloured, on a paper background
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Family life

A patchwork family

After my marriage failed, I strove to create a new family – one made beautiful by the loving way it’s stitched together

Lily Dunn

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Architecture

West Africa was once an architectural laboratory. Is it time for a revival?

12 minutes

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Biology

The cell is not a factory

Scientific narratives project social hierarchies onto nature. That’s why we need better metaphors to describe cellular life

Charudatta Navare

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Work

A Swedish expat in the Philippines wonders: what’s up with people sleeping at work?

14 minutes

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Stories and literature

Terrifying vistas of reality

H P Lovecraft, the master of cosmic horror stories, was a philosopher who believed in the total insignificance of humanity

Sam Woodward

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Bioethics

The dangers of AI farming

AI could lead to new ways for people to abuse animals for financial gain. That’s why we need strong ethical guidelines

Virginie Simoneau-Gilbert & Jonathan Birch

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Biography and memoir

The unique life philosophy of Abdi, born in Somalia, living in the Netherlands

29 minutes

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Thinkers and theories

A man beyond categories

Paul Tillich was a religious socialist and a profoundly subtle theologian who placed doubt at the centre of his thought

Ted Farris

Bees push coloured tabs to access a sugary reward
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Cognition and intelligence

What’s this buzz about bees having culture? Inside a groundbreaking experiment

8 minutes

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War and peace

Legacy of the Scythians

How the ancient warrior people of the steppes have found themselves on the cultural frontlines of Russia’s war against Ukraine

Peter Mumford