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Her blazing world

Margaret Cavendish’s boldness and bravery set 17th-century society alight, but is she a feminist poster-girl for our times?

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Ecology and environmental sciences

Dominion

To take care of the Earth, humans must recognise that we are both a part of the animal kingdom and its dominant power

Hugh Desmond

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Rituals and celebrations

Flirtation, negotiation and vodka – or how to couple up in 1950s rural Poland

5 minutes

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Mental health

The last great stigma

Workers with mental illness experience discrimination that would be unthinkable for other health issues. Can this change?

Pernille Yilmam

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Technology and the self

In the town once named Asbestos, locals ponder the voids industry left in its wake

16 minutes

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Biology

How the world’s richest reds are derived from an innocuous Mexican insect

5 minutes

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Quantum theory

Quantum dialectics

When quantum mechanics posed a threat to the Marxist doctrine of materialism, communist physicists sought to reconcile the two

Jim Baggott

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Cities

A lush, whirlwind tribute to the diversity of life in a northern English county

3 minutes

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Music

Folk music was never green

Don’t be swayed by the sound of environmental protest: these songs were first sung in the voice of the cutter, not the tree

Richard Smyth

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Physics

The abyss at the edge of human understanding – a voyage into a black hole

4 minutes

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Nations and empires

A United States of Europe

A free and unified Europe was first imagined by Italian radicals in the 19th century. Could we yet see their dream made real?

Fernanda Gallo

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Stories and literature

On Jewish revenge

What might a people, subjected to unspeakable historical suffering, think about the ethics of vengeance once in power?

Shachar Pinsker

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Stories and literature

Robert Frost’s poetic reflection on youth, as read in his unforgettable baritone

5 minutes

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Biology

Building embryos

For 3,000 years, humans have struggled to understand the embryo. Now there is a revolution underway

John Wallingford

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Sex and sexuality

After a sextortion scam, Eugene conducts an unblushing survey of masturbation

14 minutes

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Design and fashion

Sitting on the art

Given its intimacy with the body and deep play on form and function, furniture is a ripely ambiguous artform of its own

Emma Crichton Miller

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Film and visual culture

‘Bags here are rarely innocent’ – how filmmakers work around censorship in Iran

8 minutes

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Wellbeing

Learning to be happier

In order to help improve my students’ mental health, I offered a course on the science of happiness. It worked – but why?

Bruce Hood

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Consciousness and altered states

Acid media

How perforated squares of trippy blotter paper allowed outlaw chemists and wizard-alchemists to dose the world with LSD

Erik Davis

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Language and linguistics

Closed captions suck. Here’s one artist’s inventive project to make them better

8 minutes

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Medicine

Last hours of an organ donor

In the liminal time when the brain is dead but organs are kept alive, there is an urgent tenderness to medical care

Ronald W Dworkin

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Thinkers and theories

A rare female scholar of the Roman Empire, Hypatia lived and died as a secular voice

5 minutes

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The environment

Decoupling

We need to find a way for human societies to prosper while the planet heals. So far we can’t even think clearly about it

Ville Lähde

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Architecture

The celebrated architect who took inspiration from sitting, waiting and contemplating

29 minutes

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Archaeology

Why make art in the dark?

New research transports us back to the shadowy firelight of ancient caves, imagining the minds and feelings of the artists

Izzy Wisher