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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.

The disruption nexus

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

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

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Language and linguistics

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

7 minutes

Close-up image of a jumping spider showing its detailed features, including multiple eyes, hairy legs, and fangs. The spider is facing forward with a white background.
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Evolution

What is intelligent life?

Our human minds hold us back from truly understanding the many brilliant ways that other creatures solve their problems

Abigail Desmond & Michael Haslam

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Engineering

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

4 minutes

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Life stages

What Michelangelo’s late-in-life works reveal about his genius – and his humanness

13 minutes

Mist-covered city skyline with a calm, reflective body of water in the foreground under a grey sky.
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Pleasure and pain

Eulogy for silence

Tinnitus is like a constant scream inside my head, depriving me of what I formerly treasured: the moments of serene quiet

Diego Ramírez Martín del Campo

Three cracked ceramic shards with painted faces are arranged on blocks, with strands of twisted rope resembling hair against a blurred green and blue background.
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The ancient world

Archeological discoveries animate the life of the warrior queen who took on Rome

6 minutes

A close-up of an orange and black butterfly perched on a leaf with a soft, pastel-coloured background.
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History of ideas

Chaos and cause

Can a butterfly’s wings trigger a distant hurricane? The answer depends on the perspective you take: physics or human agency

Erik Van Aken

Four young girls in dresses smile outside, with one holding a small cat.
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Biography and memoir

Preserving memories of a Japanese internment camp, and the land where it stood

8 minutes

X-ray image of a single flower with visible petals, stem, and internal structures on a black background.
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Philosophy of mind

Do plants have minds?

In the 1840s, the iconoclastic scientist Gustav Fechner made an inspired case for taking seriously the interior lives of plants

Rachael Petersen

Close-up of a hammer, metal pot, and three rounded wooden objects on a stone surface, with a hand holding the hammer.
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Making

Trek to a remote Himalayan village where artisans craft teapots fit for kings

11 minutes

Intricate artwork of robed women with long, flowing hair in a forest, surrounding a glowing, veiled woman adorned with flowers.
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Beauty and aesthetics

All aquiver

The Decadent movement taught that you should live your life with the greatest intensity – a dangerous and thrilling challenge

Kate Hext

Shopfront of NY 99 Cent Fresh Pizza restaurant with an open sign, vaccine notice, and menu visible through the window.
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Economic history

Economics 101

Why introductory economics courses continued to teach zombie ideas from before economics became an empirical discipline

Walter Frick

Abstract geometric pattern featuring overlapping rectangular and house-like shapes in various colours, including orange, yellow, green, pink, blue, red, and black, with circular details. The shapes create a visually intriguing mosaic-like composition.
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Political philosophy

Beyond the veil – what rules would govern John Rawls’s ‘realistic Utopia’?

6 minutes

Cyclists in a professional race riding in rainy conditions. The leading cyclist in a blue jersey raises his arms in victory, with other cyclists closely following behind on the wet road. Everyone is wearing helmets and sunglasses for protection.
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Sports and games

Performance-enhancing vices

Selfishness channels ambition, envy drives competition, pride aids the win. Does it take a bad person to be a good athlete?

Sabrina Little

Sepia photograph of the poet with long curly hair and a full beard and moustache. He wears a white shirt and dark suit, and has a thoughtful expression.
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Stories and literature

To capture grief in poetry is to describe the ineffable. Here’s why Tennyson did it best

8 minutes

Image of a human colon highlighted in blue, with a contrasting yellow-orange background, taken using a medical imaging technique to show the internal structure.
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Illness and disease

Getting past ‘it’s IBS’

While science illuminates the gut-brain relationship, doctors remain ignorant and dismissive of patients with gut problems

Xi Chen

A person with light blonde hair, wearing a dark hoodie, stands on a cliff by the sea, holding a bird. The sea is rough with waves crashing against the rocks, and several rock formations are visible in the misty background.
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Childhood and adolescence

The unique fellowship between teens and young puffins on a remote Icelandic island

20 minutes

A young woman and a man, both dressed formally, sit at a table with an electronic device in front of them. The woman is engaging with the device, which has several buttons and dials, while the man observes attentively. The setting appears to be an office or classroom. The image is in black and white.
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Technology and the self

Tomorrow people

For the entire 20th century, it had felt like telepathy was just around the corner. Why is that especially true now?

Roger Luckhurst

A colourful, abstract image featuring a large, black and white bird in flight. The background is a swirling mix of purple, orange, and yellow hues. A small figure of a child walks in the distance, casting a long shadow.
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Ageing and death

Peregrinations of grief

A friend and a falcon went missing. In pain, I turned to ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ – and found a new vision of sorrow and time

Emily Polk

Medieval manuscript illustration of a dragon with a red head, green and blue wings, and a snake-like tail, standing on a hill. The dragon is bordered by a decorative green frame with circular patterns and a blue border with white rings. The background features golden leaf motifs.
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Animals and humans

Why be dragons? How massive, reptilian beasts entered our collective imagination

58 minutes

Black and white image of Japanese soldiers in battle gear marching with a Rising Sun Flag, superimposed with large Japanese calligraphy characters on a plain background.
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Nations and empires

Chastising little brother

Why did Japanese Confucians enthusiastically support Imperial Japan’s murderous conquest of China, the homeland of Confucius?

Shaun O’Dwyer

Open books arranged in a grid with pages featuring bright, hand-painted floral designs, around a drawing of a loaf of bread.
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Rituals and celebrations

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

5 minutes

A historical painting of a woman in a detailed blue and silver gown with lace sleeves. She wears a pearl necklace and a hat adorned with white and pink flowers. The background features a golden tapestry and dark pillars.
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Stories and literature

Her blazing world

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

Francesca Peacock