Scientists working extra hours during the COVID-19 pandemic at the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases in Athens, Greece. 18 March 2020. Photo by Enri Canaj/Magnum

Essay/
Philosophy of science
The good scientist

Science is the one culture that all humans share. What would it mean to create a scientifically literate future together?

Martin Rees

Alt-Berlin, Waisenstraße (1927) by Hans Baluschek. Courtesy of the Märkisches Museum, Berlin/Wikipedia

Essay/
Cities
Money and modern life

Sociologist Georg Simmel diagnosed the character of modern city life: finance, fashion and becoming strangers to one another

Daniel Lopez

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The Inquisition Scene (1808-1812), by Francisco Goya. Courtesy the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, Madrid

Essay/
Virtues and vices
Vice dressed as virtue

Cruelty and morality seem like polar opposites – until they join forces. Beware those who persecute in the name of principle

Paul Russell

From Piers Plowman (1427) by William Langdon. Bodleian Library MS. Douce 104. Courtesy the Bodleian Library, Oxford

Essay/
Language and linguistics
On gibberish

Babies babble, medieval rustics sing ‘trolly-lolly’, and jazz exults in bebop. What does all this wordplay mean for language?

Jenni Nuttall

‘Culling Tea’ (c1869), attributed to Lai Fong (or Afong, Chinese, 1839-90). Courtesy The Met Museum, New York

Essay/
Economic history
Tea and capitalism

The China tea trade was a paradox: a global, intensified industry without the usual spectacle of factories and technology

Andrew Liu

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‘Take if you need, give if you can’: a local response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Naples, Italy, 30 March 2020. Photo by Ciro De Luca/Reuters

Essay/
Public health
It didn’t have to be this way

A bioethicist at the heart of the Italian coronavirus crisis asks: why won’t we talk about the trade-offs of the lockdown?

Silvia Camporesi

The Death of General Wolfe (1770) by Benjamin West. Wolfe was killed during the Battle of Quebec (1759) that decided the fate of French lands in North America. Courtesy the National Gallery of Canada/Wikipedia

Essay/
History
Are there laws of history?

Historians believe that the past is irreducibly complex and the future wildly unpredictable. Scientists disagree. Who’s right?

Amanda Rees

An artist’s representation of superstrings. Illustration by Mehau Kuylyk/Science Photo Library

Essay/
Philosophy of science
How science fails

For the émigré philosopher Imre Lakatos, science degenerates unless it is theoretically and experimentally progressive

Jim Baggott

Photo courtesy Wellcome Images

Essay/
Neuroscience
Frames of consciousness

Can electrical impulses in the brain explain the stuff that dreams are made on? What a new consciousness-detector reveals

Joel Frohlich

Just for them. Photo by Pilar Olivares/Reuters

Essay/
Family life
Kid culture

In most cultures, kids tag along with grownups or mooch with friends but American life is heavy with ‘kid-friendly’ artifice

Sarah Menkedick

The Death of General Wolfe (1770) by Benjamin West. Wolfe was killed during the Battle of Quebec (1759) that decided the fate of French lands in North America. Courtesy the National Gallery of Canada/Wikipedia

Essay/
History
Are there laws of history?

Historians believe that the past is irreducibly complex and the future wildly unpredictable. Scientists disagree. Who’s right?

Amanda Rees

American Civil Rights activist Malcolm X (left) pictured in New York in 1963. His radicalism helped shape public discourse. Photo by Robert L Haggins/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty

Essay/
Mood and emotion
The fruits of anger

To those who say anger is destructive or pointless: Not so! Getting angry spurs and sustains us to take action for justice

Brian Wong

Abigail Mary Allen and James Allen (The Female Husband); a hand-coloured etching and aquatint by Thomas Howell Jones (c1829). Courtesy the National Portrait Gallery, London

Essay/
History
Female husbands

Far from being a recent or 21st-century phenomenon, people have chosen, courageously, to trans gender throughout history

Jen Manion