Living orbs of light
Solving the mystery of how and why fireflies flash in time can illuminate the physics of complex systems
What is ‘the West’?
While the West belonged to a European geography, its name meant something. Now it is a vague invocation, laden with fear
Sleep and dreams
Why do we sleep?
Adults sleep less than babies. Sperm whales sleep less again. A new mathematical theory unlocks the mysteries of slumber
Van Savage & Geoffrey West
Sex on the curriculum
Sex education is a battlefield over morals and young bodies, and has exposed fractures in American life for over a century
What animals think of death
Having a concept of death, far from being a uniquely human feat, is a fairly common trait in the animal kingdom
Thinkers and theories
Brilliant and fierce, the philosopher and educator Amalia Holst demonstrated how the German Enlightenment failed women
Maestro of more than music
Look beneath the surface of Bach’s music and you will find a fascinating hidden world of numerology and cunning craft
Stories and literature
The cliché writes back
Machine-written literature might offend your tastes but until the dawn of Romanticism most writers were just as formulaic
Queer and Arab
Was there no room for the queer individual in Arab history? Have people like us simply never belonged?
Food and drink
The food wars
Vitamins or whole foods; high-fat or low-fat; sugar or sweetener. Will we ever get a clear idea about what we should eat?
Thomas Jefferson founded a university believing it would safeguard republican freedom. Slavery was another matter altogether
An idea with bite
The ‘selfish gene’ persists for the reason all good scientific metaphors do: it remains a sharp tool for clear thinking
J Arvid Ågren