Essays

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Essay/Art

Show me the Monet

How wealthy Americans grew to appreciate the French Impressionist painter – as an artist but also as a financial asset

Ross King

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Essay/Economics

End of a golden age

Unprecedented growth marked the era from 1948 to 1973. Economists might study it forever, but it can never be repeated. Why?

Marc Levinson

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Essay/Cognition & Intelligence

Intelligence: a history

Intelligence has always been used as fig-leaf to justify domination and destruction. No wonder we fear super-smart robots

Stephen Cave

Essay/History

The Masada mystery

Have archaeologists proven the ancient tale of mass suicide in the Judaean desert or twisted science for political end?

Eric H Cline

Essay/Stories & Literature

Sex and death in Homer

Why would Odysseus dump a hot nymph? Or toyboys lust after his wife Penelope? Unveiling the erotic mysteries of the Odyssey

C D C Reeve

Essay/History

How Europe became so rich

In a time of great powers and empires, just one region of the world experienced extraordinary economic growth. How?

Joel Mokyr

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Essay/Economics

The great cryptocurrency heist

Blockchain enthusiasts crave a world without bankers, lawyers or fat-cat executives. There's just one problem: trust

E J Spode

Essay/Neuroscience

Living in the now

She can paint, but not name a painting; learn new music without knowing a tune. Lonni Sue is teaching us much about memory.

Michael D Lemonick

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Essay/Philosophy of Mind

Telling memories

Jewish émigrés from the former Soviet Union tell inconsistent stories. What does this say about the nature of memory?

Helen Haft

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Essay/Politics & Government

Fire, hatred and speed!

The glamour, bullying and violence of the libertarian alt-Right has a direct political ancestor, and it’s not Nazi Germany

Jay Griffiths

Essay/Mathematics

How to play mathematics

The world is full of mundane, meek, unconscious things embodying fiendishly complex mathematics. What can we learn from them?

Margaret Wertheim

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Essay/Self-Improvement

The self-help game

Millions believe that pop psychology can change their tennis skills, their love life or their moods. Are they all wrong?

Rami Gabriel

Essay/Demography & Migration

The future is mixed-race

And so is the past. Migration and mingling are essential to human success in the past, the present and into the future

Scott Solomon

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Essay/Space Exploration

Whitey on Mars

Elon Musk and the rise of Silicon Valley's strange trickle-down science

Andrew Russell & Lee Vinsel

Essay/Medicine

Nobody is normal

Are you average? Typical? Ideal? Adequate? The idea of ‘normal’ is a historical construct and it's time we got rid of it

Jonathan Sholl

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Essay/Religion

Christians were strangers

How an obscure oriental cult in a corner of Roman Palestine grew to become the dominant religion of the Western world

Michael Kulikowski

Essay/Progress & Modernity

Is greatness finite?

The world feels caught between infinite possibility and limited resources. Thomas More and T R Malthus can help

Joyce E Chaplin

Essay/Neuroscience

Maps in the head

How animals navigate their way around provides clues to how the brain forms, stores and retrieves memories

Kate Jeffery

Essay/Progress & Modernity

The makeover trap

From transgender celebrities to fitness fads, pop culture loves reinvention. But the drive to ‘find yourself’ has a dark side

Michael Lovelock

Essay/Physics

This granular life

That the world is not solid but made up of tiny particles is a very ancient insight. Is it humanity’s greatest idea?

Carlo Rovelli

Essay/Cosmopolitanism

This is your morning

I left the US, the land of my birth, sickened by racial injustice. But the return to a homeland is not a simple matter

Enuma Okoro

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Essay/Family Life

Latte pappas

Sweden’s hands-on dads represent an alternative male form forged by lowered testosterone and the potent hormones of attachment

Richard W Orange

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Essay/Metaphysics

Unspeakable things

Life's most meaningful experiences can leave us tongue-tied. What can be said, let alone understood, about the unsayable?

Silvia Jonas

Essay/Illness & Disease

A bug for Alzheimer’s?

A bold theory places infection at the root of Alzheimer’s, explaining why decades of treatment have done little good

Melinda Wenner Moyer

Essay/Logic

What is logic?

Is logical thinking a way to discover or to debate? The answers from philosophy and mathematics define human knowledge

Catarina Dutilh Novaes

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Essay/Family Life

How to be a patriarch

His duties are many, his challenges weighty, but his glory can be great. A guide to family management, by a Roman nobleman

Jerry Toner & Marcus Sidonius Falx

Essay/Philosophy of Language

Chomsky, Wolfe and me

I took on Noam Chomsky’s ideas about language and unleashed a decade of debate and ridicule. But is my argument wrong?

Daniel Everett

Essay/Education

Child’s play

The authoritative statement of scientific method derives from a surprising place — early 20th-century child psychology

Henry Cowles

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Essay/Meaning & the Good Life

Dreadful dads

Few of the great existentialists had children. How can their philosophy help with the anxiety and dread of fatherhood?

Clancy Martin & John Kaag

Essay/History

Drugs du jour

LSD in the ’60s; ecstasy in the ’80s; ‘smart’ drugs today: how we get high reflects the desires and fears of our times

Cody Delistraty