Essays

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Sunshine in a bottle

Mimic the dance between carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, and you can tap into clean solar energy and ease climate change

by Peter Forbes

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More than words

Human communication is a glorious chaos. And images, from art to emojis, sometimes say it so much better than language can

by Thom Scott-Phillips

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Why is simpler better?

Ockham’s Razor says that simplicity is a scientific virtue, but justifying this philosophically is strangely elusive

by Elliott Sober

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Silicon phoenix

A gifted child, an adventure, a dark time, and then ... a pivot? How Silicon Valley rewrote America’s redemption narrative

by Kat McGowan

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Why Spinoza still matters

At a time of religious zealotry, Spinoza’s fearless defence of intellectual freedom is more timely than ever

by Steven Nadler

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Ghosts and tiny treasures

We are quick to condemn a hunter posing with his prey, but all too slow to cultivate a chronic passion for wild things

by Bryan Pfeiffer

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Enid Blyton, moral guide

The unfashionable world of Blyton’s school stories still has much to say about what it means to live an ethical life

by Nakul Krishna

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A science without time

From past to present, into the future: the flow of time is central to human experience. Why isn’t it central to physics?

by Gene Tracy

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Why is death bad?

Even without a hereafter, dying gets a bad rap. But why exactly is it no good – because of what happens, or what doesn’t?

by Eric Olson

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In proof we trust

Blockchain technology will revolutionise far more than money: it will change your life. Here’s how it actually works

by Dominic Frisby

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Red-hot gay marriage

Gay liberation didn’t begin with marches and political rallies, but with a revolution in thought

by Jim Downs

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Did Rousseau have ADHD?

Rousseau’s non-linear style of thought, restless spirit and chaotic mood swings also made him one of history’s greats

by Richard W Orange

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Sexy beasts

Male flamboyance does more than ruffle a few feathers – it helps the female choose a mate in top metabolic health

by Alex Riley

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Spare the rod

Christian Domestic Discipline and the erotics of religious submission raise the possibility of a new concept of God

by Tara Isabella Burton

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Who owns the earth?

Private land ownership is a beautiful dream gone badly wrong. It’s time to reinstate the forgotten ideal of the commons

by Antonia Malchik

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Gravitational wave blues

For a thrilling moment, it looked as though Joe Weber had bagged the biggest discovery in physics

by Janna Levin

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Bridging the Hellespont

In the light of the Syrian refugee crisis, how long can we cling to our traditional ideas of ‘Europe’ and ‘Asia’?

by Tim Whitmarsh

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Hail the maintainers

Capitalism excels at innovation but is failing at maintenance, and for most lives it is maintenance that matters more

by Lee Vinsel & Andrew Russell

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The pleasure of their pain

Why the punishment and humiliation of reality TV contestants provides such a satisfying and deep pleasure

by Batya Ungar-Sargon

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The new astrology

By fetishising mathematical models, economists turned economics into a highly paid pseudoscience

by Alan Jay Levinovitz

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The ages of distraction

Busy, distracted, inattentive? Everybody has been since at least 1710 and here are the philosophers to prove it

by Frank Furedi

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Black-hole computing

Might nature’s bottomless pits actually be ultra-efficient quantum computers? That could explain why data never dies

by Sabine Hossenfelder

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Islam’s forgotten bohemians

With its subversive poetry, rejection of politics, and ecstatic rituals, Sufi Islam continues to surprise and to thrive

by Nile Green

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Beyond cell wars

It is time to disarm the military metaphor of the body as a battleground, with immune cells as the first line of defence

by Jon Turney

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The depths of Okeanos

To the ancient Greeks, Ocean – at once a monster and a god – was what the Big Bang is to cosmologists today

by James Romm

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Where do minds belong?

Intelligence could have been moving back and forth between biological beings and machine receptacles for aeons

by Caleb Scharf

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Is everybody a racist?

The studies just keep coming. Unconscious racism is pervasive. It starts early. And it creates a deadly empathy gap

by Princess Ojiaku

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Life rocks

Could meteorites be akin to lifeboats from other planets? Or do they reveal more about life on Earth than off it?

by Philip Ball

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The heart of the world

The Silk Road – from the Eastern Mediterranean to China’s Pacific shore – is once again the centre of the world

by Peter Frankopan

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It’s not easy being green

If rational persuasion fails to make people behave environmentally, could rituals and a dash of guilt do a better job?

by Sarah Darwin & Stephen Cave