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Philosophy

Essays and videos on philosophy, the history of ideas, ethics and life’s big questions
Abstract artwork featuring geometric shapes, primarily red and black triangles, against a white background. Russian text is interspersed, with a red triangle pointing rightward and a large white circle on the right. Various smaller shapes and text elements are scattered around.
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Quantum theory

Quantum dialectics

When quantum mechanics posed a threat to the Marxist doctrine of materialism, communist physicists sought to reconcile the two

Jim Baggott

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Evolution

Kinship

Science must become attuned to the subtle conversations that pervade all life, from the primordial to the present

David Waltner-Toews

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History of science

The missing conversation

To the detriment of the public, scientists and historians don’t engage with one another. They must begin a new dialogue

Lorraine Daston & Peter Harrison

Two abstract figures, one purple and one white, touching heads with scribbled lines above them, depicting a connection or communication. Pink background.
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Gender

When aggression is viewed as brilliance, it hurts women in science, and science itself

5 minutes

Scientists in cleanroom suits conversing in a brightly lit laboratory with a yellow hue, featuring reflective surfaces and specialised equipment.
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Philosophy of science

Why not scientism?

Science is not the only form of knowledge but it is the best, being the most successful epistemic enterprise in history

Moti Mizrahi

Medieval illustration of a monk using a compass on a wooden desk, with books, a scale, and an ornate background.
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History of science

Machina mundi

How medieval thinkers foreshadowed modern physics in investigating the character of machines, devices and forces

Henrik Lagerlund & Sylvain Roudaut

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Thinkers and theories

Bernard Williams on Descartes’s audacious endeavour to prove knowledge is possible

43 minutes

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Knowledge

A sliver of reality

Science and mathematics may never fully capture the physical universe. Are there hard limits to human intelligence?

David H Wolpert

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Thinkers and theories

The lady vanishes

The history of ideas still struggles to remember the names of notable women philosophers. Mary Hesse is a salient example

Ann-Sophie Barwich

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Philosophy of science

What is a law of nature?

Laws of nature are impossible to break, and nearly as difficult to define. Just what kind of necessity do they possess?

Marc Lange

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Logic and probability

The unresolved probability paradox that goes to the heart of scientific objectivity

8 minutes

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Quantum theory

Mind-bending new quantum experiments are blurring past, present and future

10 minutes

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History of science

Fringe theories stack

Believe in the Loch Ness monster and you’re more likely to believe the Apollo missions were fake. How do weird beliefs work?

Michael D Gordin

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History of science

Calculate but don’t shut up

The cliché has it that the Copenhagen interpretation demands adherence without deep enquiry. That does physics a disservice

Jim Baggott

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Philosophy of science

The beautiful experiment

Science has become extraordinarily technocratic and complex. Is the simple and decisive experiment still a worthy ideal?

Milena Ivanova

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Future of technology

Learn from machine learning

The world is a black box full of extreme specificity: it might be predictable but that doesn’t mean it is understandable

David Weinberger

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Physics

Why simplicity works

Does the existence of a multiverse hold the key for why nature’s laws seem so simple?

Johnjoe McFadden

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Genetics

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

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Cosmology

Building ‘bigger and better’ has pushed cosmology forward. Can it take it any further?

7 minutes

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Cosmology

A non-Standard model

Most cosmologists say dark matter must exist. So far, it’s nowhere to be found. A widely scorned rival theory explains why

David Merritt

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Earth science and climate

How much can science really tell us about the future of climate change?

24 minutes

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Mathematics

Against ‘beauty’ in science – how striving for elegance stifles progress

9 minutes

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Quantum theory

‘Moving paintings’ evoke a quantum particle collision at the Large Hadron Collider

4 minutes

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essay

Philosophy of science

Keep science irrational

Is hard data the only path to scientific truth? That’s an absurd, illogical and profoundly useful fiction

Michael Strevens