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Science

Essays and videos exploring physics, evolution, cosmology and other frontiers in science
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essay

Pleasure and pain

Eulogy for silence

Tinnitus is like a constant scream inside my head, depriving me of what I formerly treasured: the moments of serene quiet

Diego Ramírez Martín del Campo

A close-up of an orange and black butterfly perched on a leaf with a soft, pastel-coloured background.
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essay

History of ideas

Chaos and cause

Can a butterfly’s wings trigger a distant hurricane? The answer depends on the perspective you take: physics or human agency

Erik Van Aken

X-ray image of a single flower with visible petals, stem, and internal structures on a black background.
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Philosophy of mind

Do plants have minds?

In the 1840s, the iconoclastic scientist Gustav Fechner made an inspired case for taking seriously the interior lives of plants

Rachael Petersen

Image of a human colon highlighted in blue, with a contrasting yellow-orange background, taken using a medical imaging technique to show the internal structure.
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essay

Illness and disease

Getting past ‘it’s IBS’

While science illuminates the gut-brain relationship, doctors remain ignorant and dismissive of patients with gut problems

Xi Chen

Medieval manuscript illustration of a dragon with a red head, green and blue wings, and a snake-like tail, standing on a hill. The dragon is bordered by a decorative green frame with circular patterns and a blue border with white rings. The background features golden leaf motifs.
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video

Animals and humans

Why be dragons? How massive, reptilian beasts entered our collective imagination

58 minutes

View from space of Europe at night, showing bright city lights and the Northern Lights in the distance. The image features a clear outline of countries and coastlines illuminated by artificial light, with a dark sky speckled with stars overhead.
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Ecology and environmental sciences

Dominion

To take care of the Earth, humans must recognise that we are both a part of the animal kingdom and its dominant power

Hugh Desmond

Close-up image of a hand holding a pile of vibrant red powder, possibly a spice or pigment, displaying a textured and granular surface. The background is blurred, ensuring the focus remains on the red powder and the hand.
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video

Biology

How the world’s richest reds are derived from an innocuous Mexican insect

5 minutes

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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essay

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

Artistic depiction of a black hole with light bending around its event horizon. A bright swirl of light contrasts against the dark background, illustrating the gravitational pull and bending of light.
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video

Physics

The abyss at the edge of human understanding – a voyage into a black hole

4 minutes

Two embryos, colourised in shades of pink, orange, and purple, against a black background. The embryos have distinguishable head, body, and tail regions.
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essay

Biology

Building embryos

For 3,000 years, humans have struggled to understand the embryo. Now there is a revolution underway

John Wallingford

A team of surgeons in blue scrubs and surgical caps operate under bright surgical lights in an operating theatre. Medical instruments and equipment are arranged on tables around them, while one team member adjusts another’s mask. Shelves in the background hold medical supplies.
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Medicine

Last hours of an organ donor

In the liminal time when the brain is dead but organs are kept alive, there is an urgent tenderness to medical care

Ronald W Dworkin

Image of an offshore wind turbine in the sea with a large LNG ship in the background under a partly cloudy sky in calm waters.
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The environment

Decoupling

We need to find a way for human societies to prosper while the planet heals. So far we can’t even think clearly about it

Ville Lähde

An image shows the earth horizon at night seen from space. The lights of a city glow beneath the vast starry night of space
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Astronomy

Alien life is no joke

Not long ago the search for extraterrestrials was considered laughable nonsense. Today, it’s serious and scientific

Adam Frank

A medieval painting shows three figures: one holds a balance scale, weighing objects; two robed figures stand nearby. There are coins on the table and intricate border details.
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History of ideas

Reimagining balance

In the Middle Ages, a new sense of balance fundamentally altered our understanding of nature and society

Joel Kaye

Overhead view of a person walking down a spiral staircase with yellow steps. The staircase creates a swirling visual effect.
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video

Chemistry

Why do the building blocks of life possess a mysterious symmetry?

12 minutes

An early morning view across an old bridge towards the spires of a historic medieval city partially obscured by fog
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essay

Home

Return of the descendants

I migrated to my ancestral homeland in a search for identity. It proved to be a humbling experience in (un)belonging

Jessica Buchleitner

A woman with brown hair wearing a dark blazer and light-coloured top is speaking, gesturing with her hand. The background is out-of-focus greenery.
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video

Cosmology

Tiny, entangled universes that form or fizzle out – a theory of the quantum multiverse

11 minutes

Rainy forest road with yellow railings on either side and autumn trees with colourful leaves lining the road. Wet reflective surface and slight haze from the rain.
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Neuroscience

How to make a map of smell

We can split light by a prism, sounds by tones, but surely the world of odour is too complex and personal? Strangely, no

Jason Castro

Futuristic illustration of two astronauts in red spacesuits above a moon-like surface. One astronaut points towards an illuminated city inside a crater.
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video

Astronomy

The history of astronomy is a history of conjuring intelligent life where it isn’t

34 minutes

Close-up microscopic view of Diatom plankton with transparent, geometric shapes connected by thin, radiant lines, set against a dark background.
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video

Metaphysics

Simple entities in universal harmony – Leibniz’s evocative perspective on reality

4 minutes

A person in an orange jumpsuit smiles while holding a white helmet against a clear blue sky background.
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video

Biography and memoir

Passed over as the first Black astronaut, Ed Dwight carved out an impressive second act

13 minutes

Close-up images of a display pixel grid, a black and white foam pattern, and a colourful honeycomb structure.
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video

Engineering

A close-up look at electronic paper reveals its exquisite patterns – and limitations

9 minutes

A colourful abstract image depicting intertwined organic shapes in shades of blue, green, and purple, with some pink accents.
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Biology

The cell is not a factory

Scientific narratives project social hierarchies onto nature. That’s why we need better metaphors to describe cellular life

Charudatta Navare

Bees push coloured tabs to access a sugary reward
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video

Cognition and intelligence

What’s this buzz about bees having culture? Inside a groundbreaking experiment

8 minutes