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A facsimile of the Carta marina (1539) by Olaus Magnus. Photo courtesy Wikipedia

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Astronomy
Here be black holes

Like sea monsters on premodern maps, deep-space images are science’s fanciful means to chart the edges of the known world

Surekha Davies

Scientists near the Daneborg research station in Greenland, July/August 2014. Photo by Jean Gaumy/Magnum

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Philosophy of science
The necessity of awe

In awe we hold fast to nature’s strangeness and open up to the unknown. No wonder it’s central to the scientific imagination

Helen De Cruz

Photo by Martin Roemers/Panos

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Mental health
Unboxing mental health

Our system for diagnosing mental disorders doesn’t work. The transdiagnostic model offers a humane, clinically sound alternative

Melissa Black

The cleaner wrasse (pictured here accompanying the larger black-and-white snapper) can seemingly recognise itself in a mirror. Photo by Ullstein Bild/Getty

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Biology
The face of the fish

They’re not cuddly, they don’t behave at all like us – yet they are sentient. Why fish belong in the moral community

Michael Woodruff

A group gather to watch another victim taken to a hospital during the 1956 polio epidemic in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Francis Miller/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty

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Illness and disease
Stealth infections

From the Black Death to polio, the most dangerous pathogens have moved silently, transmitted by apparently healthy people

Wendy Orent

Joan Miller in labour. Chicago, 19 September 1946. Photo by Wayne Miller/Magnum

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Pleasure and pain
The hysteria accusation

Women’s pain is often medically overlooked and undertreated. But the answer is not as simple as ‘believing all women’

Elizabeth Barnes

A section of the Andromeda galaxy M31, from the largest and most detailed image ever taken with the Hubble telescope. The full image shows more than 100 million stars stretching across more than 40,000 light years. Photo courtesy NASA, ESA, J Dalcanton, B F Williams, L C Johnson (University of Washington), the PHAT team and R Gendler

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Astronomy
Does dark matter exist?

Dark matter is the most ubiquitous thing physicists have never found: it’s time to consider alternative explanations

Ramin Skibba

A hunting scene discovered painted in a cave in Sulawesi, Indonesia, is thought to be 44,000 years old. Photo courtesy Ratno Sardi/Griffith University

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Human evolution
Ancient yet cosmopolitan

Art, adornment and sophisticated hunting technologies flourished not only in prehistoric Europe but across the globe

Gaia Vince

On a mountain road from Koya to Ryujin, Japan. 1998. Photo by Peter Marlow/Magnum

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Physics
From chaos to free will

A crude understanding of physics sees determinism at work in the Universe. Luckily, molecular uncertainty ensures this isn’t so

George Ellis

Photo by Mayr/Flickr

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Consciousness and altered states
Consciousness regained

After years of deep therapeutic pessimism, emerging therapies offer hope for patients trapped between coma and wakefulness

Aurore Thibaut

Photo by Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Medicine
The medicalised life

Why do so many see vaccines and other medical interventions as tools of social control rather than boons to health?

Bernice L Hausman

Scientists working extra hours during the COVID-19 pandemic at the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases in Athens, Greece. 18 March 2020. Photo by Enri Canaj/Magnum

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Philosophy of science
The good scientist

Science is the one culture that all humans share. What would it mean to create a scientifically literate future together?

Martin Rees

Honeybees collect nectar from an Eryngium plant at Great Dixter in Northiam, East Sussex, on 4 August 2013. Photo by Chris Helgren/Reuters

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Animals and humans
The accidental beekeeper

The gift of a half-wanted hive took me into the world of bees, kept and wild: a place of generosity and attentiveness

Helen Jukes

‘Take if you need, give if you can’: a local response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Naples, Italy, 30 March 2020. Photo by Ciro De Luca/Reuters

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Public health
It didn’t have to be this way

A bioethicist at the heart of the Italian coronavirus crisis asks: why won’t we talk about the trade-offs of the lockdown?

Silvia Camporesi

Seamen relaxing on the HMS Pallas, April 1775. Early depictions of common seamen are exceedingly rare; this one is from an album of watercolours by Second Lieutenant Gabriel Bray aboard the ship. Courtesy the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

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Oceans and water
Who was Jack Tar?

He was a patriot and a prisoner, a delegate and a drunk; circling the globe when few Englishmen ever left their home counties

Stephen Taylor

The dilution refrigerator for the IBM Q quantum computer, September 2019. Photo by Graham Carlow/IBM

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The future
At the limits of thought

Science today stands at a crossroads: will its progress be driven by human minds or by the machines that we’ve created?

David C Krakauer

Saint Catherine of Siena (c1612) by Juan Bautista Maíno. Courtesy the Museo del Prado, Madrid

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Illness and disease
Unholy anorexia

Medieval mystics starved the body to feed the soul. Understanding this perfectionist mindset could help treat anorexia today

Paul Broks