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Science

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

Ant geopolitics

Over the past four centuries quadrillions of ants have created a strange and turbulent global society that shadows our own

John Whitfield

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Palaeontology

The dinosaurs didn’t rule

When we think of changes in Earth’s history as changes of dynasty we miss out on understanding how life really works

Riley Black

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Biology

To understand how an animal sees the world, start with the shape of its pupils

5 minutes

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Genetics

Evolution without accidents

Despite advances in molecular genetics, too many biologists think that natural selection is driven by random mutations

James A Shapiro

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Biology

The key to geckos’ unrivalled climbing skills isn’t sticky feet. It’s subatomic

4 minutes

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Human evolution

Far from frivolous, cuteness is a powerful – and still mysterious – force of nature

6 minutes

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Physics

Time is an object

Not a backdrop, an illusion or an emergent phenomenon, time has a physical size that can be measured in laboratories

Sara Walker & Lee Cronin

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Human evolution

How like the kiwi we are

To understand helpless human babies, our big brains and oddly involved dads, look to the evolution of birds not mammals

Antone Martinho-Truswell

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Evolution

Why making if-then connections might be the key to consciousness

5 minutes

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Earth science and climate

Our Earth, shaped by life

Darwin was the first to see that all lifeforms, from worms to corals, transform the planet. What does that mean for us?

Olivia Judson

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video

Biology

To understand the limits of human senses, look to the wild world of animal cognition

45 minutes

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Evolution

Symmetry rules life on Earth – but it comes with many fascinating exceptions

9 minutes

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video

Biology

There’s no one way for an insect to fly, but they’re all amazing in close up and slo-mo

7 minutes

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Consciousness and altered states

Seeing and somethingness

An evolutionary approach to consciousness can resolve the ‘hard problem’ – with radical implications for animal sentience

Nicholas Humphrey

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Evolution

Fortune favours the shrewd

Attaining and maintaining power lies at the heart of almost all animal societies. And it’s as devious as human politicking

Lee Alan Dugatkin

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Biology

Like pop music, humpback whale songs spread, mutate, and fall out of fashion

9 minutes

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Evolution

What on earth is a xenobot?

The more we understand how cells produce shape and form, the more inadequate the idea of a genomic blueprint looks

Philip Ball

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Evolution

Connected-up-brains

Bat friends, monkeys sharing, and humans holding hands: the brains of social animals synchronise and expand one another

Sofia Quaglia

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Biology

The split-body problem

Why we need to stop thinking about parents, offspring and sex when we try to understand how life reproduces itself

Gunnar O Babcock

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Evolution

The web of life

Classic evolutionary theory holds that species separate over time. But it’s fuzzier than that – now we know they also merge

Juli Berwald

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Sleep and dreams

Ancestral dreams

We’re not the only beings that dream. What visions might sleep bring to a cell, an insect, a mollusk, an ape?

Sidarta Ribeiro

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video

Evolution

The master-of-disguise creature whose whole life is an elaborate lie

5 minutes

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Evolution

Promethean beasts

Far from being hardwired to flee fire, some animals use it to their own ends, helping us understand our own pyrocognition

Ivo Jacobs

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Palaeontology

This riotous life

There’s no rhythm to mass extinctions, no pattern to evolutionary recovery. Life bursts forth, in cacophonous adaptation

Riley Black