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Science

Essays and videos exploring physics, evolution, cosmology and other frontiers in science
Out of the forest | Aeon
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Human evolution

Out of the forest

We have thought of humans for a century or more as creatures of the savannah, shaped in every way by grassland life. Not so

Patrick Roberts

Thalia Wheatley: social neuroscience | Aeon
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Neuroscience

The brain repurposed our sense of physical distance to understand social closeness

5 minutes

Tainted love | Aeon
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Love and friendship

Tainted love

Love is both a wonderful thing and a cunning evolutionary trick to control us. A dangerous cocktail in the wrong hands

Anna Machin

Primitive communism | Aeon
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Anthropology

Primitive communism

Marx’s idea that societies were naturally egalitarian and communal before farming is widely influential and quite wrong

Manvir Singh

Is virtue signalling a vice? | Aeon
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Virtues and vices

Is virtue signalling a vice?

Proclaiming one’s own goodness is deeply annoying. Yet signalling theory explains why it’s a peculiarly powerful manoeuvre

Tadeg Quillien

Homo imaginatus | Aeon
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Human evolution

Homo imaginatus

Imagination isn’t just a spillover from our problem-solving prowess. It might be the core of what human brains evolved to do

Philip Ball

Music and sex | Aeon
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Music

Music and sex

A song can take you on a journey of ecstatic arousal. Is music imitating sex, inviting it, or something else altogether?

Michael Spitzer

ORIGINALAlison Gopnik: Cognition, care and spirituality | Aeon
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Philosophy of mind

Caring for the vulnerable opens gateways to our richest, deepest brain states

7 minutes

Why do we sleep? | Aeon
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Sleep and dreams

Why do we sleep?

Adults sleep less than babies. Sperm whales sleep less again. A new mathematical theory unlocks the mysteries of slumber

Van Savage & Geoffrey West

How equality slipped away | Aeon
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Anthropology

How equality slipped away

For 97 per cent of human history, all people had about the same power and access to goods. How did inequality ratchet up?

Kim Sterelny

We heal one another | Aeon
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Mental health

We heal one another

When a person is in distress, we can draw on deep, evolved mechanisms to calm the storm, through attention, touch and care

Brandon Kohrt

Brains in a dish | Aeon
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Human evolution

Brains in a dish

What pea-sized brain organoids reveal about consciousness, the self and our future as a species

Alysson Muotri

The joy of being animal | Aeon
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Animals and humans

The joy of being animal

Human exceptionalism is dead: for the sake of our own happiness and the planet we should embrace our true animal nature

Melanie Challenger

A small antelope horn | Aeon
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video

Anthropology

Sitting by the fire with a nomadic tribe, a physicist ponders the many shapes of wisdom

2 minutes

Beyond the !Kung | Aeon
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Anthropology

Beyond the !Kung

A grand research project created our origin myth that early human societies were all egalitarian, mobile and small-scale

Manvir Singh

Sheanderthal | Aeon
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Human evolution

Sheanderthal

Not all Neanderthals were ‘cavemen’: half were women. What can archaeologists tell us about how they lived?

Rebecca Wragg Sykes

All stars | Aeon
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Complexity

All stars

Is a great team more than the sum of its players? Complexity science reveals the role of strategy, synergy, swarming and more

Jessica Flack & Cade Massey

The trauma tracer | Aeon
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Genetics

If trauma can be passed down, could new therapies blunt the transgenerational impact?

9 minutes

Vulnerable yet vital | Aeon
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Human evolution

Vulnerable yet vital

The dance of love and lore between grandparent and grandchild is at the centre, not the fringes, of our evolutionary story

Alison Gopnik

On the same wavelength | Aeon
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Cognition and intelligence

On the same wavelength

The urge to align our minds and emotions with those we care for, whether they are near or far, makes our species unique

Hayden Kee

Mary Midgley: the solitary self | Aeon
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video

History of ideas

The self is not always selfish: Mary Midgley takes on Richard Dawkins

28 minutes

Neither nasty nor brutish | Aeon
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Anthropology

Neither nasty nor brutish

The Ik – among the poorest people on Earth – have been cast as exemplars of human selfishness. The truth is much more startling

Cathryn Townsend

Hand to mouth | Aeon
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Language and linguistics

Hand to mouth

If language began with gestures around a campfire and secret signals on hunts, why did speech come to dominate communication?

Kensy Cooperrider

Ancient yet cosmopolitan | Aeon
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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