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Science

Essays and videos exploring physics, evolution, cosmology and other frontiers in science
Mist-covered city skyline with a calm, reflective body of water in the foreground under a grey sky.
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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

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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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

Woman holds a baby while standing on a stone spiral path in a forested area with trees and greenery in the background.
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Biography and memoir

As her world unravels, Pilar wonders at the ‘sacred geometry’ that gives it structure

20 minutes

A close up picture of hands playing a silver brass flute with a shallow depth of field such that the foreground fingers and keys are more in focus
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Music

To the tune of dystonia

One day, my hand stopped speaking to my brain. As a doctor and flute player, I had to understand this strange affliction

Lynn Hallarman

Rubens painting Venus and Cupid reimagined with Venus on the left gazing in a mirror at her mastectomized breast. A cherub like Cupid to the right holds the mirror
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Illness and disease

More than pink

The culture around breast cancer is full of positivity and femininity. But it comes at the expense of the marginalised

Philippa Hetherington

Two people standing barefoot on grass. Only their lower bodies are visible, with hills and trees in the background.
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video

Technology and the self

Greetings from Green Bank – the small town where modern technology is banned

10 minutes

Art deco style illustration of a person holding a flaming torch and a sword, with text “DON’T FIGHT CANCER ALONE” above on a blue and white background.
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Illness and disease

The war on cancer

Is it time to abandon the century-old idea that cancer is best met with a ‘fight’ from patients and their doctors alike?

Elaine Schattner

Abstract artwork with geometric shapes, organic forms, and pastel colours intersecting in a mandala-like pattern, with gold and blue swirls on a dark background.
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Consciousness and altered states

Animal, vegetable, mineral

Cruel and unscientific, the ‘vegetative state’ diagnosis stems from a hierarchical and bigoted view of all living things

Ben Platts-Mills

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Social psychology

Social contagions can cause genuine illness, and TikTok may be a superspreader

10 minutes

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Mental health

The helpful delusion

Evidence is growing that mental illness is more than dysfunction, with enormous implications for treatment

Justin Garson

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Illness and disease

Are they the canaries?

People with multiple chemical sensitivity seem to be allergic to the world. What, if anything, can medicine do for them?

Xi Chen

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Mood and emotion

‘Let me dream you into my reality’: memories illuminate an unthinkable isolation

12 minutes

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Art

A massive art installation attempts to put the COVID-19 deaths in perspective

15 minutes

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Stories and literature

Kafka the hypochondriac

Franz Kafka believed illness was at the root of his writing yet he embraced wellness fads with hearty vigour

Will Rees

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Mood and emotion

Hope is not optimism

Even when you know that prospects are grim, hope can help. It’s not just a feeling, but a way to step into the future

David B Feldman & Benjamin W Corn

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Medicine

The body is not a machine

Modern biomedicine sees the body as a closed mechanistic system. But illness shows us to be permeable, ecological beings

Nitin K Ahuja

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History of science

Healthcare workers of yore

Looking past conventional histories of medicine we see that women delivered much of medieval healthcare. Just as today

Sara Ritchey

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Meaning and the good life

To know or not to know? Lillian weighs the costs of a life-changing genetic test

10 minutes

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Food and drink

The food wars

Vitamins or whole foods; high-fat or low-fat; sugar or sweetener. Will we ever get a clear idea about what we should eat?

Amos Zeeberg

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Pleasure and pain

Apocalypse, please

The COVID-19 pandemic, like other catastrophes before it, got some of us hooked on phobic energy and terror. Why?

Travis Alexander

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Art

Art from a mind at sea

Louise’s Parkinsonism didn’t tamp her artistic drive, but exposed the link between perception, thought and creativity

Michael P H Stanley

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Anthropology

On the run from COVID-19, an Indigenous family treks deep into the Amazon rainforest

17 minutes

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Global history

Plagues and empires

What can the decline of the Roman Empire and the end of European feudalism tell us about COVID-19 and the future of the West?

John Rapley

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Mental health

The seed of suffering

The p-factor is the dark matter of psychiatry: an invisible, unifying force that might lie behind a multitude of mental disorders

Alex Riley