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Science

Essays and videos exploring physics, evolution, cosmology and other frontiers in science
Silhouette of a man, a child, and a cow with large horns sitting on the ground at sunset.
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Progress and modernity

In praise of magical thinking

Once we all had knowledge of how to heal ourselves using plants and animals. The future would be sweeter for renewing it

Anna Badkhen

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

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

A patient plays the violin while undergoing brain surgery, surrounded by surgeons and medical staff wearing scrubs and masks in an operating theatre.
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Neuroscience

Rethinking the homunculus

When we discovered that the brain contained a map of the body it revolutionised neuroscience. But it’s time for an update

Moheb Costandi

Cartoon man with white hair and moustache smiling while holding pliers and a bloody tooth inside a candlelit building, against a snowy village background.
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Medicine

Why surgery and barbering were one occupation in the Middle Ages

6 minutes

A black and white photo of a man in doctor’s clothing posed next to a lab bench with a microscope looking directly at the camera
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Medicine

Physician, invade thyself

Eager for medical breakthroughs, some doctors take enormous risks experimenting on themselves. Should we celebrate them?

Tom Doyle

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

Paramedic loading a stretcher into an ambulance at night with lighted buildings in the background.
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video

Medicine

What is it like to be a paramedic, navigating human emergency?

17 minutes

Silhouette of a person peering through blinds in a dimly lit room, with a pet carrier on the bed below.
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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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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

Shocked

With evidence for efficacy so thin, and the stakes so high, why is ‘electroshock’ therapy still a mainstay of psychiatry?

John Read

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Illness and disease

Natural and unnatural

‘Natural’ remedies are metaphysically inconsistent and unscientific. Yet they offer something that modern medicine cannot

Alan Jay Levinovitz

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Illness and disease

Beautiful monsters

Cancer is part of multicellular life. Now the riotous growth of crested cacti show how humans might adapt to live with it

Athena Aktipis

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Medicine

Life and breath

There’s a strange, and deeply human, story behind how we taught machines to breathe for critically ill patients

Sarah Ruth Bates

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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

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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

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idea

Medicine

Gentle medicine could radically transform medical practice

Jacob Stegenga

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video

Biotechnology

How harnessing the power of dogs could help scientists sniff out cancer early

7 minutes

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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 tradeoffs of the lockdown?

Silvia Camporesi

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Future of technology

Engines of life

At the level of the tiny, biology is all about engineering. That’s why nanotechnology can rebuild medicine from within

Sonia Contera

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Illness and disease

Chemobrain is real. Here’s what to expect after cancer treatment

Anton Isaacs

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Medicine

No patient is an island

How a concern to protect the autonomy of patients leads to the exclusion of families just when they are needed the most

Anita Ho

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Animals and humans

Rats are us

They are sentient beings with rich emotional lives, yet we subject them to experimental cruelty without conscience. Why?

Kristin Andrews & Susana Monsó

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Bioethics

Neither person nor cadaver

The body is warm, but the brain has gone dark: why the notion of brain death provokes the thorniest of medical dilemmas

Sharon Kaufman