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Society

Essays and videos on social issues, history, political life and the future
We’ve always been distracted | Aeon
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essay

History of technology

We’ve always been distracted

Worried that technology is ‘breaking your brain’? Fears about attention spans and focus are as old as writing itself

Joe Stadolnik

London mudlark | Aeon
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video

Archaeology

From Roman pots to glass eyes, the shore of the river Thames teems with surprises

8 minutes

Great art explained: Edward Hopper and cinema | Aeon
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video

Art

Edward Hopper came of age with cinema. As an artist, he left a lasting mark on it

12 minutes

Obon | Aeon
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video

Biography and memoir

What Akiko saw at the centre of the Hiroshima blast, and the indelible mark it left

15 minutes

Care from afar | Aeon
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History of technology

Care from afar

For over a century telemedicine has promised healthcare for all. But will it ever replace seeing a human being in person?

Jeremy A Greene

What was the first transit map? | Aeon
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video

The ancient world

Why did the Romans create a massive, entirely impractical map of their empire?

7 minutes

If you love this planet | Aeon
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video

War and peace

A peace activist’s harrowing account of nuclear war is a visceral case for disarmament

26 minutes

Dancing with water | Aeon
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essay

Environmental history

Dancing with water

As storms, droughts and floods become more intense, what can the world learn from Japan’s profoundly wet history?

Giulio Boccaletti

Origin of the world map | Aeon
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video

History of technology

Master cartography and mythical creatures – the world according to the Catalan Atlas

8 minutes

Delia Derbyshire and Doctor Who | Aeon
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video

Music

Before the Beatles dropped acid, a BBC workshop was creating far-out sounds

6 minutes

Rain pot | Aeon
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video

Making

Ceramic designs spin to life in a tactile meditation on the art of pottery

9 minutes

EXCLUSIVEThe Japanese sword as the soul of the samurai | Aeon
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video

History of technology

A rare glimpse inside a samurai sword workshop, where ritual meets mastery

24 minutes

How does a quantum computer work? | Aeon
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video

Computing and artificial intelligence

From ‘chandeliers’ to entangled qubits, here’s what happens inside a quantum computer

9 minutes

Contaminated kinship | Aeon
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essay

Environmental history

Contaminated kinship

If your hometown were beset with toxic dust, like Australia’s Broken Hill, would you feel any less connected to it?

Lilian Pearce

The invention of trousers | Aeon
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video

History of technology

Unravelling the surprisingly epic story of the world’s oldest pair of trousers

45 minutes

Inka khipu | Aeon
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video

History of technology

Reading the strings and knots that keep the secrets of the Inka Empire

9 minutes

Sounding the Sumburgh foghorn | Aeon
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video

History of technology

Behold as a mechanical foghorn in Shetland awakes from its year-long slumber

2 minutes

Trolls be gone | Aeon
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essay

Information and communication

Trolls be gone

Anonymous users generate most toxic abuse and conspiracy theories online. The right to be anonymous should be curtailed

Stephen Kinsella

When Vikings lived in North America | Aeon
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video

Archaeology

A Viking axe struck a Newfoundland tree in the year 1021. Here’s how scientists proved it

7 minutes

Magnetic river | Aeon
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video

Physics

In this 1975 lecture, the maglev train’s inventor deconstructs his ingenious design

19 minutes

Captured images | Aeon
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video

History of technology

Remarkable historical footage is locked behind paywalls. It’s time to set it free

4 minutes

Small is beautiful: impressions of Fritz Schumacher | Aeon
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video

Thinkers and theories

Bigger isn’t better – the renegade ‘Buddhist economics’ of E F Schumacher

30 minutes

Pixel: a biography | Aeon
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essay

History of technology

Pixel: a biography

An exact mathematical concept, pixels are the elementary particles of pictures, based on a subtle unpacking of infinity

Alvy Ray Smith

Typos, tricks and misprints | Aeon
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essay

Language and linguistics

Typos, tricks and misprints

Why is English spelling so weird and unpredictable? Don’t blame the mix of languages; look to quirks of timing and technology

Arika Okrent