Ed Lake
Editorial Director, Profile Books

Ed Lake is an editorial director at Profile Books and former deputy editor of Aeon. He spent five years at The Daily Telegraph before moving to the Middle East to work on The National, where he was deputy editor on the Review section. He is interested in the philosophy of science, the history of political thought, and novels in which a dreamer wakes into a world transformed. He lives in north London.

Written by Ed Lake

Aaron Swartz in San Francisco on February 4, 2008. Noah Berger?Reuters

Computing and artificial intelligence
The info moralist

Persecuted little guy, or powerful revolutionary – what sort of wunderkind was Aaron Swartz?

Ed Lake

Last blow-out: Times Square, New York, on Dec 21, 2012. Photo by Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Bang or whimper?

We’re still here, which means we have a vacancy for an apocalypse scenario. The one we choose could be revealing

Ed Lake

Photo: Andy Sansom/Aeon

Future of technology
Tales on Dark Mountain

Is there anything left for the green movement to do but assuage its grief in ritual and myth?

Ed Lake

Edited by Ed Lake

Revellers take part in “La Vijanera” Festival in Silio, Spain on January 5, 2014. Of pre-Roman origin, the festival sees villagers wearing masks, animal skins and brightly coloured clothing; the embodiment of the survival of archaic cults to nature.Photo by Ervin Sarkisov/Corbis

Ecology and environmental sciences
It’s not easy being green

If rational persuasion fails to make people behave environmentally, could rituals and a dash of guilt do a better job?

Stephen Cave & Sarah Darwin

Barry Falls/Heart Agency

Language and linguistics
Naughty words

What makes swear words so offensive? It’s not their meaning or even their sound. Is language itself a red herring here?

Rebecca Roache

Detail from a 1937 poster ‘See the Land of the Vikings!’ Photo by Corbis

Film and visual culture
Fantasy North

The top of the globe has always meant fantasy, myth, adventure. What explains the icy northern grip on our imagination?

E R Truitt

Matt Clark of the Milwaukee Brewers receives high-fives after his home run, September 10. 2014. Photo by Jeffrey Phelps/Getty

High five!

Why, in the entire history of human life, did awesomeness become the great virtue of our age (and suckiness its vice)?

Nick Riggle

Approaching Kai Tak airport, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Photo by Russ Schleipman/Corbis

Film and visual culture
Dispatches from the ruins

The human world has become bafflingly complex and strangely fragile making apocalypse the easiest thing to imagine

Frank Bures

Wise rebel. James Dean with his grandfather. Fairmount, Indiana. 1955. Photo by Dennis Stock

Ageing and death
Ask the aged

Who better to answer questions about the purpose of life than someone who has been living theirs for a long time?

Karl Pillemer

Big Burger by Tjalf Sparnaay 2015, 180 x 120 cm, oil on linen. Courtesy Bernarducci Meisel Gallery New York

Mood and emotion
The hunger mood

Hunger isn’t in your stomach or your blood-sugar levels. It’s in your mind – and that’s where we need to shape up

Michael Graziano

Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt collect samples from beside the Shorty crater in 1972. Photo NASA

To boldly sell

Space is for sale. And if we want to get serious about our interplanetary ambitions, that could be a good thing

Grayson Clary

Sister Catherine Thomas of the Dominican Sisters of Mary prays in the convents chapel. USA. Ann Arbor, MI. 2011. Photo by Peter van Agtmael/Magnum

Philosophy of religion
Why pray?

Prayer occurs in many faiths. It stays recognisable despite its varied forms. It must be good for something – but what?

Benjamin Dueholm

Meaning and the good life
Is it OK to have kids?

Your decision about whether to procreate is serious. That makes it philosophy’s business, alarming as that might sound

Richard Chappell

Demonstration being carried out of the E-Cat (Energy Catalyzer) cold fusion system, designed by Italian inventor Andrea Rossi. Photo by Massimo Brega/SPL

Philosophy of science
The cold fusion horizon

Is cold fusion truly impossible, or is it just that no respectable scientist can risk their reputation working on it?

Huw Price

Still from the 1956 film version of Orwell’s1984. Photo by Rex Features

Language and linguistics
The ministry of truth

Orwell taught us to fear technocratic jargon that doesn’t let us say what we mean. But that is language at its best

Elijah Millgram

At the National Aquarium, Washington DC. Photo by Getty Images

History of science
Through a glass, sadly

The aquarium was once the best way to encounter the wonders of sea life. It has become a mere travesty, tacky and cruel

Bernd Brunner

A pigeon involved in one of B F Skinner’s experiments. Photo by Bettmann/Corbis

Information and communication
User behaviour

Websites and apps are designed for compulsion, even addiction. Should the net be regulated like drugs or casinos?

Michael Schulson

H Edward Kim/National Geographic Creative


The Amish are online, onscreen, and multiplying fast. In their battle with modernity, it’s tough to say who’s winning

Kevin Williams

One of the 8,000 players of the game ‘ConQuest of Mythodea’ stands on the playing field near Brokeloh, Germany, August 2014. Photo by Peter Steffen/dpa/Corbis

Rituals and celebrations
Great pretenders

Live-action role-play is venturing into some weighty social topics. Can make-believe really show us possible worlds?

Alexa Clay

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