Ross Andersen
Senior Editor, The Atlantic

Ross Andersen is a senior editor at The Atlantic where he oversees the Science, Health and Technology sections. He was formerly the deputy editor of Aeon.

Written by Ross Andersen

Illustration by Claire Scully

In the beginning

Cosmology has been on a long, hot streak, racking up one imaginative and scientific triumph after another. Is it over?

Ross Andersen

Illustration by Michael Marsicano


Elon Musk argues that we must put a million people on Mars if we are to ensure that humanity has a future

Ross Andersen

Illustration by Richard Wilkinson

Food and drink

Wine is an elixir, a miracle-worker and shapeshifter – no wonder even the most secular of us hold it sacred still

Ross Andersen

A Hell of a future. Photo by Martin Barraud/Gallery Stock

Hell on Earth

What happens to life sentences if our lifespan is radically extended? A philosopher talks about future punishment

Ross Andersen

Trails left by circumpolar stars, as viewed from Star Axis, a monumental work of land art in the New Mexico desert. Photo courtesy of Charles Ross

Embracing the void

The ancients had pyramids to tame the sky’s mystery. We have Star Axis, a masterpiece forty years in the making

Ross Andersen

Contemplating the deep future, in light of the past: philosopher Nick Bostrom at the Oxford Museum of Natural History. Photo by Andy Sansom/Aeon Magazine

Computing and artificial intelligence

When we peer into the fog of the deep future what do we see – human extinction or a future among the stars?

Ross Andersen

The world’s oldest living trees, bristlecone pines each stand on their own pedestal of dolomite rock, high in the Californian mountains All photos by Nick Paloukos

Deep time
The vanishing groves

A chronicle of climates past and a portent of climates to come – the telling rings of the bristlecone pine

Ross Andersen

Edited by Ross Andersen

Food at a graveside during the Korean festival of Chusok. Photo by Michel Setboun

Family life
Korean Thanksgiving

‘Take a photo of the spread,’ my mother says. ‘This way you can remember what to arrange when I’m dead.’

Mary H K Choi

Illustration by Matt Murphy

Stories and literature
Future reading

Digital books stagnate in closed, dull systems, while printed books are shareable, lovely and enduring. What comes next?

Craig Mod

Photo by Tamara Staples/Getty

Information and communication
Broken links

When no ancient chat or post is beyond the grasp of Google, what matters more: the right to forget, or to be remembered?

Alana Massey

Out of Siberia. A Nenet woman dressed from head to toe in clothes made from reindeer fur. Photo by Heidi Bradner/Panos


Paleogenetics is helping to solve the great mystery of prehistory: how did humans spread out over the earth?

Jacob Mikanowski

All illustrations by Susie Cagle

Homes for the homeless

San Francisco’s homeless are harangued and despised while conservative Utah has a radically humane approach

Susie Cagle

Photo by Jean Gaumy/Magnum

When the truth hurts

The truth about health or personal relationships can entail pain and regret. Is it sometimes better to stay in the dark?

Jess Whittlestone

Archaelogical excavations in the downtown area of Beirut have unearthed Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Crusader and Ottoman remains. September 2010. Photo by Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty

Rock of ages

Archaeologists used to be obsessed with religion. Now they can’t be bothered with it. Is the field worse off?

Rose Eveleth

BABEL IID Arcology, elevation, population 550,000. From “Arcology: City in the Image of Man”, original publication 1970. Photo courtesy Cosanti Foundation

Desert utopia

It might be pleasing to dream of arcologies, mega-cities, and space colonies – but no one can design the perfect human community

Jared Keller

Detail from The Piltdown Gang by John Cooke, 1915. Image courtesy Wikimedia

What lies beneath

From Piltdown to Mormon seer stones, prehistory has always beckoned the trickster, since bad science makes for good stories

Ted Scheinman

Photo by Christian Scmidt/Gallery Stock

To heaven and back

Is the heaven tourism memoir spiritual kitsch for the superficial seeker, or an earnest attempt to wrestle with death?

Mya Frazier

Chess queen, 1965 Photo by Anna Kaufman Moon/Hulton Archive/Getty

Childhood and adolescence
Where’s Bobbi Fischer?

Little girls sign up to play chess in droves. So why are so few of the world’s top players women?

Hana Schank

Deep into the unknown; a 3 foot diameter hydrothermal vent at the Von Damm vent site. Photo courtesy NOAA

Earth’s aliens

Alien lifeforms might be living right under our noses, but how can we find them if we don’t know what we’re looking for?

Sarah Scoles

The Tollund Man, Denmark. Photo by Christian Kober.Corbis

Deep time
Last hominin standing

Was human evolution inevitable, or do we owe our existence to a once-in-a-universe stroke of luck?

Dan Falk

Photo by Ulrich Lebeuf / M.Y.O.P/ Eyevine

Sex and sexuality

Critics say that porn degrades women, dulls sexual pleasure, and ruins authentic relationships – are they right?

Maria Konnikova

Photo by Gallery Stock

Language and linguistics
See through words

The metaphor designer isn’t trying to make something beautiful. She wants to change your view on things. Here’s how

Michael Erard

Lauren Bowker and her studio THE UNSEEN have come up with a revolutionary fabric that changes color with the wind. Photo courtesy The Unseen/Jonny Lee Photography

Design and fashion
Losing the thread

Older than bronze and as new as nanowires, textiles are technology — and they have remade our world time and again

Virginia Postrel

A pro-government Liberian child militia soldier in Monrovia in 2003. Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty

Human rights and justice
When a child goes to war

Our myths are full of young heroes yet our media calls them tragic victims. What is the truth about child soldiers?

Malcolm Harris

At a concert in Hyde Park, London. June 1975. Photo by Selwyn Tait/Sygma/Corbis

Demography and migration
Against generations

Generational thinking is seductive and confirms preconceived prejudices, but it’s a bogus way to understand the world

Rebecca Onion

A gas flare is seen at an oil well site on 26 July 2013 outside Williston, North Dakota. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty

Earth science and climate
The fire age

We can melt ice sheets and cook landscapes. When humans made fire, they made themselves and their planet too

Stephen J Pyne

Iberian Wolves are proliferating in the Sierra de la Culebra, Spain after an absence of a century. Photo by Steven Ruiter/NiS/Minden Pictures/Corbis

Rethinking extinction

The idea that we are edging up to a mass extinction is not just wrong – it’s a recipe for panic and paralysis

Stewart Brand

Photo by Gary Cameron/Reuters

Biography and memoir
A conscientious objector

Jacob Bridge is a popular lieutenant in the US Marines who woke up one day with an urgent need to leave the military. Why?

Lyle Jeremy Rubin

Image courtesy NASA/JPL/Caltech

Life in the dark

In the dark corners of our galaxy, there are billions of rogue planets roaming around, starless – can they support life?

Sean Raymond

History of technology
Into the mystic

From Stonehenge to Silicon Valley: how technology nurtured New Age ideas in a world supposedly stripped of its magic

Benjamin Breen

Aerial view of salt ponds, Walvis Bay, Namibia. Photo by Frans Lanting/National Geographic

Ecology and environmental sciences
Anthropocene fever

The Anthropocene idea has been embraced by Earth scientists and English professors alike. But how useful is it?

Jedediah Purdy

Detail from Interior with Young Woman from Behind by Vilhelm Hammershoi /Wikimedia

Biography and memoir
Like a prayer

Even secular people need time out to meditate, reflect, and give thanks. Is prayer the answer?

Heather Havrilesky

Paris, 1951. Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Magnum

Food and drink
To tip or not to tip?

Rude in Tokyo, rude not to in New York – tipping mystifies tourists, economists and anthropologists. Should we stop?

Julian Baggini

Macbook x ray. Photo courtesy Jason De Villa

Computing and artificial intelligence
Get under the hood

Our laptops are sleek and polished. Our operating systems are fluid and intuitive. Computing is easy and that’s a problem

Samuel Arbesman

Photo by Getty

Stories and literature
Fact-checking grandma

The internet is rife with myths, scams and hoaxes. When any claim can be checked out, why does fiction still trump fact?

Lyz Lenz

Photo by Corbis

Animals and humans
From Aesop to doge

The animal who speaks in a human voice is a figure of the most enduring imaginative power. What do we hope to hear?

Stassa Edwards

Photo by Gozooma/Gallery Stock

A fault in our design

We tend to think that technological progress is making us more resilient, but it might be making us more vulnerable

Colin Dickey

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