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Although his master’s thesis on the topic was rejected by the University of Chicago’s anthropology department, it’s hard to discount the acuity of the US writer Kurt Vonnegut’s theory of ‘story shapes’. This archival video features Vonnegut using a chalkboard and his famous deadpan wit to map out three highly familiar narrative arcs that seem to have lost none of their popularity despite countless iterations. He addressed story shapes at greater length in his essay collection A Man Without a Country (2005). The US graphic designer Maya Eilam later adapted his archetypes into a series of handy infographics, which can be viewed at her website.
Image from A Man Without a Country
Philosophy of mind
Forget babbling and toddling – mindreading is babies’ most incredible skill
Water, salt and music form a mesmerising visualisation of sound waves
Sex and sexuality
What does the Dutch model of comprehensive, ‘shame-free’ sex-ed look like?
Film and visual culture
A Palme d’Or-winning animation toys with the way our eyes perceive light
How a self-taught autistic artist mines creativity from life’s endless variations
Nature and landscape
An afternoon with hobbyist diamond miners in Arkansas is a thing of rare beauty
What can a Kurosawa classic tell us about reality, knowledge and truth?
Witness the majesty of moths taking flight at 6,000 frames per second
Jocelyn Bell discovered pulsars. The Nobel Prize went to her supervisor