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Space sex is serious business

4 minutes

Poetry of perception: ‘We Grow Accustomed to the Dark’

2 minutes

Tusalava

9 minutes

How ISPs violate the laws of mathematics

6 minutes

How hairworms highjack a cricket

5 minutes

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Everything you always wanted to know about sex in space

If you take NASA at its word, no human beings have ever had sex in space. So far, during manned missions in Earth’s orbit, sex has been treated as something best avoided rather than an issue of import. But if we plan on making trips to Mars any time in the foreseeable future, or seek to colonise other planets, it will be crucial to know how sex works (or doesn’t) beyond our atmosphere. Indeed, based on the little we’ve gathered from trial runs with other animals, space sex and reproduction could prove to be confoundingly tricky. A companion video to an article that first appeared on FiveThirtyEight, this witty and informative collage-style animation delivers the ‘space sex talk’ you didn’t know you needed.

Researcher and Narrator: Maggie Koerth-Baker

Writer and Producer: Christine Laskowski

Designer and Animator: Tom McCarten

Sound Designer and Music Editor: Redhorse Studio

Art Director: Kate LaRue

Production Support: Tony Chow, Lila Cherneff, Jorge Estrada

Copy Editors: Colleen Barry, John Forsyth, Meghan Ashford-Grooms

Senior Science Editor: Blythe Terrell

Production Manager: Catherine Sankey

Director of Video Development: Adam Neuhaus

Director of Video Production: Ryan Nantell

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‘Then – fit our Vision to the Dark’: exploring sight with Emily Dickinson

Written by Emily Dickinson during the depths of the US Civil War, the untitled poem known as ‘We Grow Accustomed to the Dark’ conjures hope and perseverance amid waves of chaos and uncertainty. In this animation, the UK filmmaker and illustrator Hannah Jacobs visualises the poem in fleeting scenes that oscillate between vibrant colour and darkness, through which human figures careen. Beginning with an epigraph drawing a parallel between artistic and scientific discovery, the video was created for an online neuroscience course at Harvard University as part of a series that explores the human sensory experience through poetry and animation.

Animator: Hannah Jacobs

Producer: Nadja Oertelt

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Life emerges, evolves and fights for supremacy in this 1929 avant-garde classic

The New Zealand-born artist Leonard Charles Huia Lye (1901-80), better known as Len Lye, is renowned for his work in kinetic sculpture and experimental film, and is widely considered one of the most innovative modernists of the 20th century. Lye’s first film, Tusalava (1929), produced over two years following a move to London, was born of the city’s emerging experimental film scene and Lye’s abiding interest in Maori, Aboriginal and Samoan art. Composed of some 7,000 hand-drawn images, the abstract animation synthesises modern and ancient art as it depicts simple life forms emerging, evolving and coming into conflict. As with the influence of African art on Pablo Picasso, Lye’s use of so-called ‘primitivism’ has been both praised for introducing non-Western perspectives to Western art, and criticised for cultural appropriation. The film was originally paired with a now-lost piano score from the UK-born composer Jack Ellitt. This version features the UK composer Eugene Goossens’s composition Rhythmic Dance (1928), which Lye later suggested as an alternative accompaniment.

Director: Len Lye

Score: Eugene Goossens

Websites: The Len Lye Foundation, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

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If simple logic isn’t working with your internet company, try Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory

This tongue-in-cheek animation from the US YouTuber Henry Reich – the mind behind MinutePhysics – is a creative exercise in how not to lose your cool when faced with the abyss of illogic. Recalling the mundane, mindnumbing tribulations of trying to get a straight answer on billing from his internet service provider (ISP), Reich concludes that the company isn’t just guilty of subpar customer service – their policies also break nearly every fundamental law of modern mathematics. Reich’s clever excoriation of telecommunication companies was created for The Festival of Bad Ad Hoc Hypotheses (BAHFest), an annual ‘celebration of well-argued and thoroughly researched but completely incorrect scientific theories’.

Video by MinutePhysics

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Mind control and zombification do exist. Just look at these crickets

Warning: this video is not for the squeamish.

Mayflies make a quick and nutritious snack for crickets. But, rather unfortunately for the cricket population of California, some mayflies are home to hairworms (nematomorphs) – parasitic creatures that will stop at nothing to make their way back to water. Once consumed, hairworms feed off crickets from the inside, absorbing all of their lipids, and eventually putting the cricket in a state of developmental and reproductive limbo. Worse still, once these fast-growing parasites reach their adult length of one to two feet, they zombify their hosts, unleashing brain chemicals that make the infected crickets wander aimlessly until they hit water, where the worms make their final escape and start the whole cycle anew. By studying this process, scientists hope to learn more about how brain parasites might affect human behaviour. The ordeal is captured in microscopic detail in this episode of the often creepy, always fascinating science documentary series Deep Look. Read more about the video at KQED Science.

Video by KQED Science

Producer and Writer: Gabriela Quirós

Narrator and Writer: Lauren Sommer

Cinematographer: Josh Cassidy

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Everything you always wanted to know about sex in space

If you take NASA at its word, no human beings have ever had sex in space. So far, during manned missions in Earth’s orbit, sex has been treated as something best avoided rather than an issue of import. But if we plan on making trips to Mars any time in the foreseeable future, or seek to colonise other planets, it will be crucial to know how sex works (or doesn’t) beyond our atmosphere. Indeed, based on the little we’ve gathered from trial runs with other animals, space sex and reproduction could prove to be confoundingly tricky. A companion video to an article that first appeared on FiveThirtyEight, this witty and informative collage-style animation delivers the ‘space sex talk’ you didn’t know you needed.

Researcher and Narrator: Maggie Koerth-Baker

Writer and Producer: Christine Laskowski

Designer and Animator: Tom McCarten

Sound Designer and Music Editor: Redhorse Studio

Art Director: Kate LaRue

Production Support: Tony Chow, Lila Cherneff, Jorge Estrada

Copy Editors: Colleen Barry, John Forsyth, Meghan Ashford-Grooms

Senior Science Editor: Blythe Terrell

Production Manager: Catherine Sankey

Director of Video Development: Adam Neuhaus

Director of Video Production: Ryan Nantell

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Essay/
Evolution
The Neanderthal renaissance

Handprints on a cave wall, crumbs from a meal: the new science of Neanderthals radically recasts the meaning of humanity

Rebecca Wragg Sykes

Essay/
Genetics
Hormones united

The hormone system works like a democracy: every tissue in the body is an endocrine organ asserting its needs and demands

Liam Drew