Space sex is serious business

4 minutes

Don’t think twice

12 minutes

EXCLUSIVE

Ping pong Sufi

11 minutes

Is Eric Cantona an existentialist?

3 minutes

No ball games

14 minutes

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

As dementia trims the tree of knowledge in John’s brain, music holds firm

At the age of 24, John Fudge took a violent fall while climbing the white cliffs of Dover in the south of England, splitting open his head and losing consciousness. The extent of his injuries weren’t revealed until decades later, when doctors decided to perform a brain scan after John slipped into a deep depression. The results revealed extensive brain damage, including a progressive form of dementia. Now, 10 years on from his diagnosis, John’s wife Geraldine compares his brain to an oak tree, its limbs of knowledge being slowly trimmed away, causing John great mental anguish. His only relief comes when he’s able to live in the moment, such as when he plays guitar and sings – his musical abilities being an as-yet untrimmed branch. Don’t Think Twice offers an insight into John’s life, including visits from Jon, a young volunteer who joins him for music sessions at home. An affecting and unusually honest portrait of dementia, the UK director Harry Hitchens leaves his viewers to find relief and peace, like John, in the musical moments tucked in between difficult realities.

Director: Harry Hitchens

Producer: Chloe Abrahams

Website: Everyday Studio

‘I’m just measuring myself with myself’ – ping pong as a route to Sufi spiritual practice

A practitioner of the inward-looking form of Islam known as Sufism, Noah Nazir pursues self-improvement as a means of connecting with God. This is especially true at the ping pong table at his local Sufi centre in Sheffield, where Nazir is ever in search of new and creative ways to up his game. And, as he relays in Ping Pong Sufi, his striving has yielded some impressive results. Despite his age and a recent stroke, he’s one of the centre’s best players – even though, he stresses, he views his only competition as from within, commenting: ‘I’m just measuring myself with myself.’ The UK filmmakers Rachel Genn and Connor Matheson cultivate an appropriately meditative mood in their short documentary, made in 2019, capturing Nazir as he seeks transcendence through ping pong and prayer. The result is an illuminating and novel window into Sufi spiritual practice, which is given a musical lift by the multitalented Nazir, who also composed the song that plays over the closing credits.

Directors: Rachel Genn, Connor Matheson

What would Sartre make of the footballer who stood by his decision to kick a fan?

The most infamous kick of the French footballer Eric Cantona’s accomplished career wasn’t a game-winning goal, but rather an airborne attack on a fan who was shouting abuse at him during a match in 1995. When asked to reflect on the incident some two decades later, Cantona stated: ‘I love it and I don’t regret it … I am not a role model … I am just a human being with emotion.’ This short animation from the Illustrated Philosopher series – written by Nigel Warburton, consultant senior editor at Aeon – ponders whether Cantona proved himself an unlikely existentialist by refusing to succumb to the pressure to express contrition.

Writer and Narrator: Nigel Warburton

Animation: Cognitive Media

Immerse yourself in the games kids play when the streets are their playground

The London-based filmmaker Charlotte Regan’s charming documentary No Ball Games tracks the nuances of play between young friends in three working-class neighbourhoods across the UK. Capturing the joy of an aimless summer’s day spent finding fun, the film celebrates the instinctual ability of children to cook up their own entertainment from scratch – including, in this case, wresting directing duties from the filmmakers from time to time. With an immersive style, Regan’s film transports viewers into a world of resourcefulness, invention and fun that’s rarely accessed – and perhaps even forgotten – by those burdened by the quotidian concerns of adulthood.

Director: Charlotte Regan

Producer: Theo Barrowclough

Website: Guardian Documentaries

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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