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In 1993, inspired by H G Wells’s short story ‘The Country of the Blind’ (1904), the renowned neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks set out to study life on Pingelap – a small Micronesian island where an estimated tenth of the population has achromatopsia, a rare genetic disorder that leaves people close to or entirely colourblind. The results of Sacks’s investigation, compiled in his book The Island of the Colorblind (1996) and explored in this brief animation featuring audio excerpted from a 1998 radio interview, attests to the brain’s – and societies’ – astonishing ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
The cast of ‘misfit toys’ who keep life on an idyllic tourist island afloat
Ageing and death
When his elderly parents make a suicide pact, Doron struggles to accept their choice
Biography and memoir
What Akiko saw at the centre of the Hiroshima blast, and the indelible mark it left
Yes, the Inuit have dozens of words for snow – but what does each one mean exactly?
Technology and the self
One woman prepares for the risky solitude of Georgia O’Keeffe’s American West
The ancient world
Sappho’s homoerotic poetry was beloved in ancient Greece – and burned centuries later
Dance and theatre
From calluses to burnt shoes, the elegance of ballet is built from the ground up
Gender and identity
Timothée built his identity around his absent father. What happens when they meet?
From back pain to addiction – one man’s struggle with opioids, as told to his sister