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Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

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Triangle of power

8 minutes

Maths notation is needlessly complex. It can and should be better

Making students learn to execute similar operations using three different kinds of notation – as in the case of exponents, logarithms and roots – is a bit like asking them to learn to say the same thing in three different languages for no good reason. With such counterintuitive and redundant standardised notation systems, it’s easy to understand why many students become overwhelmed by mathematics and choose to pursue fields where complex calculations aren’t necessary. This video by Grant Sanderson, who makes films under the moniker 3Blue1Brown, looks at how expressing exponents, logarithms and roots could be made simpler by using one elegant notation system, and makes a broader case for how maths could be made more accessible by developing cleaner – and perhaps even artful – notation.

Video by 3Blue1Brown

Video/Music

What happens when rock stardom doesn’t quite work out?

10 minutes

ORIGINAL
Video/Neuroscience

A happy life is built on pleasures such as sex and food, but also company and variety

7 minutes

Video/Demography & Migration

On the US-Mexico border, loved ones on both sides can see each other but cannot touch

12 minutes

Idea/Space Exploration

To find aliens, we must think of life as we don’t know it

Ramin Skibba

Video/Mathematics

Going from A to B isn’t always a straight line – but it can be very good fun

2 minutes

Essay/Human Evolution

Sex makes babies

As far as we can tell, no other animal knows this. Did our understanding of baby-making change the course of human history?

Holly Dunsworth & Anne Buchanan

Video/Cosmology

We are born of supernovas – our spectacular and totally ordinary origin story

4 minutes

Idea/History of Science

The most wonderful words in science: ‘We have no idea… yet!’

Daniel Whiteson

Essay/Evolution

Aliens in our midst

The ctenophore’s brain suggests that, if evolution began again, intelligence would re-emerge because nature repeats itself

Douglas Fox