Support Aeon

‘Aeon is consistently the place to find excellent, provocative and thoughtful writing. One of my favourite places to find new writers and new ideas.’

Professor Sophie Kerttu Scott, UK, Friend of Aeon

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.
But we can’t do it without you.

Donate now

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.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Donate now

Buffalo dreams

16 minutes

Tusalava

9 minutes

How ISPs violate the laws of mathematics

6 minutes

How hairworms highjack a cricket

5 minutes

Outside in Beijing

16 minutes

Published in association with
Scottish Documentary Institute
an Aeon Partner

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

One man’s quixotic quest to bring American bison to his Scottish homeland

‘Other people would probably think I’m mad, but everything starts from somewhere.’

Consumed by the idea of bringing American bison (commonly called ‘buffalo’) to his native Scotland, Scott Shand became the country’s first commercial bison farmer after buying a herd and relocating it to the small coastal village of Muchalls. Between working 12-hour night shifts at an undersea-equipment manufacturing company, Scott, together with his family and several business partners, tends to the herd and attempts to turn the venture into a successful business. Buffalo Dreams finds the animals struggling to adapt to the Scottish climate, and Scott struggling to keep his dream of a thriving Scottish bison farm alive. Wistful and beautifully shot, Maurice O’Brien’s film captures a slow collision between dreams and reality, and explores the complex and delicate interplay between people, animals and environments.

Director: Maurice O’Brien

Website: Morning Top Films

Published in association with
Scottish Documentary Institute
an Aeon Partner

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

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

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

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

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

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

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

Human capital: art, exercise and industry in the streets of Beijing

As preparations for the 2008 Summer Olympics were transforming swathes of Beijing, the Portuguese filmmaker Sérgio Cruz was exploring the city’s streets and public spaces with his camera. Taking an observational approach, Cruz found a metropolis undergoing rapid development, while in pockets its distinctive traditions and pastimes continued unabated. Amid cacophonous construction and air pollution heavy on the skyline, there’s a rich and unceasing pulse of communal life – what Cruz calls ‘a 24-hour live show full of music, dance and sports’. A choir gathers to sing in an underground tunnel; a group practises synchronised tai chi under a basketball hoop in a park; couples dance in a public square at dusk. While deliberately paced, Cruz’s short film is not unlike the curious tourist who breaks away from the planned itinerary to seek out excitement and small surprises around every new corner.

Director: Sérgio Cruz

Published in association with
Scottish Documentary Institute
an Aeon Partner

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

One man’s quixotic quest to bring American bison to his Scottish homeland

‘Other people would probably think I’m mad, but everything starts from somewhere.’

Consumed by the idea of bringing American bison (commonly called ‘buffalo’) to his native Scotland, Scott Shand became the country’s first commercial bison farmer after buying a herd and relocating it to the small coastal village of Muchalls. Between working 12-hour night shifts at an undersea-equipment manufacturing company, Scott, together with his family and several business partners, tends to the herd and attempts to turn the venture into a successful business. Buffalo Dreams finds the animals struggling to adapt to the Scottish climate, and Scott struggling to keep his dream of a thriving Scottish bison farm alive. Wistful and beautifully shot, Maurice O’Brien’s film captures a slow collision between dreams and reality, and explores the complex and delicate interplay between people, animals and environments.

Director: Maurice O’Brien

Website: Morning Top Films

Published in association with
Scottish Documentary Institute
an Aeon Partner

Get Aeon straight
to your inbox
Join our newsletter
Aeon is not-for-profit
and free for everyone
Make a donation
Essay/
Technology and the self
Who pushes the button?

From elevators to iPhones, the rise of pushbuttons has provoked a century of worries about losing the human touch

Rachel Plotnick

Essay/
Making
Material intelligence

The chasm between producers and consumers leaves many of us estranged from beauty and a vital part of an ethical life

Glenn Adamson