The death of Julius Caesar

8 minutes

Talking heads

15 minutes

Lee Smolin: space and time

9 minutes

Another Hayride

18 minutes

Why do we, like, hesitate when we, um, speak?

6 minutes

Plotting, premonition and chaotic violence – an ancient account of Caesar’s demise

‘The body of Caesar lay just where it fell, ignominiously stained with blood – a man who had advanced westward as far as Britain and the Ocean, and who had intended to advance eastward against the realms of the Parthians and Indians, so that, with them also subdued, an empire of all land and sea might be brought under the power of a single head. There he lay.’

Nicolaus of Damascus was a prominent Jewish writer, philosopher and statesman of the first centuries BCE and CE. More than earning his multi-hyphenate status, during his life he served as a tutor to the children of Antony and Cleopatra and met, as an emissary, the emperor Augustus, writing, among other works, his biography – from which this vivid account of Julius Caesar’s assassination is excerpted. A haunting depiction of one of the most infamous moments in history, his retelling is rich with context, dramatic ironies and illustrative details, including glimpses into the Roman Senates’ plotting and the chaotic violence of the ultimate act.

Want an unvarnished window into the world of kids? Try cutting their hair

In the Dutch documentary series Talking Heads, the host and seasoned children’s hairdresser Marko Suds provides a window into the eclectic worlds of the eight- to 12-year-old kids who populate his salon chair. The far-reaching discussions span the challenges, passions and dreams of the diverse young patrons – all while the endearing Suds carefully observes their instructions for an ideal hairstyle. In this first episode of the series, Suds cuts and communes with Marijn, who ponders meeting his sperm donor father; Taysen, who’s tired after a night spent watching a television programme about criminal fugitives; Zhuan, who has Tourette’s syndrome; and Annemarie, whose beloved father has had a debilitating stroke.

Director: Menno Otten

Websites: Keplerfilm

Time is fundamental, space is emergent – why physicists are rethinking reality

From Isaac Newton’s ‘absolute space’ and ‘absolute time’, which envisioned the two phenomena as fundamental and separate, to Albert Einstein’s ‘spacetime’, which condensed them into a single concept, the relationship between space and time has been the mystery driving fundamental physics for more than four centuries. And over the past several decades, some physicists, including Lee Smolin of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada, have come to believe that the fabric of reality is perhaps due to be torn into yet again. In this interview with Robert Lawrence Kuhn for the series Closer to Truth, Smolin discusses how developments in quantum mechanics have left physicists with questions that special relativity can’t seem to accommodate, and why the solution might be a conception of reality in which time is fundamental, and space emergent.

Video by Closer to Truth

The controversial New Age guru who believed self-love healed all – even AIDS

For gay men living with HIV and AIDS in the 1980s, their diagnosis was often accompanied by both fear for their lives and shame for having contracted a highly stigmatised disease. In Another Hayride, the US filmmaker Matt Wolf explores how the US self-help guru Louise Hay (1926-2017) gained an ardent following among HIV-positive gay men in Los Angeles, and then among people experiencing trauma throughout the country, by teaching that they could heal themselves through self-love. The short documentary is built from archival footage – the US talk show hosts Oprah Winfrey and Phil Donahue make cameos – and narration from the US writer and minister David Ault, who attended Hay’s weekly ‘Hayride’ support groups. Through his portrait, Wolf offers a nuanced recollection of Hay and her gospel of New Age healing, in which extraordinary compassion and magical thinking both played central roles.

Director: Matt Wolf

Producer: Sam Bisbee

Ums, likes and y’knows get no respect – but they’re vital to conversation

If you’ve ever listened to a recording of yourself speaking, the frequency with which you used fillers such as ‘um’, ‘uh’, ‘like’ and ‘y’know’ might have grabbed your attention – and perhaps your scorn. Indeed, these verbal hesitations have been viewed as undesirable since the days of ancient Greece and, more recently, the American linguist Noam Chomsky characterised them as ‘errors’ irrelevant to language. But could there be more to these utterances than initially meets the ear? In this short animation from TED-Ed, Lorenzo García-Amaya, assistant professor of Spanish at the University of Michigan, reveals how ‘filled pauses’ can give conversation partners important context clues, communicate emphasis, help tether related thoughts together, and so much more.

Video by TED-Ed

Writer: Lorenzo García-Amaya

Animator: Yael Reisfeld

Plotting, premonition and chaotic violence – an ancient account of Caesar’s demise

‘The body of Caesar lay just where it fell, ignominiously stained with blood – a man who had advanced westward as far as Britain and the Ocean, and who had intended to advance eastward against the realms of the Parthians and Indians, so that, with them also subdued, an empire of all land and sea might be brought under the power of a single head. There he lay.’

Nicolaus of Damascus was a prominent Jewish writer, philosopher and statesman of the first centuries BCE and CE. More than earning his multi-hyphenate status, during his life he served as a tutor to the children of Antony and Cleopatra and met, as an emissary, the emperor Augustus, writing, among other works, his biography – from which this vivid account of Julius Caesar’s assassination is excerpted. A haunting depiction of one of the most infamous moments in history, his retelling is rich with context, dramatic ironies and illustrative details, including glimpses into the Roman Senates’ plotting and the chaotic violence of the ultimate act.

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Detail of Battle against the inhabitants of Veii and Fidenae (c1598), by Guiseppe Cesari, also known as the Cavaliere d’Arpino. The National Gallery, London. Courtesy Wikipedia

Essay/
Nations and empires
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The Tarkhan Dress is the world’s oldest woven garment with radiocarbon testing dating the garment to the late fourth-millennium BC. Image courtesy the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, UCL

Essay/
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