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At its best, American football is full of grace, strategy and thrills. Unfortunately, many of the components that have made the sport so popular – speed, power, contact – also make it extremely dangerous, especially when played at the highest level. Recent research has overwhelmingly shown that, over time, even routine football collisions contribute to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease. However, the most dangerous hits are those that result in traumatic brain injuries. In 2017, the National Football League (NFL) recorded the highest number of such injuries since it started keeping track six years ago, even as it has attempted to make the game safer. A different kind of ‘highlight reel’, this short film from the US filmmaker and data visualisation artist Josh Begley features all 281 reported concussions from the 2017 NFL season. By manipulating the speed and direction of the footage, Begley grapples with both the sport’s allure and its brutality.
Ecology and environmental sciences
The ancient Hawaiian myth that sparked a modern ecological breakthrough
‘Dun dun dun duuun!’ Why Beethoven’s Fifth sticks in the head and stirs the heart
The irreverent duo who thumbed their noses at the Soviet Union and the US art world
Computing and artificial intelligence
A scientist’s poor eyesight helped fuel a revolution in computer ‘vision’
Ageing and death
Demystifying death – a palliative care specialist’s practical guide to life’s end
Future of technology
Is this the future of space travel? Take a luxury ‘cruise’ across the solar system
Why mathematical truths exist with or without minds to consider them
Stories and literature
A French Creole folktale nearly lost to time is given new, gorgeously animated life
Food and drink
Is a ‘gastronomic society’ dinner the height of decadence, or an act of artistry?