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Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.
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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.

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.

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Riding light

45 minutes

The plodding photon, or how the speed of light looks sluggish on a galactic scale

According to Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity, the speed of light (approximately 299,792 kilometres – or roughly 7.5 rotations around the Earth – per second in a vacuum) is the Universe’s speed limit, and therefore the fastest we could ever hope to travel through space. Swift as it might seem, when it comes to traversing the vast expanses between solar systems and galaxies, it’s still very slow-going. Indeed, the nearest galaxy to the Milky Way, Canis Major, is 25,000 light years away. Set to a mesmerising score by the US composer Steve Reich, Riding Light is an illuminating look at light speed, simulating the journey of a photon from the Sun’s surface to just beyond Jupiter’s orbit. For a brisker take, see a condensed, three-minute version of the same video here.

Director: Alphonse Swinehart

Video/Biology

Discover the astounding, pulsing life of a seemingly immobile coral reef

4 minutes

ORIGINAL
Video/Human Rights

Free speech is vital to human flourishing, but it’s in a decade-long slump

5 minutes

Video/History

An African-American revolutionary and fugitive reflects on decades of exile in Cuba

13 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