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Mining poems or odes

11 minutes

How ISPs violate the laws of mathematics

6 minutes

How hairworms highjack a cricket

5 minutes

Outside in Beijing

16 minutes

Rediscovering Ancient Greek music

16 minutes

Published in association with
Scottish Documentary Institute
an Aeon Partner

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

The welder-turned-poet who fell in love with words in a Glasgow shipyard

‘Imagine going down into the dirt to find a word that you’re going to elevate up into poetry. That’s mining for me.’

The Scottish poet Robert Fullerton is a former shipyard welder who was an apprentice when he found his love of books thanks to his mentor. Drawing inspiration from the sparks that he imagines as ‘wee thoughts, or wee possibilities, or wee ideas’, Fullerton began crafting poems while working at the shipyard, finding his dark, solitary days provided the ‘perfect thinking laboratory’ for mining words. Like its subject, Mining Poems or Odes finds beauty in language and in the docks of Glasgow, combining Fullerton’s thoughts on mining and lyrical readings of his poetry with scenes from the Govan shipyard’s distinctly working-class milieu. This celebrated short documentary by the Scottish filmmaker Callum Rice played at the Sundance Film Festival in 2016 and won a BAFTA Scotland award for best short in 2015.

Director: Callum Rice

Producer: Jack Cocker

Published in association with
Scottish Documentary Institute
an Aeon Partner

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

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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

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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

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Music was ubiquitous in Ancient Greece. Now we can hear how it actually sounded

Much of what we think of as Ancient Greek poetry, including Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, was composed to be sung, frequently with the accompaniment of musical instruments. And while the Greeks left modern classicists many indications that music was omnipresent in society – from vases decorated with lyres, to melodic notation preserved on stone – the precise character and contours of the music has long been considered irreproducible. However, the UK classicist and classical musician Armand D’Angour has spent years endeavouring to stitch the mysterious sounds of Ancient Greek music back together from large and small hints left behind. In 2017, his work culminated in a unique performance at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, intended to recreate the sounds of Greek music dating as far back as Homer’s era – roughly 700 BCE. This short documentary details the extraordinary research and musical expertise that made the concert possible, revealing remarkable sounds once thought lost to time. To learn more about what music sounded like in Ancient Greece, read D’Angour’s Aeon idea.

Via Open Culture

Director: Mike Tomlinson

Producer: Hannah Veale, James Tomalin

Published in association with
Scottish Documentary Institute
an Aeon Partner

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

The welder-turned-poet who fell in love with words in a Glasgow shipyard

‘Imagine going down into the dirt to find a word that you’re going to elevate up into poetry. That’s mining for me.’

The Scottish poet Robert Fullerton is a former shipyard welder who was an apprentice when he found his love of books thanks to his mentor. Drawing inspiration from the sparks that he imagines as ‘wee thoughts, or wee possibilities, or wee ideas’, Fullerton began crafting poems while working at the shipyard, finding his dark, solitary days provided the ‘perfect thinking laboratory’ for mining words. Like its subject, Mining Poems or Odes finds beauty in language and in the docks of Glasgow, combining Fullerton’s thoughts on mining and lyrical readings of his poetry with scenes from the Govan shipyard’s distinctly working-class milieu. This celebrated short documentary by the Scottish filmmaker Callum Rice played at the Sundance Film Festival in 2016 and won a BAFTA Scotland award for best short in 2015.

Director: Callum Rice

Producer: Jack Cocker

Published in association with
Scottish Documentary Institute
an Aeon Partner

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Essay/
Stories and literature
Queering Shakespeare

So many arguments are given against Shakespeare being gay – yet his sonnets contain their own message, that love is love

Sandra Newman

Essay/
Stories and literature
Islam after Salman

The Satanic Verses would not be written or published today. What’s changed since Salman Rushdie’s notorious novel?

Bruce Fudge