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Beautiful things might amaze and rouse us, but the sublime affects us in a more profound way. It’s overwhelming, even frightening, and can leave us with a deep and lasting sense of wonder. But why do potential dangers, such as a foreboding storm on the horizon or the view from the edge of a cliff, exhilarate the human mind? The 18th-century philosopher and writer Edmund Burke thought that the sublime involves the possibility of pain, which triggers feelings of self-preservation – a visceral response that moves from the body to the mind.
Love evolves and death isn’t worth your worry – life lessons from an 88-year-old
Film and visual culture
A series of animated illusions illustrates how we project depth on to flat surfaces
Building ‘bigger and better’ has pushed cosmology forward. Can it take it any further?
How Hokusai’s Great Wave emerged from Japan’s isolation to become a global icon
The ancient world
Not a lost kingdom but a parable – how to read Athens in Plato’s story of Atlantis
Meaning and the good life
Albert Camus built a philosophy of humanity on a foundation of absurdity
When two punk bands came to a psychiatric hospital, beautiful chaos ensued
Check in to the Hilbert Hotel, and learn why some infinities are bigger than others
Cognition and intelligence
How a ‘periodic table’ of animal intelligence could help to root out human bias