Friends of Aeon donate as little as US$5
a month and enjoy exclusive benefits.

Save and annotate your favourite articles, engage with Aeon
editors and receive our monthly ebook for easy offline reading.

Become a Friend now

Aeon is not-for-profit and needs
your support.

Become a Friend now

The above

9 minutes

550 million years of human evolution

1 minute

Searching for wives

12 minutes

Being 97

18 minutes

20 Hz

5 minutes

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

Why has the US military been flying a balloon over Kabul since 2009?

In Kabul, the bustle of the city – shopping, work, conversation and play – takes place beneath a mysterious US military balloon that has hovered in the sky since 2009. Ominous yet somehow part of the landscape given its omnipresence, the balloon’s precise purpose and capabilities are not disclosed. Part of The Intercept’s Field of Vision documentary series, The Above is both an apt metaphor for the state of global surveillance, and an unsettling glimpse into the increasingly common experience of living with unfamiliar, unwelcome objects overhead.

Director: Kirsten Johnson

Producer: Kirsten Johnson, Marilyn Ness

Editor: Nels Bangerter

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

Human to fish, and back again: a brisk walk through our evolutionary history

Via stints as reptiles, rodents and fish with feet, the evolution of humans is as meandering as it is extraordinary. Reminiscent of a similar sequence from Carl Sagan’s iconic TV series Cosmos (1980), this short animation traces human evolutionary history back 550 million years to a small, primitive fish known as Metaspriggina, believed to be an early ancestor of all living vertebrates. The result is an enlightening overview, not only of our own curious lineage, but of the unpredictable turns that evolution can take for all species.

Director: Jurian Möller

Website: EVO

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

Snap matchmaking: Indian expats seek the perfect picture to get a wife back home

In Singapore’s bustling Little India stands a small photography studio that specialises in helping young men – primarily migrant workers from India – find brides back home. The hundreds of portraits that cover the shop’s walls are testament to the hope that a just-right photo is the route towards a good marriage. Searching for Wives follows a charming truck-driver named Partha as he poses for his portrait to enchant a potential wife and, perhaps even more important, her family. In an era where seeking a match via a single photo and just a few bits of information has become commonplace, the Bhutanese filmmaker Zuki Juno Tobgye offers a rather different perspective on the intersection between technology and traditional arranged marriage.

Director: Zuki Juno Tobgye

Producer: Vigneswari Nagaraj

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

An ageing philosopher returns to the essential question: ‘What is the point of it all?’

‘Being 97 has been an interesting experience.’

By the time of his death, the US philosopher Herbert Fingarette (1921-2018) had lived what most would consider a full and meaningful life. His marriage to his wife, Leslie, was long and happy. His career as professor of philosophy at the University of California, Santa Barbara was both accomplished and controversial – his book Heavy Drinking (1988), which challenged the popular understanding of alcoholism as a progressive disease, was met with criticism in the medical and academic communities. In a later book, Death: Philosophical Soundings (1999), Fingarette contemplated mortality, bringing him to a conclusion that echoed the Epicureans: in non-existence, there is nothing to fear. But as Being 97 makes evident, grappling with death can be quite different when the thoughts are personal rather than theoretical. Filmed during some of the final months of Fingarette’s life, the elegiac short documentary profiles the late philosopher as he reflects on life, loss, the many challenges of old age, and those lingering questions that might just be unanswerable.

Director: Andrew Hasse

Producer: Megan Brooks

Website: FTRMGC

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

Magnetic and majestic: visualising the powerful storms hidden from human view

Violent plasma explosions from the Sun’s surface – known as coronal mass ejections – reverberate to the farthest reaches of our solar system. However, due to the Earth’s protective magnetosphere, most people don’t take note of these events unless a particularly powerful solar flare disrupts radio signals or produces colourful aurorae near the poles. Created as part of an art installation, this inventive, visceral short uses data collected from the University of Alberta’s CARISMA radio array to sonically and visually interpret a geomagnetic storm high in Earth’s atmosphere. Manifesting the data as a dynamic sculpture, the digital rendering captures the volatility of these usually unseen and unheard phenomena, hinting at their potentially destructive powers.

Directors: Ruth Jarman, Joe Gerhardt

Website: Semiconductor Films

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

Why has the US military been flying a balloon over Kabul since 2009?

In Kabul, the bustle of the city – shopping, work, conversation and play – takes place beneath a mysterious US military balloon that has hovered in the sky since 2009. Ominous yet somehow part of the landscape given its omnipresence, the balloon’s precise purpose and capabilities are not disclosed. Part of The Intercept’s Field of Vision documentary series, The Above is both an apt metaphor for the state of global surveillance, and an unsettling glimpse into the increasingly common experience of living with unfamiliar, unwelcome objects overhead.

Director: Kirsten Johnson

Producer: Kirsten Johnson, Marilyn Ness

Editor: Nels Bangerter

Get Aeon straight
to your inbox
Join our newsletter
Aeon is not-for-profit
and free for everyone
Make a donation
Essay/
Technology & the Self
Who pushes the button?

From elevators to iPhones, the rise of pushbuttons has provoked a century of worries about losing the human touch

Rachel Plotnick

Essay/
Making
Material intelligence

The chasm between producers and consumers leaves many of us estranged from beauty and a vital part of an ethical life

Glenn Adamson