Our ignorance about gravity

6 minutes

Hurricane Katrina, frame by frame

6 minutes

A woman like me

9 minutes

The super zoom

3 minutes

Are you really addicted to your phone?

3 minutes

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

Why Newton’s ‘law of universal gravitation’ is not so universal after all

Isaac Newton’s law of universal gravitation is many things – revolutionary, elegant, mysterious – but, as it turns out, one thing we know for sure is that it’s not, well, universal. On the scale of our solar system, Newton’s observation – that objects attract one another with a force proportional to their mass and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them – holds up. But, as with so many mathematical laws, when it comes to black holes, things break down. The law also doesn’t work for the kinds of objects we interact with in our daily life, such as people, pencils and peanuts. This scale has proven extremely tricky to measure, and it gets even more imprecise at the scale of particles. This short animated explainer from MinutePhysics dissects the many things we know about gravitational force, and the many things we still have left to learn.

Video by MinutePhysics

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

Who is ‘looting’ and who is ‘finding food’? How image gatekeepers shape the news

In August 2005, Alysia Burton Steele was just two months into her job as a photo editor on The Dallas Morning News when she decided to dispatch the photographer Irwin Thompson to New Orleans to document the impact of Hurricane Katrina. Her newspaper’s bold journalistic work went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography in 2006. In this short interview, Burton Steele describes how her team approached their coverage of the storm and its aftermath, and discusses the telling disparity between how news outlets presented African Americans and white people affected by the tragedy. This video is part of Topic’s Frame by Frame series, in which ‘celebrated photojournalists explore images of the people and events that helped shape the American experience, and discuss how working with photographs impacts them personally’.

Director: Yvonne Michelle Shirley

Producer: Jennie Bedusa

Website: Topic

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

When a deafblind woman from Denmark met a woman like her in Nepal

‘I dreamt I was the deafblind woman we visited … And there was no information, nothing, just isolation.’

Sensory experience, cultural differences and degrees of privilege collide in a meeting between two deafblind women: Dorte Eriksen from Denmark and Budhi Maya Gurung from Nepal. Commissioned by the Danish Deafblind Association to document a trip to help deafblind people in Nepal, the Mexican-Danish filmmaker Isabel Morales Bondy found herself filming the two women’s remarkable encounter. A Woman Like Me is assembled entirely without spoken words. Instead, viewers get to see as if through Eriksen’s eyes and hear only what the director does as witness to the women’s language of touch. Acknowledging the opacity of this experience, Morales Bondy chose not to subtitle the women’s meeting, prompting profound questions about language, communication and human connection. 

Director: Isabel Morales Bondy

Producer: Lars Feldballe Petersen

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

A quantum odyssey from the tip of a pen to the dark side of human knowledge

The classic short film Powers of Ten (1977) propelled viewers on a journey from a Chicago park into deep space and then back down to the scale of a single proton. In The Super Zoom, the Brazil-based graphic designer Pedro Machado’s visualisation dives even deeper into the realm of the subatomic and theoretical. While the original film by Charles and Ray Eames zoomed in to a scale of 10-16 metres at most, Machado’s film draws on 40 years of quantum research – not to mention significant advances in 3D rendering technology – to drill down to the unfathomably small scale of 10-33 metres, brushing up against the limits of human knowledge and imagination. The mindbending animation uses a framework of quantum gravity in which a gravitational field exists at these smallest conceivable scales.

Director: Pedro Machado

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

Is ‘tech addiction’ really akin to drug addiction? Here’s what the research says

Over the past two decades or so, industries have sprung up to treat ‘addictions’ to everything from excessive eating or sex to video games. And colloquially, use of the word ‘addictive’ seems to have reached a peak, used in headlines and casual conversations to describe everything from Nutella to the latest streaming series. In this short video from BBC Ideas, Andrew Przybylski, a professor of experimental psychology at the Oxford Internet Institute, examines the phrase ‘technology addiction’, offering a brief history of the term, and ultimately arguing that, unlike research on addictions to gambling, drugs or alcohol, the research on technology addictions is inconclusive. For Przybylski, it’s more than a matter of semantics: given the lack of conclusive research, new ‘addiction’ treatment markets have become fertile ground for opportunists looking to make a quick buck. Also, like conflating sadness with clinical depression, pairing ‘tech addiction’ with medically proven conditions risks minimising very serious brain disorders.

Video by BBC Ideas

Animator: Cheng-Hsu Chung

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

Why Newton’s ‘law of universal gravitation’ is not so universal after all

Isaac Newton’s law of universal gravitation is many things – revolutionary, elegant, mysterious – but, as it turns out, one thing we know for sure is that it’s not, well, universal. On the scale of our solar system, Newton’s observation – that objects attract one another with a force proportional to their mass and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them – holds up. But, as with so many mathematical laws, when it comes to black holes, things break down. The law also doesn’t work for the kinds of objects we interact with in our daily life, such as people, pencils and peanuts. This scale has proven extremely tricky to measure, and it gets even more imprecise at the scale of particles. This short animated explainer from MinutePhysics dissects the many things we know about gravitational force, and the many things we still have left to learn.

Video by MinutePhysics

Get Aeon straight
to your inbox
Join our newsletter
Aeon is not-for-profit
and free for everyone
Make a donation
Essay/
Stories and literature
Orphans and their quests

The sympathetic plot is a type of story, rich in tropes, that is universal to human cultures. With one big twist…

Manvir Singh

Essay/
Philosophy of science
But is it science?

Theoretical physicists who say the multiverse exists set a dangerous precedent: science based on zero empirical evidence

Jim Baggott