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Alan Moore: I am in charge of this universe – Tim Martin

Alan Moore is waiting when I get off the train in Northampton, a majestically bearded figure in a hoodie, scanning the crowd that pushes through the …

The role of history in a society afflicted by short-termism – David Armitage Jo Guldi

It has long been fashionable to say that the globe is shrinking. In the wake of the telegraph, the steamship and the railway, thinkers from the late …

How self-harm provokes the brain into feeling better – Carrie Arnold

Here’s what I remember about the first time I cut myself: I was mad. As a writer, I wish I could come up with something more literary, such as: ‘The …

Why are today’s craft beers so bitter? – William Bostwick

Brian Hunt and I sat under a redwood tree in his rutted, gravel driveway in a rural part of Sonoma County, California. We were somewhere around Santa …

When it comes to buying sex, are women any different from men? – Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore

In the middle of every month, when the moon is full, and straight after payday, Louise meets Tom in a smart hotel in north Sydney to indulge in what …

Why broken sleep is a golden time for creativity – Karen Emslie

It is 4.18am. In the fireplace, where logs burned, there are now orange lumps that will soon be ash. Orion the Hunter is above the hill. Taurus, a …

When commercial satellites unite quantum physics and relativity – Sidney Perkowitz

Watching a rocket as it slowly starts to heave itself out of Earth’s deep gravity well and then streaks up into the blue, you suddenly grasp on a …

Forget the lone genius, it’s copycats who drive progress – Kat McGowan

Imitation might be a form of flattery, but it is also a good way to end up in legal trouble. More than 6,000 lawsuits over patent infringements were …

How the public apology became a tool of power and privilege – Nick Smith

Consider this story of corporate contrition. From 1932 to 1968, the Japanese chemical manufacturer Chisso Corporation discharged mercury into …

Why is it so easy to dehumanise a victim of violence? – David Livingstone Smith

In March 1945, <i>Leatherneck Magazine</i>, an official organ of the United States Marine Corps, published a brief, ostensibly humorous article describing a …

Do we really want to use predictive policing to stop crime? – Henrick Karoliszyn

When a troubled young man named Adam Lanza stormed into Sandy Hook Elementary School and slaughtered 20 first-graders and six teachers in a small …

To end inequality we must understand how poverty works – Claire Melamed

Close observers of the development scene will have noticed an interesting shift over the past few years. Where once institutions such as the World …

The next pandemic will be nothing like Ebola – Wendy Orent

The latest epidemic to terrify the Western world is Ebola, a virus that has killed hundreds in Africa in 2014 alone. No wonder there was so much …

Our genome is not a blueprint for making humans at all – Itai Yanai Martin Lercher

Humans are astounding creatures, our unique and highly complex traits encoded by our genome – a vast sequence of DNA ‘letters’ (called nucleotides) …

The feedback loop is a better symbol of life than the helix – Jamie Davies

Here is a remarkable fact about identical twins: they have the same DNA, and therefore the same ‘genetic fingerprint’, yet their actual fingerprints …

We are more rational than those who nudge us – Steven Poole

Humanity’s achievements and its self-perception are today at curious odds. We can put autonomous robots on Mars and genetically engineer malarial …

Artists and Bitcoin miners alike find grace through brute force – Ned Beauman

The first time I went to visit a pair of former artillery sheds on the outskirts of Marfa, Texas, the sun was high in the sky and I knew very little …

How will sexbots change the way we relate to one another? – Leah Reich

There is only one true sexbot that you can go out and buy today. Her name is Roxxxy, and she is a ‘robot companion’ intended to look human, or …

Will new drugs mean the rich live to 120 and the poor die at 60? – Linda Marsa

The disparity between top earners and everyone else is staggering in nations such as the United States, where 10 per cent of people accounted for 80 …

Will human sexuality ever be free from stone age impulses? – Neil McArthur

Literature tells us that our desires know no reason. We read Racine’s <i>Phaedra</i> or Shakespeare’s <i>Romeo and Juliet</i>, and we see people captured by passion, …

Can tiny plankton help reverse climate change? – David Biello

‘Call me Victor,’ says the mustachioed scientist as he picks me up from the airport on a brisk, fall afternoon in Germany. Victor Smetacek is an …

Are halophytes the crop of the future? – Mark Anderson

Ever since ancient times, the sowing of salt has been synonymous with severe and deadly retribution. The Roman general Scipio Africanus the Younger …

When bacteria kill us, it’s more accident than assassination – Ed Yong

The classic novel by H G Wells, <i>The War of the Worlds</i> (1898) – a tale of England besieged by Martian conquerors – ends not with a rousing and heroic …

Liberal ideals are not yet dead, but more relevant than ever – Edmund Fawcett

Liberals are living in alarming times. A few years before his death in 2012, the British historian Eric Hobsbawm passed summary judgment on the …

How come the improbable is so commonplace? – David Hand

Statisticians tell us that the chances of winning the lottery are incredibly small – for the UK National Lottery, for example, around one in 14 …

The line between creativity and stealing from another culture – Nabeelah Jaffer

I committed my first act of cultural appropriation when I was three years old. I was given a <i>keffiyeh</i>, the checkered scarf that is a symbol of …

Religion

Even in a secular age, wine remains a sacred elixir – Ross Andersen

I should start by saying that I’m not a wine critic. I can be counted on to keep a few bottles on hand, but I don’t have a cellar or a special …

So you’re surrounded by idiots. Guess who the real jerk is – Eric Schwitzgebel

Picture the world through the eyes of the jerk. The line of people in the post office is a mass of unimportant fools; it’s a felt injustice that you …

Can we break free from the fear of missing out? – Jacob Burak

Here’s a test you might enjoy: rate these scenarios on a number scale, ranging from 1 for mild discomfort to 7 for outrageous distress.<p>Scenario 1: …

Why would the USA make English an official language? – Eric C Miller

‘English-only’ advocacy in the United States dates at least as far back as 1919, when President Theodore Roosevelt declared: ‘We have room for but …

Linguistics