In the Photic Zone: Flower Animals

Liam Shaw, 17 November 2022

Corals build on their predecessors, leaving their own legacy behind them for the next generation. Reefs are, in part, the frozen exuberant bouquets of the past.

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Space Snooker

Chris Lintott, 20 October 2022

While snooker, played with solid balls that bounce off each other in a fair approximation of what physicists call elastic collisions, may (at least in theory) be a simple game, the effects of slamming...

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What’s the difference? Sex in the Brain

Arianne Shahvisi, 8 September 2022

Being sceptical of sex differences doesn’t detract from the fact that brains are diverse along many other axes, and can relate to their bodies in ways that chafe against the world’s expectations. Maybe...

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Bad Dust: On Asbestos

Tom White, 21 July 2022

Asbestos fibres break down into smaller and smaller strands, a process that continues long after they become invisible to the human eye. When inhaled, these filaments don’t get caught at the back of...

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Diary: Shanghai Shelf Life

Mimi Jiang, 21 July 2022

New group chats have sprung up to share the latest intel on which spots are secretly open. The best coded advertisement was for a badminton gym: ‘Due to Covid restrictions, our gym is not open to the...

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When I teach first-year medical students about community medicine I emphasise that no one’s suffering is experienced in isolation; it invariably has a social context. We fall ill in ways we have been...

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Insects dart suddenly towards you. They lurk in crevices; they take to the air. They can seem indestructible. It probably isn’t true that cockroaches could survive a nuclear explosion, but they can withstand...

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Blink, Bid, Buy

Donald MacKenzie, 12 May 2022

Click​ on a link to an article on a news website. If you have a fast internet connection, you’ll see the article almost immediately, but the slots for adverts will usually remain empty for another...

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On Antibiotic Resistance

Gavin Francis, 7 April 2022

As antibiotic resistance rises, we are already starting to look back on the 20th century as a golden age of medicine, when infections could be treated effectively and there were plenty of antibiotics to...

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Bad Judgment: How many people died?

Paul Taylor, 10 February 2022

Estimated weekly excess deaths in England and Wales in 2021. One of the tactics​ used over the past few weeks by Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions, and by loyal MPs and...

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Short Cuts: Born in Light

Chris Lintott, 27 January 2022

Telescopes are time machines, bringing ancient light from the universe’s past to be observed in the present, and the James Webb Space Telescope is our most powerful yet.

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Whack-a-Mole: Anti-Vax Sentiments

Rivka Galchen, 27 January 2022

When the cause of milkmaids’ mysterious invincibility to smallpox was unknown, they were sometimes accused of being witches. What other explanation could there be for their persistent good health?

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On Omicron

Rupert Beale, 16 December 2021

Since Delta, every variant from Epsilon to Kappa has been downgraded, with Lambda and Mu still designated as merely 'Variants of Interest'. If the mighty Delta could be crushed by the first-generation...

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As the Lock Rattles

John Lanchester, 16 December 2021

Much of the poorer part of the world is still susceptible to the disease, and as long as it is, many more people will die, and the risk of new and more dangerous variants will remain. In May 2020, the...

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Diary: Epistemic Injustice

Bernadette Wren, 2 December 2021

If a whistle-blowing report on the Gender Identity Development Service at the Tavistock Clinic was needed, I wish I’d written it myself. It would have highlighted the isolation of a group of conscientious...

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Ten Million a Year: Dying to Breathe

David Wallace-Wells, 2 December 2021

Wherever you look, the earth is in flames. The residue is carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, black carbon, sulphur dioxide, and the particularly toxic grouping of small particulate matter known...

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Lab Leaks

Alex de Waal, 2 December 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic may well have been a ‘normal accident’; it’s equally possible that ‘Disease X’, the WHO’s codename for the next pandemic, will be another. If so, it will be the by-product...

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Short Cuts: Mayonnaise Miracle Babies

Ashley Moffett, 18 November 2021

As​ a young postgraduate in 1942, Peter Medawar was asked to look into the reason skin grafts given to injured airmen were quickly rejected by the body. His work introduced the concept of a...

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