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Light moves at Washington National Cathedral

Shot inside the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC as it was undergoing repairs for earthquake damage, this mesmerising video captures the movement of light through the stained-glass windows of this neo-Gothic structure.

Drunk on genocide: how the Nazis celebrated murdering Jews

It was noon in early 1942 as Johann Grüner approached the ‘German House’ in the Polish town of Nowy Targ for lunch.

Chau, beyond the lines

Agent Orange was widely used as part of the United States’ herbicidal warfare programme in the Vietnam War, deployed as a means of exposing the positions of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers through defoliation and destroying their crops.

The five-paragraph fetish

Writing essays by a formula was meant to be a step on the way. Now it’s the stifling goal for student and scholar alike By David Labaree Read at Aeon

The tech bias: why Silicon Valley needs social theory

In the summer of 2017, a now infamous memo came to light. Written by James Damore, then an engineer at Google, it claimed that the under-representation of women in tech was partly caused by inherent biological differences between men and women.

Guns and the British empire

Eighteenth-century Indian arms were as sophisticated as European. Then came the British Empire to drive industry backwards By Priya Satia Read at Aeon

The ladybug love-in

The Hippodamia convergens (the convergent ladybug, or ladybird) beetle spends most of its life alone, feasting on aphids and other small, soft-bodied insects.

Confabulation: why telling ourselves stories makes us feel ok

In a now classic experiment, the psychologists Richard E Nisbett and Timothy Wilson at the University of Michigan laid out a range of items, such as pairs of stockings, and asked people to select one.

To automate is human

It’s not tools, culture or communication that make humans unique but our knack for offloading dirty work onto machines By Antone Martinho-Truswell Read at Aeon


As China shifted from a small-farm economy to an industrial powerhouse over the past generation, there’s been an enormous demographic shift, with some 282 million migrant labourers splitting their time between cities and their rural homes.

What a fossil revolution reveals about the history of ‘big data’

In 1981, when I was nine years old, my father took me to see Raiders of the Lost Ark. Although I had to squint my eyes during some of the scary scenes, I loved it – in particular because I was fairly sure that Harrison Ford’s character was based on my dad.

Why we love tyrants

Psychoanalysis explains how authoritarians energise the hatred, self-pity and delusion while promising heaven on Earth By David Livingstone Smith Read at Aeon

See with your ears: Spielberg and sound design

Because film is thought of as a primarily visual medium, it’s easy to overlook the integral role of sound design in on-screen storytelling – particularly when it seems to fade into the background during movies that lack flashy soundtracks and blockbuster action.

Few things are as dangerous as economists with physics envy

Two questions: is it good or bad that professional athletes earn 400 times what nurses do, and is string theory a dead end?

To demonstrate how spiders fly

In this early stop-motion animation from 1909, the pioneering British naturalist and filmmaker F Percy Smith uses a mechanical model to illustrate how some spiders are able to fly by throwing a thread of silk to the wind.

Is the Universe a conscious mind?

Cosmopsychism might seem crazy, but it provides a robust explanatory model for how the Universe became fine-tuned for life By Philip Goff Read at Aeon

Planes don’t flap their wings: does AI work like a brain?

In 1739, Parisians flocked to see an exhibition of automata by the French inventor Jacques de Vaucanson performing feats assumed impossible by machines.

Teachers and students

Medieval people knew that love and pain and dread and desire made the experience of education possible, and could also sow ruin By Irina Dumitrescu Read at Aeon

Experience composite

Our waking experience overflows with small sensations that we almost never verbalise: the feel of pushing a computer key; a brief, satisfying scratch; a word or image rising into consciousness before dissipating.

The African Anthropocene

The Anthropocene feels different depending on where you are – too often, the ‘we’ of the world is white and Western By Gabrielle Hecht Read at Aeon