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The lobster and its amazing noses


Many humans might consider smell to be a less than essential sense. To the lobster, though, interpreting chemicals using its 12 ‘noses’ is the difference between meeting a compatible mate and never reproducing, finding a meal and going hungry, and winning or losing a fight with a rival.

The invention of the paper bag was a triumph of feminism


We carry stuff in them ­– groceries, clothes, gifts, trash and booze. I carried my lunch to school in one until the fourth grade because my mother would decorate them with stickers and drawings.

Elgin Park


After a childhood scarred by bullying and dark family secrets, Michael Paul Smith found himself working in a series of dead-end jobs and battling depression.

Whatever you think, you don’t necessarily know your own mind


Do you think racial stereotypes are false? Are you sure? I’m not asking if you’re sure whether or not the stereotypes are false, but if you’re sure whether or not you think that they are.

Painted stone: asteroids in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey


Located at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) has collected imaging data for more than 3 million astronomical objects since it began operating in 2000.

The Still Alice effect: not all Alzheimer’s is like this


If you watched Still Alice (2014), you were probably moved to tears by Julianne Moore’s Oscar-winning portrayal of Alice Howland, a 50-year-old professor of linguistics who discovers that she has a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease.

American secular


The founding moment of the United States brought a society newly freed from religion. What went wrong?

How ‘Dr Death’ single-handedly fought for the right to die


Social change usually happens slowly. It takes time for technology to advance, for social movements to generate momentum, for new policies to be developed, or for public opinion to shift.

The songs of the wolves


Wolves’ howls are eerie, beautiful and wild. But what are they actually saying to each other? By Holly Root-Gutteridge Read at Aeon

Brené Brown: why we’re so quick to blame


The reasons why people love to blame are simple enough: they’re seeking an outlet for their frustrations, and they want to feel in control.

A beleaguered Britain takes comfort in nostalgia for empire


The British empire never lacked contradictions. A global juggernaut standing with its military boot on millions of necks, practising commercial coercion and diplomatic cynicism, it nonetheless routinely thought of itself as a plucky underdog.

Magic bowls of antiquity


Ancient Babylonia’s magic bowls offer a glimpse into the society of the Talmud, and today’s shadowy antiquities market By Samuel Thrope Read at Aeon

The philosophy of virtual reality


The virtual reality (VR) industry is currently in its infancy, but in just a few decades it’s possible that virtual environments will be nearly indistinguishable from reality.

Why a well-crafted melody has the power to colonise your mind


I am waltzing though the aisles of my local supermarket looking for a rice dish I can wolf down for a quick supper before heading out again across town.

Are dreams predictions?


Dreams might not be omens or prophecies in a mystical sense, but they do have a distinct psychological predictive power By Sue Llewellyn Read at Aeon

Wittgenstein’s beetle in the box analogy


We can never fully access another person’s perspective, but to what extent do our individual private experiences matter when it comes to language and shared understanding?

Why science needs to break the spell of reductive materialism


We all sense something deeply deficient in our modern civilisation. Is it an absence of spirituality?

The brain dictionary


A groundbreaking new study from the Gallant Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley is transforming how scientists understand language organisation in the brain. Published in Nature on 28 April 2016, the paper ‘Natural Speech Reveals the Semantic Maps That Tile Human Cerebral Cortex’ reveals that we use our entire brain – and not just the temporal lobe, as once believed – to group words by meaning.

Decriminalising sex work is better for everyone


Amnesty International and The Economist are very different organisations, but they have reached similar conclusions on policies regarding sex markets.

What do clothes say?


Clothes can be forms of thought as articulate as a poem or equation. Why then does philosophy like to dress them down?


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