I was in the last days of a family vacation in a house on a lake in northern Vermont when I got the news that Seamus Heaney had died.
For the Frenchman Marcel Proust, the elixir of memory might have been a petite madeleine, but that wouldn't work on British-bred me.
A couple of years ago, at a massive conference of neuroscientists — 35,000 attendees, scores of sessions going at any given time — I wandered into a talk that I thought would be about consciousness but proved (wrong room) to be about grasshoppers and locusts.
In the past few years I have spent a lot of time in the West Bank city of Hebron, where communal relations between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims could hardly be any worse; and I have often wondered why we expect the adherents of the Abrahamic faiths to get along, when their revered ancestors,
‘This is where Bing Crosby’s buried,’ says my mom from the front seat of my middle aunt’s car. Mother is feeling triumphant because she’s conned me into a twofer.
I spent the summer staying up all night. When everyone else was asleep, I was out in the gloaming with the livestock and the wildfowl, searching for a rare, endangered bird.
A few years ago, I was invited to attend a traditional Haida memorial ceremony. It was for a prominent community member in Old Masset on Haida Gwaii, off British Columbia.
In 1796, the English physician Edward Jenner injected an eight-year-old boy in Gloucestershire with cowpox.
In the dying years of the 1600s, the English philosopher John Locke did something remarkable: in just a few short pages, he took away our souls.
Between the ages of six and eight or so, when I was old enough to run around outside but too young to have cooler things to do, I spent quite a bit of time with insects.
A few times a month, I walk from my apartment in the rapidly gentrifying Lower Queen Anne part of Seattle towards one of the cafés in the booming South Lake Union neighbourhood.
When I was seven years old, my Baptist grandparents took me to meet an astronaut. It was, as they say, a religious experience.
Everywhere we turn it seems that biomedical science and biotechnology are making Promethean claims to explain, manipulate and transform our lives.
She was nothing like the sweet old lady in Poltergeist, a film that gave me, an overly imaginative child growing up in the 1980s, my most memorable brush with the spirit world.
Some things occur just by chance. Mark Twain was born on the day that Halley’s comet appeared in 1835 and died on the day it reappeared in 1910.
It is every parent’s nightmare. The sea wall at Plymouth Hoe is 65 ft high and a line of boys, aged from 11 to 15, are leaping off the wall into the aptly named Dead Man’s Cove, each of them egged on by their friends.
Most of the people reading this article do not possess the skill to start a fire from scratch. And yet, many anthropologists think that the mastery of fire literally transformed our ancestors into human beings.
In 2010, the editors at Vogue Paris made a design decision that could soon lead to a wide-sweeping change in French law.
One evening in the summer of 2004, I was in a bar on the Bahamian island of Bimini when a smiling young woman came up to me.
I travelled with Bedouin in the Western Desert of Egypt. When we got a puncture, they used tape and an old inner tube to suck air from three tyres to inflate a fourth.