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Landing on alien worlds is our highest form of exploration

The expression ‘We’ve landed!’ connects to something deep and instinctive in the human psyche. Those words mean that we have crossed an inhospitable expanse and staked our place on the other side.


For many, Mardi Gras is synonymous with beads, brass bands and elaborate parades down New Orleans’s famed Bourbon Street.

Police interrogation techniques are bogus and inaccurate

If you were among the millions of people who watched the Netflix series Making a Murderer (2015), you were probably disturbed by the scenes of police interrogating Brendan Dassey, a 16-year-old mentally challenged boy.

High five!

Why, in the entire history of human life, did awesomeness become the great virtue of our age (and suckiness its vice)?

Monica Grady on the search for alien life

For much of the 20th century, mainstream scientists have considered the search for alien life to be the realm of dreamers, conspiracy theorists and quacks.

Human evolution is more a muddy delta than a branching tree

Until recently, anthropologists drew the human family tree in the same way that my 10-year-old son solves a maze.


It’s not just your imagination. Horror films are much more scary than they were in the past. Here’s how they do it By Patricia Pisters Read at Aeon


The sport of competitive pigeon flying (or ‘doo fleein’, in the parlance of its practitioners) is a centuries-old Scottish tradition, and the pursuit of no more than about 1,000 Scots.

How looting in Iraq unearthed the treasures of Gilgamesh

You would think that amid all the human carnage in the Middle East, the destruction of archaeological sites hardly counts for much.

A fake of art

Museums display perfect reproductions of fragile works and visitors can’t tell the difference. Is nothing in art sacred?

Thermonuclear art

While solar winds – charged particles emitted from the Sun’s atmosphere – can reach the furthest edges of the solar system, their effects become visible to the human eye only when their bursts cause solar flares.

The self-reliant individual is a myth that needs updating

Great loners are fascinating. Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond, Buddhist monks in their hermitage, and fictional heroes such as Robinson Crusoe are all romantic figures of successful solitary survival.

Lessons of Demopolis

Wisdom from classical Greece: democracy and liberalism are both better off if we understand the difference between them By Josiah Ober Read at Aeon

Bucket lists are a good way to ruin the experience of nature

A new government programme in South Korea encourages hikers to slow down and enjoy nature. The reason behind the initiative is that South Koreans are, it seems, taking many of the stresses of their daily life along on the trails, bringing the competitive streak from the city to the supposed tranq...

Voices from Manus Island

Following a 2013 immigration policy overhaul, the Australian government began detaining asylum-seekers at offshore immigration facilities.

The mental suffering of ICU patients could easily be lessened

While hospitalised in the intensive care unit for six weeks in 2010 with an acute form of pneumonia, Melissa Akers’s mind distorted reality: nefarious workers seemed to confine her healthy body to bed with a network of tubes, and a thunderous locomotive outside her door appeared to bring new pris...

Dispatches from the ruins

The human world has become bafflingly complex and strangely fragile, making apocalypse the easiest thing of all to imagine By Frank Bures Read at Aeon

The wild courtship moves of the Carola’s parotia

Far from amateurs on the dancefloor, males of the bird-of-paradise species known as Carola’s parotia practise their moves for hours a day before finally performing for a tough crowd of desirable females in a one-of-a-kind competition.

What every dictator knows: young men are natural fanatics

Young men are particularly liable to become fanatics. Every dictator, every guru, every religious leader, knows this.

The superfluid Universe

Quantum effects are not just subatomic: they can be expressed across galaxies, and solve the puzzle of dark matter By Sabine Hossenfelder Read at Aeon