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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

Mysteries of vernacular: hearse

Part of the Myriapod Productions series investigating the unexpected origins of everyday words, Mysteries of Vernacular: Hearse traces the odd evolution of the word from the extinct Oscan language of southern Italy to its modern usage, for the vehicle used to carry a coffin.

It’s not presidents but pressure groups who lead US politics

As the United States enters into another presidential season, the media is once again covering the election as a horse race.

Kinky cutie

My father was hopelessly, joyously addicted to gambling and I his moral critic. Why did I end up playing pro blackjack?


We all hate getting yelled at, especially when we mess up. Fortunately, there’s a solution: logical positivism was a philosophical revolution that introduced a new theory of meaning – one that shook philosophy to its core.

In praise of artificial food

Artificial food. That’s what humans eat. I say this to anyone who will listen. ‘Oh yes,’ comes the reply.

A tyrannosaur of one’s own

Dinosaur collecting isn't just for museums any more – film stars and sheikhs do it too. What drives a man to covet big bones?

Chess is not a sport but a game. So what’s the difference?

Are chess and bridge sports? The International Olympic Committee thinks that they are, and regularly considers them for inclusion in the summer games, along with other marginal contenders such waterskiing, tug of war and squash.