Category: Features

The World’s Most Orderly Nation?

On the high-speed train gliding smoothly from Berlin to Düsseldorf, a young man started chatting to me. He eventually asked, “What are some of the cultural differences you’ve noticed between Germans and Americans?” As if on cue, a middle-aged woman hovered over us and gave a harsh, “Shh!” with her...

The Surfaces That Kill Viruses

Ten million deaths per year. It’s an unfathomable figure, but one that Gerald Larrouy-Maumus mentions often. It is the potential toll facing the world as disease-causing microbes develop resistance to our best defence against them – antibiotics. Currently, 700,000 people die each year of drug-resistant diseases. Over the past decade...

The hunt for the Fish Pirates

In the haze of an overcast April afternoon, the rust-stained hull of the Andrey Dolgov slapped its way through the ocean swell, oily water gushing from the ship’s waterlogged bilge as it made a desperate attempt to flee. Pursued by a sleek, heavily armed naval patrol boat, the ungainly fishing...

As many countries ease lockdown restrictions, residents are returning to old spaces that now feel unfamiliar. The places themselves did not change – but from wearing masks to avoiding crowds, the way we are allowed to navigate them is going to be radically different. Many of these changes may remain...

Go Easy on Yourself

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha “People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it.” – Edith Schaeffer One common way to get...

When the body attacks itself

As Covid-19 cases fill the world’s hospitals, among the sickest and most likely to die are those whose bodies react in a signature, catastrophic way. Immune cells flood into the lungs and attack them, when they should be protecting them. Blood vessels leak, and the blood itself clots. Blood pressure...

The History Of Pandemics

The novel coronavirus pandemic, known as Covid-19, could not have been more predictable. From my own reporting, I knew this first-hand. In October 2019, I attended a simulation involving a fictional pandemic, caused by a novel coronavirus, that killed 65 million people, and in the spring of 2017 I wrote...

A mysterious superconductor’s wave could reveal the physics behind the materials

Physicists have finally captured a superconductor’s wave. The first direct evidence of a phase of matter known as a pair-density wave helps reveal the physics that underlies mysterious high-temperature superconductors, which conduct electricity without resistance at surprisingly high temperatures. The wave was detected using a scanning tunneling electron microscope, researchers report...

The food that could last 2,000 years

On 8 September 1941, Nazi forces surrounded Leningrad from the west and south, and through Finland to the north. A thin strip of land across Lake Ladoga kept the residents in touch with the rest of Russia, but heavy shelling made it impossible to evacuate the population. This was the...

Keeping The Space Station Clean

By 1998, after 12 years in orbit, Russian space station Mir was showing its age. Power cuts were frequent, the computers unreliable and the climate control system was leaking. But when the crew began a study to assess the types of microbes they were sharing their living space with, even...

The Upcoming Superpowers

Brexit, coronavirus, and trade tiffs may be making economic headwinds, but despite immediate challenges, the world economy is projected to keep growing at a rapid pace over the next few decades. In fact, by 2050, the global market is projected to double its current size, even as the UN forecasts...

Japan’s Obsession with Paper

Nestled amid the soaring skyscrapers of Tokyo’s central business district, Kiyoshi Takagi, practises an art form that is more than 1,300 years old. He is making washi paper, a craft now protected by Unesco as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Washi refers to paper made using traditional Japanese methods...

Miniature Nuclear Reactors

Huge computer screens line a dark, windowless control room in Corvallis, Oregon, where engineers at the company Nuscale Power hope to define the next wave of nuclear energy. Glowing icons fill the screens, representing the power output of 12 miniature nuclear reactors. Together, these small modular reactors would generate about...

Things You Need to Stop Doing

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.”’ – Helen Keller “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”...

Stop Being a People Pleaser

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt “When you say “yes” to others, make sure you aren’t saying “no” to yourself.” – Paulo Coehlo When you get stuck in the habit of being a people pleaser...

Fighting Coronavirus

The human race is locked in a battle against something five million times smaller than us. The novel coronavirus that has emerged from the Wuhan in China has gone from an unknown enemy to feared worldwide, in a matter of months. As it continues to spread around the world, bringing...