The twin boom

lzuB88p2IN Greek mythology, twins Castor and Pollux are so tightly bound that when mortal Castor dies, divine Pollux surrenders half his immortality to stay with him, and the pair are transformed into the constellation Gemini. In a modern reversal of the myth, twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly were reunited in March after Scott returned from a year’s stint on the International Space Station – an event eagerly awaited by medical researchers who saw their chance to conduct tests on the twins to assess the effects of space on the human body…

This article first appeared in Aeon on 18 August 2016. To continue reading, click here.

Twins Scott and Mark Kelly, former astronauts
Twins Scott and Mark Kelly, former astronauts

 

In death, there is life

the-economist-logoMAX PLANCK, the inventor of quantum theory, once said that science advances one funeral at a time. He meant—or, at least, is presumed to have meant—that the death of a dominant mind in a field liberates others with different points of view to make their cases more freely, without treading on the toes of established authority. It might also rearrange patterns of funding, for they, too, often reflect established hierarchies…

This article first appeared in The Economist on 26 March 2016. To continue reading, click here.

Max Planck, 1933
Max Planck, 1933

China and the Great War

IMPERIAL War Museum, London, 4 May 2016. China’s participation in the First World War was a defining moment in modern Chinese and world history and the beginning of China’s journey toward internationalisation. The aim of this symposium was to extend the dimensions of our collective memory of the war – and the ensuing ‘flu pandemic – along with investigations of the significance of these to China’s subsequent role in international relations. Held on May Fourth, the date of the symposium commemorates the May Fourth Revolution which followed China’s betrayal at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919…

I spoke at the symposium on the possible Chinese origins of the flu that wasn’t Spanish.

Chinese Labour Corps graves
Chinese Labour Corps graves

 

writer & journalist