Category Archives: Journalism

The centenary of the 20th century’s worst catastrophe

On June 29th 1918 Martín Salazar, Spain’s inspector general of health, stood up in front of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Madrid and declared, not without embarrassment, that the disease which was ravaging the country was to be found nowhere else in Europe…

This article first appeared in The Economist on 27 September 2018. To continue reading, click here.

 

The drift of humankind: obituary of Luca Cavalli-Sforza

FOR a man who spent his career illuminating the vast, dim migrations of people in prehistory, Luca Cavalli-Sforza’s life was remarkably circular. He first became interested in his major field, genetics, in the house of the geneticist Adriano Buzzati at Belluno, in the hills north of Venice. There he helped to collect thousands of flies in search of mutant Y chromosomes; and though he subsequently travelled the world to study the makeup of its tribes and populations, it was in Belluno that he died…

This article first appeared in The Economist on 13 September 2018. To continue reading, click here.

Adventurer in time

IN JULY 1962, Michel Siffre took off his watch and descended into the abyss of Scarasson in the French Alps. There, in a cave 130 metres below the surface, he set up camp next to a glacier. With a torch as his only light source, and deprived of all reminders of the passage of time, he lived underground, alone, for 63 days…

Michel Siffre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article first appeared in New Scientist on 8 August 2018. To continue reading, click here.

Can robots make art?

VISITING the exhibition Artists and Robots at the Grand Palais in Paris, I happened on the artist ORLAN, best known for her work involving body modification. She was standing close to her 2017 work ORLAN and the ORLANOID, in which her video presence interrogates a lookalike robot on matters of life and death. Having borrowed the robot’s lensless glasses for a photo shoot, she needed her own back. I was struck by the robot’s lack of reaction as she made the swap. It underscored my answer to the question posed by this exhibition: can a robot create a work of visual art?

Claudio Moderini

This article first appeared online in Nature  on 27 April 2018. To continue reading, click here.

Culture clash

I’M BRITISH. Soon after moving to Switzerland, where I lived for six years, I threw a house-warming party and was taken aback when all 30 guests arrived exactly on time. Years later, having moved to France, I turned up at the appointed hour for a dinner, only to find that no other guest had arrived and my hostess was still in her bathrobe…

 

Police, Singapore

 

This article first appeared in New Scientist on 10 April 2018. To continue reading, click here.