Category Archives: Journalism

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.

Spanish lessons please

WITH hopes high that the northern hemisphere flu season is about to recede, it seems a good time to point out that, unlike annual outbreaks that fade as spring arrives, flu pandemics don’t respect seasons. A hundred years ago, the worst such pandemic on record was just starting – the first case was recorded on 4 March 1918 – and north of the equator it wouldn’t peak until the autumn…

Credit: Andrzej Krause/New Scientist

This article first appeared in New Scientist on 3 March 2018. To continue reading, click here.

Did human sacrifice help people form complex societies?

IN 1598, a European miner working in the Bolivian highlands stumbled across a 10-year-old Andean girl who was still alive, despite having been walled up inside a funerary tower three days earlier. Several decades had passed since the Inca Empire—the most sophisticated in the world at that time—had fallen, but its practices lived on among the Incas’ descendants in the region, including human sacrifice. The practice held on a little longer after this incident. Around 20 years later, a boy, who had escaped from local chiefs attempting to bury him alive, took refuge in a Spanish community in the Peruvian Sierra. But the tradition was incompatible with the moral outlook of the new Catholic regime, and die it did, eventually…

Ritual human sacrifice portrayed in Codex Magliabechiano

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