The big idea: could the greatest works of literature be undiscovered?

WHEN the great library at Alexandria went up in flames, it is said that the books took six months to burn. We can’t know if this is true. Exactly how the library met its end, and whether it even existed, have been subjects of speculation for more than 2,000 years. For two millennia, we’ve been haunted by the idea that what has been passed down to us might not be representative of the vast corpus of literature and knowledge that humans have created. It’s a fear that has only been confirmed by new methods for estimating the extent of the losses…

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 28 May 2022. To continue reading, click here.

Bill Gates on the pandemic

IN 2015, the American technologist and philanthropist Bill Gates warned that humanity wasn’t ready for a pandemic. Seven years on, as the world emerges (hopefully) from a pandemic for which it wasn’t ready, he thinks we have it within our power to make sure this one was the last. There will be more disease outbreaks, but we now possess the tools and the knowledge to prevent them from becoming global catastrophes…

This article first appeared in the New Statesman on 4 May 2022. To continue reading, click here:

Bill Gates on the pandemic: a misplaced faith in innovation

Interview: Frans de Waal, primatologist

SEX and gender have come to represent one of the hottest fronts in the modern culture wars. Now, on to this bloody battlefield, calmly dodging banned books, anti-transgender laws and political doublespeak, strolls the distinguished Dutch-American primatologist Frans de Waal, brandishing nearly half a century’s worth of field notebooks and followed, metaphorically speaking, by an astonishingly diverse collection of primates…

Bonobos

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 17 April 2022. To continue reading, click here.

From zero to hero

IT was the alt-history, the policy that didn’t get enacted. No-Covid, zero-Covid or elimination aimed to stamp out community transmission of Covid-19 in a given area, rather than just reduce it to “manageable” levels. Most of the world eschewed it, and it got bad press from the start. Only autocratic regimes could pull it off, one mantra went. Countries like China and ah, New Zealand and, oops, that notorious police state Davis in California…

University of California Davis

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 28 March 2022. To continue reading, click here.

writer & journalist