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Mismatch of mindsets

SOME years ago, in Afghanistan, the anthropologist Scott Atran asked a Taliban fighter what it would take to stop the fighting, because families on both sides were crying. The fighter replied: “Leave our country and the crying will stop…”

isafmedia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 24 September 2021. To continue reading, click here.


The latest investigation into Covid’s origins is also inconclusive

US intelligence services have just briefed the president, Joe Biden, on the results of their 90-day investigation into the origins of Covid-19. They were asked to test two hypotheses: that it had a “natural” origin, or that it escaped from a lab. Preliminary reports suggest that their findings are inconclusive…

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 27 August 2021. To continue reading, click here.



The world’s top thinkers 2021

We stopped, they rethought. Meet the outstanding minds who are shaping the future.



…In science, we have Tim Spector, who was remaking the science of nutrition before redirecting his efforts into a Covid tracker. And also Laura Spinney, who pursued her own interest in the 1918 Spanish Flu when no one else cared, but then became one of the most prescient and prominent public voices when a new pandemic hit…


“12 Bytes” by Jeanette Winterson – review

IN Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein, a scientist creates life and is horrified by what he has done. Two centuries on, synthetic life, albeit in a far simpler form, has been created in a dish. What Shelley imagined has only now become possible. But as Jeanette Winterson points out in this essay collection, the achievements of science and technology always start out as fiction. Not everything that can be imagined can be realised, but nothing can be realised if it hasn’t been imagined first…

Robots repaired while U wait

This article first appeared in The Guardian  on 23 July 2021. To continue reading, click here.