AROUND 6200 years ago, farmers living on the eastern fringes of Europe, in what is now Ukraine, did something inexplicable. They left their neolithic villages and moved into a sparsely inhabited area of forest and steppe. There, in an area roughly the size of Belgium between the modern cities of Kiev and Odessa, they congregated at new settlements up to 20 times the size of their old ones…
This article first appeared in New Scientist on 27 February 2021. To continue reading, click here (paywall).
BY the end of March, one week into the UK’s first lockdown, recorded crime in Lancashire had dropped by a startling 40% compared with the four-year average. “At first there was some mild panic,” says DCI Eric Halford, of Lancashire Constabulary. “Most senior officers expected a surge in demand…”
This article first appeared in The Guardian on 27 December 2020. To continue reading, click here.
THE animals have been found missing ears and genitals, with eyes torn out, or deep, clean cuts to their bodies. The recent spate of horse mutilations reported across France has provoked horror and outrage. Satanic cults have been mooted, or individual perpetrators engaged in copycat crimes. But what if the panic reveals more about our collective state of mind in 2020 than any new and twisted form of human behaviour…?
This article first appeared in The Guardian on 23 September 2020. To continue reading, click here.
A CENTURY and a half ago an alien insect alighted in Europe. It displaced millions, ruined local economies and forced scientists, politicians and ordinary folk into a frenzy of defensive activity. Phylloxera, a member of the group known to entomologists as Hemiptera, or “true” bugs (as opposed to all the other critters known colloquially as bugs), appeared in France in the 1860s and proceeded to eat its way through many of the Old World’s vines…
This article first appeared in The Economist online on 4 July 2020, and in the print edition of 11 July 2020. To continue reading, click here (paywall).