Writing about heatwaves by Angela Carter, Tom Vanderbilt, E.S. Turner, James Meek, Rosemary Hill and Thomas Jones.
Science & Technology
Much of the poorer part of the world is still susceptible to the disease, and as long as it is, many more people will die, and the risk of new and more dangerous variants will remain. In May 2020, the estimated cost of vaccinating the entire planet was $25 billion. That’s a lot of money. On the other hand, $20.2 billion is what the US military spent on air-conditioning each year in Afghanistan and Iraq. It might turn out to have been a very stupid $25 billion for the rich world to have saved. Covid is still here, 44 per cent of the world’s population is unvaccinated, and the lock is still rattling.
We have seen plenty of viral variants, some with Spike genes of sufficient interest to merit a Greek letter. Spike is the virus’s entry weapon, and the bit of the virus that’s targeted . . .
Normal accident theory, developed by the sociologist Charles Perrow in the 1980s, predicts that sooner or later there will be a devastating accident with a nuclear weapon. The list of near misses . . .
Amia Srinivasan, 7 September 2017
Their intelligence is like ours, and utterly unlike ours. Octopuses are the closest we can come, on earth, to knowing what it might be like to encounter intelligent aliens.
John Lanchester, 17 August 2017
I am scared of Facebook. The company’s ambition, its ruthlessness, and its lack of a moral compass scare me.
Fredric Jameson, 10 September 2015
Science fiction is not the only mass-cultural genre (or subgenre) whose relationship to ‘high literature’ and to modernism in particular presents problems.
Andrew O’Hagan, 6 March 2014
It was exciting to think that no novel had ever captured this new kind of history, where military lies on a global scale were revealed by a bunch of sleepy amateurs two foot from an Aga.
Rebecca Solnit, 5 August 2010
The blowout was not only the biggest oil spill in American history by far: it’s a story that touches on everything else – taints everything, like the black glop on sandy beaches, on pelicans, terns, boats, sea turtles, marshlands and dolphins. It’s about climate change, peak oil, the energy future, the American presidency, about corporate power and the corrosive effect of Big Oil on global politics.
Peter Campbell, 7 March 2002
The descent to the tunnels through which the deep lines run is a tax on the spirit that is paid willingly because it makes it easier to live in an old, tight-packed city. But when the system fails it is strongly resented.
Anne Enright, 13 April 2000
I don’t know where I heard of her first: a woman whose cells are bred in culture dishes in labs all over the world; a woman whose cells were so prolific that there is more of her now, in...
Amartya Sen, 5 November 1992
It is now a century and a third, almost exactly, since the publication in 1859 of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. In this period the view of evolutionary progress introduced by Darwin...
Podcasts & Videos
Joanna Biggs, Tom Crewe, Patricia Lockwood and John Lanchester, 30 November 2021
In our first episode, Patricia Lockwood and John Lanchester join Joanna and Tom to assess the state of the internet, covering podcasts, porn, Twitter, Facebook and their first memories of being online.
Andrew O’Hagan, 8 April 2021
Andrew O'Hagan analyses Craig Wright’s failed attempts to prove he was Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin.
More Science & Technology in the LRB
Ashley Moffett, 18 November 2021
As a young postgraduate in 1942, Peter Medawar was asked to look into the reason skin grafts given to injured airmen were quickly rejected by the body. His work introduced the concept of a...
Edan Ring, 4 November 2021
With the Covid infection rate soaring in spring last year, Naftali Bennett – Israel’s then defence minister, now its prime minister – came up with an original approach to the...
James Meek, 7 October 2021
Britain is in a particularly dire place, afflicted by four decades of free market fanaticism that left it up to commercial companies to pay for the storage of natural gas reserves against a supply crunch...
Amia Srinivasan, 7 October 2021
Animal-human transgression is the fantastical norm in the dreamworld of myth, and operates still as a powerful symbol of the desire to reach beyond the confines of the possible or the acceptable. And yet,...
John Whitfield, 7 October 2021
If a brutally competitive environment helped the best work rise to the top, there might be an argument that the misery was justified. You might, for example, think that a system which can deliver several...
Patricia Fara, 23 September 2021
Every time you ride a bicycle or freeze a bag of peas or carry out a search on Google, some energy becomes unavailable, and the total amount of entropy in the universe gets ever so slightly larger.
Fraser MacDonald, 23 September 2021
There’s a more general disquiet among the unlanded residents of the areas that are increasingly deemed ‘wild’. For them, beavers or wild cats aren’t the problem. They question why...
Malcolm Gaskill, 9 September 2021
Nextdoor works like a neighbourhood watch scheme, but laced with all the toxic gossip once exchanged at the village pump, or by the fireside as women span and their menfolk brooded, puffing on clay pipes....
Daniel Soar, 9 September 2021
Perhaps kokumi will put an end to the misery of people who buy low-fat, low-salt food while secretly wishing they were eating the full-fat version that actually has some flavour. It can make something...
James Meek, 15 July 2021
It shouldn’t be more important that the North Sea wind farms get built than that some of their towers are made by low-paid labourers working twelve-hour shifts, seven days a week; and yet the immense...
Mike Jay, 1 July 2021
The illusion of science, for a writer in the embryonic American marketplace, sold better than the real thing. But Poe had grand scientific ambitions, with which he persisted in the teeth of indifference...
Rupert Beale, 1 July 2021
We will soon reach a point where the threat of Covid in the UK is substantially diminished by widespread immunity. The 19 July opening is unlikely to cause another devastating wave of hospitalisations...
Chris Lintott, 3 June 2021
Perhaps, as Cixin Liu’s science fiction trilogy The Three-Body Problem suggests, revealing your presence to a hostile cosmos results in your inevitable destruction, so sending messages into space...
Francis Gooding, 20 May 2021
Fungi are diffuse, plastic beings: they reform themselves around the problem at hand. ‘Mycelium’, says Merlin Sheldrake, is a body without limits: ‘a body without a plan’. With...
James Romm, 22 April 2021
Doctors today speak not only of a Hippocratic oath but a Hippocratic face (distorted by the approach of death), a Hippocratic bench (used for setting broken bones) and a Hippocratic manoeuvre (for popping...
Rivka Galchen, 22 April 2021
Descartes thought the brain functioned as a system of hydraulics, much like the statues he saw in the gardens of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Later thinkers also saw in the brain what they saw around them: electricity,...
Donald MacKenzie, 1 April 2021
There is something unsettling – especially in the midst of a pandemic that has forced so much of commerce and everyday life to move online – about being brought face to face with the extent...
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