Books

Rod Taylor works his invention in a film version of HG. Wells’s The Time Machine

Cheating death by time travel

11 February 2017 9:00 am

The concept of time travel is surprisingly recent, says Jenny Colgan. Before H.G. Wells, it barely existed

Siri Hustvedt’s thoughts on art, science and the human condition

21 January 2017 9:00 am

This past autumn has felt more uncomfortable than usual to be a woman looking at men looking at women. From…

The secret of the universe in 250 pages

19 November 2016 9:00 am

A few years ago, in Berne, I visited the apartment where Einstein wrote his theory of special relativity, which changed…

Gender Medicine

Why women should be treated differently to men

15 October 2016 9:00 am

When I started this book, I have to admit, I did not think it would be as absolutely fascinating as…

The best way to start on Enlightenment philosophy

10 September 2016 9:00 am

The flour is what matters, and not the mill, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg wrote in his notebook in 1799. ‘When we…

Conceptual image of Lactobacillus acidolphus that occurs naturally in the gastrointestinal tract and mouth

Want to feel better? Be kind to your bugs

27 August 2016 9:00 am

There are more bacteria in your gut than there are stars in our galaxy. Ed Yong’s book explaining their possibilities is as wondrous as a sacred text, says Kate Womersley

A butterfly-powered parachute gently ridicules the French obsession with flight in the late 18th century, illustrated in Gaston Tissandier’s Histoire des ballons et des aéronautes célèbres: 1783–1800

Steve Jones’s chaotic theory of history

7 May 2016 9:00 am

‘They fuck you up, your mum and dad.’ Philip Larkin’s most famous line has appeared in the Spectator repeatedly, and…

Thin air and frayed tempers

13 February 2016 9:00 am

Born in New South Wales in 1888, George Finch climbed Mount Canobolas as a boy, unleashing, in the thin air,…

Humboldt talks to one of the indigenous people in Turbaco (today’s Columbia) en route to Bogotá.

Alexander Humboldt: a great explorer rediscovered

6 February 2016 9:00 am

The Prussian naturalist Alexander von Humboldt was once the most famous man in Europe bar Napoleon. And if you judge…

John Paul Stapp: the fastest man on earth, who saved millions

14 November 2015 9:00 am

There’s a moment in Craig Ryan’s spectacular biography of John Paul Stapp — the maverick American Air Force doctor who,…

Following Galileo’s discoveries, a rugged, cratered moon is depicted (with papal approval) by Ludovico Cigoli in his ‘Assumption of the Virgin in the Pauline Chapel’

Moving heaven and earth: Galileo’s subversive spyglass

11 April 2015 9:00 am

We live in an age of astronomical marvels. Last year Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft made a daring rendezvous with the comet…

On the trail of a Victorian femme fatale

15 March 2014 9:00 am

Kate Colquhoun sets herself a number of significant challenges in her compelling new book, Did She Kill Him? Like Kate…

E.O. Wilson has a new explanation for consciousness, art & religion. Is it credible?

7 September 2013 9:00 am

His publishers describe this ‘ground-breaking book on evolution’ by ‘the most celebrated living heir to Darwin’ as ‘the summa work…

The Rocks Don’t Lie, by David R. Montgomery - review

31 August 2013 9:00 am

James McConnachie finds that theology and geology have been unlikely bedfellows for centuries

The Man Who Plants Trees, by Jim Robbins - review

8 June 2013 9:00 am

Remember the ‘Plant a Tree in ’73’ campaign? Forty years on, has anyone inquired into what happened to all those…

The Serpent’s Promise, by Steve Jones - review

11 May 2013 9:00 am

The weight of bacteria that each of us carries around is equal to that of our brain, a kilogram of…

What dogs know about us

2 March 2013 9:00 am

In Aesop’s fable of the Dog and the Wolf, the latter declares that it is better to starve free than…

A gruesome sort

31 March 2012 10:00 am

Everybody knows that the heart pumps blood around the body, and that a man called William Harvey somehow discovered this…

His dark materials

3 March 2012 10:00 am

Like the dyslexic Faustus who sold his soul to Santa, the life of John Dee was a black comedy of…

Robot on the loose

18 February 2012 10:00 am

In December 2005, a passenger on an early-morning flight from Dallas to Las Vegas fell asleep. Woken by a steward…

More big questions

14 January 2012 1:00 pm

There is something rather odd about the current state of science. The funding for its prestigious institutions and mega projects…

Quirky Books: Treasure-troves of trivia

3 December 2011 10:00 am

Connoisseurs of the Christmas gift book market — we are a select group, with little otherwise to occupy our time…

The Brain is Wider Than the Sky by Bryan Appleyard

12 November 2011 9:00 am

With all the advances of science, we may be no nearer to understanding ourselves than before, says Anthony Daniels — but we shouldn’t dismiss the possibility outright

Speak, Memory

4 June 2011 12:00 am

One day, the American journalist Joshua Foer is surfing the net, trying to find the answer to a specific question: who is the most intelligent person in the world? He can’t find a definitive answer.

The mind’s I

28 May 2011 12:00 am

The quasi-religious zeal with which certain popularising neuroscientists claim that man is no different, essentially, from the animals, and that consciousness is but an epiphenomenon, strikes me as distinctly odd.