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A surprising number of scientists believe in little green men

In 1928, a young physicist and engineer named Karl Jansky began working at Bell Telephone Laboratories, tasked with investigating any sources of static that could interfere with long-distance radio communication. Cobbling together a system of antennae on a merry-go-round, he successfully found that thunderstorms were annoying in just this way. But there was a small

Are all great civilisations doomed?

To quote Private Frazer in Dad’s Army, ‘We’re doomed, doomed!’ That seems to be the message of Paul Cooper’s eminently readable series of essays about how and why 14 civilisations rose to greatness and then collapsed. He begins with the Sumerians in the fourth millennium BC, at the northern tip of the Persian Gulf, and

Living in the golden age of navel-gazing

If you are under 40, you probably already know of Joel Golby. He writes stream-of-consciousness personal essays and the satirical ‘Rental Opportunity of the Week’ column for Vice. For older readers, think, say, William Leith or Caitlin Moran. For even older readers, think maybe Thurber, Perelman or Dorothy Parker. And for the truly ancient, see

Nietzsche’s thinking seems destined to be mangled and misunderstood

For Mussolini’s 60th birthday, Hitler gave him a de luxe edition of Friedrich Nietzsche’s complete works, bound in blue pigskin. After the war, writers vied to revile the philosopher. Then, in the 1960s, he suddenly became philosophy’s darling. How come? Enter two erotically entangled Italians: Georgio Colli, a philosophy teacher at Lucca from 1942, and