The Week

Leading article

Universities challenged

On the face of it, this year’s Nobel Prize awards have been a triumph for British scientists. No fewer than five laureates come from these shores: three physicists, one chemist and an economist. But before anyone starts praising our higher education system, there is one small snag: all five are currently working at US universities.

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week | 13 October 2016

Home The pound fell against the dollar and the euro, weakening by 19 per cent against the dollar from its level at the time of the EU referendum to lows last seen in 1985. The FTSE 100 index almost beat its highest-ever closing level. There was much unrooted talk about what votes Parliament should have


Diary – 13 October 2016

To Edinburgh to get married, but first my toyboy groom John Playfair (he’s a mere 69) shows me the city of his birth, which is peppered with his kinsman William Playfair’s neoclassical buildings. Outside the Chambers Museum there is a new, magnificent statue of him by Stoddard. We climb Calton Hill to admire the monument

Ancient and modern

Diogenes vs Theresa May

‘If you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere,’ proclaimed Theresa May in a speech to the Conservative party conference. Oh dear! And her a vicar’s daughter too! ‘Cosmopolitan’ derives from the ancient Greek kosmos ‘world’ plus politês, ‘enfranchised member of a polis, citizen’. It was a word used by


Barometer | 13 October 2016

Fears of a clown Professional clowns complained that the current craze for scaring people by dressing in clown outfits was damaging their trade. But why do some people find clowns frightening? — The effect was analysed in 1970 by Japanese professor Masahiro Mori as he researched robot faces. He found that the more lifelike faces

From the archives

Sea strategy

From ‘Decisive victory at sea’, The Spectator, 7 October 1916: The only excuse for changing our views of the magnificent rightness of the strategy of continually searching out the enemy, forcing him to action, and destroying him — the strategy on which Britain has been built up — would be that submarines and mines have so


Letters | 13 October 2016

Cathedral going Sir: While I enjoyed much of Simon Jenkins’s analysis of why England’s cathedrals are thriving (‘Why cathedrals are soaring’, 8 October) his article misses the point. As a self-confessed non-worshipper, his understanding of these buildings and their significance lacks a crucial dimension. The raison d’être of our churches and cathedrals is faith and