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.

The nature of evil

21 May 2011 12:00 am

Simon Baron-Cohen has spent 30 years researching the way our brains work.

Massacre of the innocents

12 March 2011 12:00 am

‘La justice flétrit, la prison corrompt et la société a les criminels qu’elle mérite’ — Justice withers, prison corrupts, and society gets the criminals it deserves.

Care or cure?

5 February 2011 12:00 am

Cancer is usually associated with death.

Perchance to dream

5 February 2011 12:00 am

This book reads like an interesting after- dinner conversation between intelligent friends.

Learning to listen

18 September 2010 12:00 am

How Music Works opens with a blizzard of reassurances.

A plague of infinities

11 September 2010 12:00 am

Stephen Hawking is the most distinguished living physicist, who despite the catastrophe of motor neurone disease has been twice married, is a bestselling author and a media super-star.

In and out of every dive

23 June 2010 12:00 am

Robert Coover’s Noir is a graphic novel.

Faith under fire

24 March 2010 12:00 am

Giles St Aubyn, in this long, scholarly book, sets out to chronicle the shifts in the Christian churches from the scientific revolution of the 17th century, and the Enlightenment of the 18th, to the apparent triumph of secularism in the 20th.

A cosmic comedy

10 March 2010 12:00 am

Not long ago I had an email from a friend, wondering if I’d yet read the new Ian McEwan.

Array of luminaries

27 January 2010 12:00 am

In November 1660, on a damp night at Gresham College in London, a young shaver named Christopher Wren gave a lecture on astronomy.

Addle-pated modernist

6 January 2010 12:00 am

In 1564 a book was published calculating that there were 7,409,127 demons at work in the world, under the administrative control of 79 demon-princes.

The teacher you wish you’d had

14 October 2009 12:00 am

Sometimes you can become too well known.

Poisoned spring

6 May 2009 12:00 am

Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo, by Michael McCarthy
Wings and Rings: A History of Bird Migration Studies in Europe, by Richard Vaughan

Darwin — from worms to collops

1 April 2009 12:00 am

By all accounts a modest and retiring example of his species, Charles Darwin would surely have been more astonished than flattered by the honours done him during this year’s bicentennial celebrations.

The romance of the jungle

25 March 2009 12:00 am

The Lost City of Z, by David Grann

Barking up the wrong tree?

18 March 2009 12:00 am

The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning, by James Lovelock He Knew He Was Right: The Irrepressible Life of James Lovelock and Gaia, by John Gribbin and Mary Gribbin

Mind over matter

28 January 2009 12:00 am

Why Us?, by James Le Fanu

The origin of the theory

28 January 2009 12:00 am

Darwin’s Sacred Cause, by Adrian Desmond and James Moore Darwin: A Life in Poems, by Ruth Padel