Tom Lathan

Helen Macdonald could charm the birds out of the trees

When Helen Macdonald was a child, she had a way of calming herself during moments of stress: closing her eyes, she would imagine and count through the layers of the earth that lay beneath her, and then the layers of atmosphere above her. ‘It had something of the power of incantation,’ she writes in Vesper

Why fungi might solve the world’s problems

The biologist Merlin Sheldrake is an intriguing character. In a video promoting the publication of his book Entangled Life, which explores the mysterious world of fungi, he cooks and eats mushrooms that have sprouted from the pages of a copy of the book. In another video, the double bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado ‘duets’ with a recording

Poisoned paradise

For Joanna Pocock, a midlife crisis is the moment in which ‘bored of the rhythm of our days, whatever those may be… we begin to realise that we have more past than future’. With the approach of her 50th birthday and the onset of the menopause, she is struck powerfully by this notion. Her response

Swarms of pestilence

Carried on monsoon winds across the Red Sea, vast swarms of desert locusts have posed a deadly threat to the people of the Horn of Africa for millennia. One swarm can number billions of insects, cover a 1,000-square-mile area and consume 30–40,000 tonnes of food per day — all of which makes the desert locust