How we went from mere betting to gaming the world

Risk reduction is every serious gambler’s avocation. The gambler is not there to take part. The gambler isn’t there to win. The gambler is there to find an edge: to game the table.

for The Spectator

Is boredom good for us?


photo of Marina Abramovic by Bennett Raglin/WireImage/Getty

By removing the tedium of waiting, we have turned ourselves into sensation junkies

for New Scientist

Eugenic America: how to exclude almost everyone


University at Albany Libraries’ M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives

Eugenics fails because it looks for genetic solutions to what are essentially cultural problems. The anarchist biologist Peter Kropotkin made this point as far back as 1912. Who were unfit, he asked the first international eugenics congress in London: workers or monied idlers? Those who produced degenerates in slums or those who produced degenerates in palaces?

for New Scientist

How two dead power stations fuel the art of catastrophe


Karen Kramer: The eye that articulates belongs on land

The Fukushima power plant offered us “a false promise of dominion” apparently – a formulation I’m sure to recall next time I turn on a kettle for a cuppa – before Nature Wrought Her Terrible Judgement.

for New Scientist

How the forces inside cells actually behave

animal electricity

Thomas Deerinck, NCMIR/SPL

If you stood at arm’s length from someone and each of you had 1 per cent more electrons than protons, the force pushing the two of you apart would be enough to lift a “weight” equal to that of the entire Earth.

for New Scientist

Staring into the heart of an artificial tree


The sculpture is both a salute to the gallery’s reopening after a two-year renovation, and an evocation of how, even when we try to tread lightly over Earth, we can’t resist a spot of weird tinkering.

for New Scientist

Putting the wheel in its place

Mary Evans / Grenville Collins

What made the rickshaw so different from a wagon or an ox-cart and, in the eyes of many Westerners, so cruel, was the idea of it being pulled by a man instead of a farm animal. Pushing wheelchairs and baby carriages posed no problem, but pulling turned a man into a beast.

for New Scientist




The meaning of aliens


“If such advanced beings meant us harm, they would have harmed us by now. She’s much more worried that we would harm peaceable aliens by making mistakes”

Interviewing filmmaker Michael Madsen about his new documentary The Visit.

Gardening in space: Sow the cosmological seeds and scatter


The novelist Norman Mailer considered the US space program “the deepest of nihilistic acts – because we don’t know why we did it”. The Russians always knew. They wanted to plant gardens.

for New Scientist

Recalling the Paris climate talks


Climate change is no longer a purely scientific problem: it is a political and social truth we must handle as best we can. And we aren’t handling it. We can’t handle it. We haven’t got a clue.

For New Scientist, 11 December 2015