John Stapp enduring the effects of acceleration and deceleration (Photo: Getty)

John Paul Stapp: the fastest man on earth, who saved millions

14 November 2015 9:00 am

There’s a moment in Craig Ryan’s spectacular biography of John Paul Stapp — the maverick American Air Force doctor who,…

Following Galileo’s discoveries, a rugged, cratered moon is depicted (with papal approval) by Ludovico Cigoli in his ‘Assumption of the Virgin in the Pauline Chapel’

Moving heaven and earth: Galileo’s subversive spyglass

11 April 2015 9:00 am

We live in an age of astronomical marvels. Last year Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft made a daring rendezvous with the comet…

Florence Maybrick and husband James Maybrick, once thought to have been Jack the Ripper Photo: Getty

On the trail of a Victorian femme fatale

15 March 2014 9:00 am

Kate Colquhoun sets herself a number of significant challenges in her compelling new book, Did She Kill Him? Like Kate…

human beehive edit

E.O. Wilson has a new explanation for consciousness, art & religion. Is it credible?

7 September 2013 9:00 am

His publishers describe this ‘ground-breaking book on evolution’ by ‘the most celebrated living heir to Darwin’ as ‘the summa work…

Is there geological evidence for Noah’s Flood — and if so, was it a local or  world-wide catastrophe?

The Rocks Don’t Lie, by David R. Montgomery - review

31 August 2013 9:00 am

James McConnachie finds that theology and geology have been unlikely bedfellows for centuries

Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace in Hyde Park incorporated within its structure several magnificent elms — a tree that has now all but vanished from Britain

The Man Who Plants Trees, by Jim Robbins - review

8 June 2013 9:00 am

Remember the ‘Plant a Tree in ’73’ campaign? Forty years on, has anyone inquired into what happened to all those…

The Cleansing of Naaman by Elisha. Woodcut from the Biblia Sacra Germanaica

The Serpent’s Promise, by Steve Jones - review

11 May 2013 9:00 am

The weight of bacteria that each of us carries around is equal to that of our brain, a kilogram of…

Two Hunting Dogs by Jacopo Bassano (1510-92)

What dogs know about us

2 March 2013 9:00 am

In Aesop’s fable of the Dog and the Wolf, the latter declares that it is better to starve free than…


A gruesome sort

31 March 2012 10:00 am

Everybody knows that the heart pumps blood around the body, and that a man called William Harvey somehow discovered this…


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.