Simon Ings

Things mankind was not supposed to know — the dark side of science

14 November 2020 9:00 am

One day someone is going to have to write the definitive study of Wikipedia’s influence on letters. What, after all,…

How time vanishes: the more we study it, the more protean it seems

27 June 2020 9:00 am

Some books elucidate their subject, mapping and sharpening its boundaries. The Clock Mirage, by the mathematician Joseph Mazur, is not…

Taxonomy reaches celebrity heights

16 May 2020 9:00 am

Heteropoda davidbowie is a species of huntsman spider. Though rare, it has been found in parts of Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia…

The trade in cadavers is rife with scandal

11 April 2020 9:00 am

John Troyer, the director of the Centre for Death and Society at the University of Bath, has moves. You can…

Master of disguise: the British genius who concealed whole Allied battle lines

21 March 2020 9:00 am

Early one morning in October 1874 a barge carrying three barrels of benzoline and five tons of gunpowder blew up…

The history, power and beauty of infographics

24 January 2020 10:00 pm

on the history, power and beauty of infographics

Believing in big data is equivalent to believing in the stars

18 January 2020 9:00 am

Look up at the sky on a clear night. This is not an astrological game. (Indeed, the experiment’s more impressive…

Who knew that chemistry could be so entertaining?

14 December 2019 9:00 am

Here’s how the element antimony got its name. Once upon a time (according to the 17th-century apothecary Pierre Pomet), a…

Hatsune Miku went on her first tour in 2016

Can computers compose?

3 August 2019 9:00 am

In 1871, the polymath and computer pioneer Charles Babbage died at his home in Marylebone. The encyclopaedias have it that…

‘Telepainting’, 1964, by Takis

Full of wonders: Takis at Tate Modern reviewed

13 July 2019 9:00 am

Steel flowers bend in a ‘breeze’ generated by magnetic pendulums. This is the first thing you see as you enter…

Plastic fantastic: British Industried Fair, 1948

How plastic saved the elephant and tortoise

1 June 2019 9:00 am

Plastics — even venerable, historically eloquent plastics — hardly draw the eye. As this show’s insightful accompanying publication (a snip…

The only thing that baffled Einstein was his own popularity

11 May 2019 9:00 am

On 6 November 1919, at a joint meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Society, held at London’s…

James Clerk Maxwell: funny, flippant and charming, with an extraordinarily fertile mechanical imagination

The powerful magnetism of James Clerk Maxwell

16 February 2019 9:00 am

Chances are, you are reading these words in some room or other. Build a wall down the middle of it,…

Tibetan thanka representing the dakini Princess Mandaravna

The Tibetan Passion Book puts the Kama Sutra in the shade

9 June 2018 9:00 am

The Tibetan artist and poet Gendun Chopel was born in 1903. He was identified as an incarnate lama, and ordained…

Inhuman face: relying on robots to entertain or care for us could leave humans too vulnerable

What will it mean for mankind when robots start caring for us?

3 February 2018 9:00 am

‘I gotta be me,’ Sammy Davis Jr. croons as the android Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) steadies her horse, stands…

Help over the hump

28 October 2017 9:00 am

Losing our way in life’s trackless forest, whither should we turn for solace and advice? Wisdom used to be the…

Finger counting from 1 to 20,000. From De Numeris by Rabanus Maurus. (Carolingian school, 9th century)

The magic of maths

9 September 2017 9:00 am

It’s odd, when you think about it, that mathematics ever got going. We have no innate genius for numbers. Drop…