An apparition causes havoc by menacing two people in their kitchen. From the London Stereoscopic Company Comic Series, 1865/Getty Images
I was a die-hard sceptic, but then I saw a poltergeist
By Margaret Corvid - 11 July 14:15

I was too stunned to be scared, but I remember the sense of conviction; surely, it was a poltergeist. Why had a supernatural being decided to show itself to me, a Marxist, who does not believe in ghosts?

Greta Gerwig and Mickey Sumner in Frances Ha.
Grown women don’t need to have a “best friend”
By Alice Robb - 11 July 9:40

If “best friendship” is on the rise, what does it mean?

“We carry with us layers of previous generations, in manners, in language, in habits.” Photograph: Alexey Blagutin/Millennium Images
After God: how to fill the faith-shaped hole in modern life
By New Statesman - 08 July 10:31

Religion used to define our seasons and our days. But now that it’s in decline in the west, what rituals can take its place? Rowan Williams, Melvyn Bragg, Lucy Winkett, Robin Ince, Vicky Beeching and Julian Baggini try to answer that question.

Hapsburg heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Countess Sophie.
Who was Franz Ferdinand?
By Simon Winder - 28 June 9:54

The Habsburg heir was a rose-fancying, pious man, fond of hunting and above all his family – yet his assassination a hundred years ago led to the fall of empires.

Resplendent in high boots, leather and latex, the dominatrix continues to influence trendsetters. Photo: Getty
How the Nordic Model will close the door on the professional dominatrix
By Margaret Corvid - 16 June 16:21

Under the Nordic Model – which criminalises the clients of sex workers – the role of the dominatrix, which is as classically British as that of a steam train conductor, will be greatly changed and diminished.

Sense of duty: Martin Bromiley founded the Clinical Human Factors Group to bring change to the NHS. Photo: Muir Vidler
How mistakes can save lives: one man’s mission to revolutionise the NHS
By Ian Leslie - 04 June 10:00

After the death of his wife following a minor operation, airline pilot Martin Bromiley set out to change the way medicine is practised in the UK  – by using his knowledge of plane crashes. 

Glass box: Citigroup offices in Canary Wharf, September 2013. Photo: Getty
Is the office about to become redundant?
By Philip Maughan - 29 May 10:00

In 2014, the distinction between work and life, office and home, is poised to collapse. Members of “Generation Y” desire greater flexibility, with the ability to work where and when they want.

If there is one idea we need to be rid of it’s “natural curiosity”. Photo: Rich Grundy on Flickr via Creative Commons
Why curiosity will rule the modern world
By Ian Leslie - 27 May 18:10

We ought to be doing everything we can to foster curiosity but we undervalue and misunderstand it.

Why empires fall: from ancient Rome to Putin's Russia
By Tom Holland - 23 May 16:00

Moscow, to western eyes, does not look much like Rome. But if there is any country in the world where the tug of the Roman ideal can be felt, it is Russia.

More than old crocodile brains: Brian Blessed on what makes us human
By Brian Blessed - 23 May 12:26

Each of us has over a hundred billion cells in our brain, comparable to the number of stars in a giant galaxy. The cerebral cortex is our liberation.

A spectator looks on at the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Photo: Getty
ICYMI: The internet has ruined our conception of time
By Elizabeth Minkel - 23 May 12:14

There is an online acronym that is destroying my soul.

Actor Robert Helpmann as Shylock in the Old Vic's 1958 production of The Merchant of Venice. Photo: Monty Fresco/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
The whole damn literary canon needs a trigger warning
By Sarah Ditum - 21 May 16:07

Until we appreciate how much of our literature is potentially traumatic, how can we hope to make a culture that is not shaped by white supremacy and male violence?

A drug that slows ageing, even modestly, would change life as we know it for ever. Photo: Getty
Arrested development
By Virginia Hughes - 21 May 9:01

A handful of girls seem to defy one of the biggest certainties in life: ageing. Virginia Hughes reports.

A woman walks through a forest near Essen in western Germany. Photo: Getty
The importance of being lonely
By Ruth Thomas - 02 May 8:54

Is loneliness always a bad thing – or should we cherish our pre-internet memories of vacant and pensive moods?

Queen Caroline. Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
Caroline of Ansbach: the Georgian queen who brought the Enlightenment to Britain
By Caroline Crampton - 01 May 15:07

Three hundred years ago, an unlikely set of circumstances led to a minor German aristocratic family becoming the British royal family. Once the Georges arrived, Britain took the first steps towards becoming the nation it is today.

Motoko Kusanagi from the Ghost in the Shell series. By Jarred Everson
On ghosts, or why I never want to be anybody’s muse
By Cara Ellison - 23 April 17:34

It took 27 years for me to admit that I didn’t want to be around people who create things. I didn’t want to be with them. I was already one of them.

Vince Cable: “What makes me human is a love of dance”
By Vince Cable - 22 April 9:01

For the Business Secretary, his Friday dance lesson is a small refuge from a fraught ministerial routine.

The cultural riches online are seemingly infinite - will they be there forever? Photogragh: Erik Söderström on Flickr via Creative Commons
What’s the rush? Why the internet means we never get round to doing anything
By Oliver Farry - 17 April 12:53

Speed is of the essence in the online world but faced with the Aladdin’s cave of cultural riches, one’s response is invariably one of sluggishness, of planning for a putative future that will never come.

Peaches Geldof's death caused ripples on social media. Photo: Getty
Laurie Penny on mourning in the digital age: Selfies at funerals and memorial hashtags
By Laurie Penny - 14 April 16:20

There is nothing we can do to make normal or “appropriate” the death of a dear friend, or a beloved public figure.

Use your imagination, go on. Photo: Getty
My adult circumcision: how I made the cut for my new religion
By Tony Dokoupil - 11 April 16:24

To remain uncut, I was told, is to remain spiritually cut off from the Jewish people.

Why futurologists are always wrong – and why we should be sceptical of techno-utopians
By Bryan Appleyard - 10 April 10:00

From predicting AI within 20 years to mass-starvation in the 1970s, those who foretell the future often come close to doomsday preachers.

Why, when we say "I'll just stay for one", does that never turn out to be the case? Photo: Getty
Peering through beer goggles: the pub that wants to improve your health
By Caroline Crampton - 28 March 12:56

Psychologists at London South Bank University have cunningly disguised a lab as a pub in order to research our drinking habits.

Fire-starters: Khoisan children in southern Africa around a fire. (Photo: Getty)
Ray Mears: “What I believe defines us as human is our mastery of fire”
By Ray Mears - 20 March 10:00

Our ability to harness flames has shaped who we are.

Binyavanga Wainaina (Photo: Phil Moore/Guardian)
Binyavanga Wainaina on coming out: “This is not going to be very good for my love life”
By Philip Maughan - 20 March 10:00

The fearless Kenyan writer talks about the “lost” coming-out chapter from his memoir and the response in Africa and elsewhere.

“Innovation” is no substitute for a robust technology policy. Photo: Getty
The innovation fetish
By Evgeny Morozov - 19 March 13:42

Left, right, and centre – everyone loves to talk about “innovation”. But what does it mean, this ambiguous, ill-defined buzzword?

“Actually” is the most futile, overused word on the internet
By Claire Carusillo - 18 March 15:13

Whereas “basically” and “well” are relatively harmless tics that crowd our sentences, “actually” has an attitude.

Maureen Lipman: we all need a shoulder to whine on
By Maureen Lipman - 13 March 14:00

The beautiful enigma of empathy and our capacity for creativity are what define us.

Melvyn Bragg says the driving force behind "In Our Time" is that he wants an education. Photograph: Abigail Zoe Martin/BBC
Melvyn Bragg, the nation’s schoolmaster
By Michael Prodger - 13 March 10:34

Melvyn Bragg talks to Michael Prodger about family trauma, educating Britain and why Labour is still “deeply wounded”.

Explorers … or nosy parkers
By Colin Pillinger - 28 February 16:43

The planetary scientist Collin Pillinger has died aged 70 following a brain haemorrhage. In a piece for the NS in February, he argued that it’s our thirst for discovery that makes us human.

The Vikings invented soap operas and pioneered globalisation - so why do we depict them as brutes?
By Ronald Hutton - 25 February 11:00

A new exhibition at the British Museum shows how closely the world of the Vikings mirrors our own.