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 www.jjeverson.com
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.

Measure of a man: will robots ever have the capacity to feel human emotions?
Reprogramming science fiction: the genre that is learning to love
By Andrew Harrison - 20 February 11:28

From Battlestar Galactica to Spike Jonze’s new film Her, modern science fiction is growing up and humanising.

A sculpture by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan in Milan.
Swearing: the fascinating history of our favourite four-letter words
By Kate Wiles - 18 February 12:45

The most commonly-used swear words reveal more about our medieval past than just attitudes towards sex and body parts.

The disused Battersea Power station - an iconic London landmark. Photo: Getty
Exclusive, insensitive and architecturally uninspiring – the new age of urban regeneration
By Philip Kleinfeld - 17 February 10:47

The redevelopment of Battersea Power Station and the Nine Elms area in south London illustrates a much wider problem in the way cities are managed and planned – councils seem perfectly happy to see private interests direct the course of historically interesting places.

Matthew Taylor: ‘‘Film bridges the divide between aesthetic excellence and popularity’’
By New Statesman - 13 February 11:27

The chief executive of the RSA takes the <i>NS</i> Centenary Questionnaire.

In the hot seat: Bazalgette's focus is now on persuading business to invest
Peter Bazalgette: “Subsidy? It’s a wet, tedious , passive word. I don’t use it”
By Michael Prodger - 13 February 7:22

A year ago, Peter Bazalgette, the TV entrepreneur responsible for <em>Big Brother</em>, was put in charge of the £400m-a-year Arts Council England. Is he spending the funds wisely?

New Statesman
Slavoj Žižek: what is an authentic political event?
By Slavoj Zizek - 12 February 15:51

Julian Assange and his collaborators enacted a true and authentic political event. But what do we mean by that, and how does it influence our actions?

Michael Rosen: Everything, all human life, is history
By Michael Rosen - 06 February 8:37

To live with this paradox of history, being on the one hand “gone” yet at the same time being “with us at all times”, is what it is to be human.

How a gift for puncturing fads left one academic lonely but right
By Ed Smith - 06 February 8:29

The academic George Watson was an anti-Marxist but never a conservative.

Before the First World War: what can 1914 tell us about 2014?
By Richard J Evans - 23 January 9:58

Old world decline, rogue empires, killing for God – looking at 1914, we can discover that there are many uncomfortable parallels with our own time.

Illustration by Laura Carlin.
Frozen assets: Being broke and cold is like having an unrelenting headache
By David Sedaris - 15 December 15:48

The winter of 1983 was not unnaturally cold by North Carolina standards.

The north is not all Coronation Street and popping the kettle on
By Philip Hensher - 05 December 8:21

This is a place with a rich cultural life and a jumble of social classes.

Alan Johnson: Sometimes, the things that make us human emerge from the worst things we have to endure
By Alan Johnson - 28 November 10:12

Sometimes the best things that make us human emerge from the worst things that we have to endure.

Once the full stop meant a sentence was over - now it means you're angry
By Ben Crair - 26 November 13:07

The perpetual flow of instant messaging fears a heavy full stop - it means the conversation is over, or that you're being sarcastic, or angry. How did this happen to a once neutral punctuation mark?