Gastrophysics is changing the way we understand food

A staple ingredient of many science fiction movies is the ‘food pill’; a small tablet containing all of humanity’s daily nutritional needs. Whilst not light years from reality, this glimpse of the future fails to acknowledge the important social benefits humans derive from food and communal dining. But food alone is thought to be only…

Obituary for the Devil

The General Synod of the Church of England has removed references to the devil in baptism ceremonies. Has it then also killed God? And wouldn’t that be the greatest trick the devil ever pulled?

Crime prediction and detection: exploiting mobile phones and twitter

How far should one’s front door be from the road to minimise the risks of burglary? Aviva, an insurance company, say this “goldilocks distance” (not too much, not too little) is six metres. Any less may invite opportunistic vandalism; any more and determined ne’er do wells could get up to mischief unseen. It is one…

Augmented reality: In the eye of the beholder

AS READERS of The Economist will no doubt recall, Tupac Shakur, a rapper, was murdered in 1996. It therefore came as a surprise, to say the least, when he appeared on stage in 2012. Clever visual manipulation it certainly was, but claims that Mr Shakur’s performance was a hologram were overblown. Holography maintains its sense…

Hacking aircraft: Remote control

IN ONE of his many former lives, Gulliver qualified as a pilot. He therefore exudes an aura of unquestionable confidence when striding into an aircraft cabin, secure in the belief that, if the worst happens and both pilots have the fish, he could take charge of the cockpit and calmly land the plane, Sullenberger-style. Cue…