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30 December

In the headlines



“Let us take back the night”

As we know from Genesis, God is “famously keen on maintaining boundaries between domains”, says Charles Foster in Literary Review. “He separated the light from the darkness,” we are told, “and called the light ‘day’, and the darkness ‘night’.” But that’s something we humans have been undoing: in much of the world, lights are so ubiquitous that night has effectively been cancelled. The night sky in Hong Kong shines 1,200 times more brightly than if it were unilluminated. Millions will “never see the constellations” central to the stories humans tell about the cosmos. The “gentle” hubris of firelight has been supplanted by engineers planning to put artificial moons in space, pumping out light eight times stronger than the real thing.

The great escape

Condé Nast Traveller has tapped its network of globe-trotting adventurers to assemble a list of the 23 best places to visit in 2023. Top destinations include Auckland, New Zealand, which is open to tourists again after the country’s stringent Covid restrictions finally ended in September; Galilee in Israel, for its boutique hotels and vineyards; and Mustang in Nepal, for its luxury mountain retreats and Himalayan wonders like the mysterious ancient “sky caves”. See the full list here.


Here’s some jargon you might encounter in 2023, says The Economist. “Productivity paranoia” describes the tensions around working from home, with bosses afraid that workers are shirking, and workers afraid of being seen as shirkers. “Post-quantum cryptography” describes the beefed-up cyber-security systems needed to withstand hacking from ultra-powerful quantum computers. And the “Battery Belt” is a revived Rust Belt – America’s old industrial heartland refitted to produce electric cars and other green technology.


This has been the year of the “absurd accessory”, says The Cut. Our favourite fashion follies include Julia Fox’s handbag crafted out of a pair of jeans; Balenciaga’s luxury leather binbag; a cheese-themed hat sent down the runway by Puppets and Puppets; and Loewe’s pigeon clutch.


Every year since 1988, Popular Science has picked out 100 innovations that “make living on Earth even a tiny bit better”. This year’s top technological accomplishment was the successful launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, which has produced “jaw-dropping images that are revealing our universe in stunning new ways”. The list also includes an electric plane called Alice; a 3D-printed replacement ear made from real ear cells; a handheld lipstick-maker that can produce thousands of shades on demand; and a biodegradable coffin that turns the dead into compost. See the full list here.


National Geographic’s pictures of the year, chosen from more than two million images across 60 countries, include shots of panda cubs snacking in China, a blazing volcano in the Canary Islands, a red sailing boat coasting between two icebergs in Greenland, and a Nasa rocket awaiting testing in the Florida morning mist.


quoted 30.12.22

“Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve. Middle age is when you’re forced to.”

American humourist Bill Vaughan