Essays

invention ANCIENT UR

Technology transfer across the ages

There are countless instances throughout history of what could be called intellectual property theft — from the appropriation of the technology of Chinese silk manufacture in Byzantium to beer-brewing or porcelain recipes in Europe. How did these technology transfers come about?

german cars

The Germans and their cars: history of a love affair

German car making is nearly as old as the nation itself and embedded in its heart, soul and mind. Replacing combustion engines with batteries is not a like-for-like swap. We are about to give up one of man’s most emotive mechanical creations; more is at stake than facts and figures.

donetsk ukraine russia donbas

Putin bets the Russia house on the Donbas rustbelt

By 1991, the Donbas, the former core of the Russian Empire’s coal, iron and metallurgical industries, was in large part Europe’s biggest rust-belt. For Russia, the benefits of annexing the region are far from clear.

terror attack

Keeping it simple: how technology shapes the terror threat

Evolving technology consistently introduces new possibilities for both the attacker and defender. The more inventive terrorists became, the more defensive measures needed to be put in place. As new countermeasures were introduced, terrorists became increasingly inventive to evade them.

DNA

The century of the gene

When the Human Genome Initiative published its first findings in 2002, the world was shocked. Genetic biologists, however, had long ago come to realise that DNA sequences are only part of the story of how organisms develop.

Bikini Atoll nuclear

The nuclear dilemma: deterrence works, up to a point

Nuclear arsenals constrain us, within limits. They enable dictators, within limits. Those limits matter, whether they are the limits of what we would do to dictators if we could, or what dictators could do to us if they could.

America’s problem with unconventional warfare

For more than thirty years, the US has sought to avoid deploying ground forces into protracted conflict. It has nevertheless done so in almost every single one of those years. Perhaps it is time to accept reality.

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