Journalism

by Andrew Robinson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above left is the introduction to my Nature review of a biopic, The Man Who Knew Infinity, about the uniquely brilliant Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, published in 2016; above right, the introduction to my British Museum Magazine feature, "The origins of writing", published in 2020.

 

The following general-interest reviews of books, exhibitions and films, plus features including profiles and obituaries, were published in British and American newspapers and magazines.

 

REVIEWS

 

2007: "Einstein on and off the soapbox", New Scientist
--review of Einstein on Politics by David Rowe and Robert Schulmann and Einstein: A Biography by Walter Isaacson

 

2008: "Rocket man"The Financial Times
--review of Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War by Michael J. Neufeld

 

2010: "How to behave beyond the grave", Nature
--review of British Museum exhibition, Journey Through the Afterlife: Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead
 
2011: "High society", History Today

--review of Wellcome Collection exhibition, High Society: Mind-Altering Drugs in History and Culture

 

2011: "The captain and the castaway", The Independent
--review of Crusoe: Daniel Defoe, Robert Knox and the Creation of Myth by Katherine Frank

 

2014: "The brewer's tale", Current World Archaeology
--review of The Brewer's Tale: A History of the World According to Beer by William Bostwick

 

2015: "Ringing changes on vital information", Physics World
--review of Information Age: Six Networks That Changed the World edited by Tilly Blyth

 

2015: "The ascent of English", Nature
--review of Scientific Babel: The Language of Science from the Fall of Latin to the Rise of English by Michael Gordin
--listen to a Nature podcast about the review

 

2015: "Reality change and check", The Lancet

--review of film, Steve Jobs


2016: "Artist and empire", History Today
--review of Tate Britain exhibition, Artist and Empire: Facing Britain's Imperial Past

 

2016: "In search of Ramanujan", Nature
--review of film, The Man Who Knew Infinity 

 

2016: "Asylums and after", Science

--review of Wellcome Collection exhibition, Bedlam: The Asylum and Beyond

 

2016: "Four shakes a second", The Daily Telegraph

--review of Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life by Matin Durrani and Liz Kalaugher

   

2017: "All around Turing", New Scientist

--review of The Turing Guide by Jack Copeland, Jonathan Bowen, Mark Sprevak and Robin Wilson

 

2017: "The cradle of humanity", Current World Archaeology

--review of The Cradle of Humanity: How the Changing Landscape of Africa Made Us So Smart by Mark Maslin

 

2017: "Hipposandals, plague pits and chamberpots", The Lancet

--review of Museum of London exhibition, Tunnel: The Archaeology of Crossrail

 

2017: "Prophet of the space age", The Daily Telegraph

--review of Arthur C. Clarke: Odyssey of a Visionary by Neil McAleer

 

2018: "Einstein goes east", Science

--review of The Travel Diaries of Albert Einstein: The Far East, Palestine, and Spain, 1922-1923 edited by Ze'ev Rosenkranz

 

2018: "Revisiting the culture wars", Nature

--review of A Future in Ruins: Unesco, World Heritage, and the Dream of Peace by Lynn Meskell

 

2018: "A physicist's final reflections", Science

--review of Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking

 

2019: "How Victorian England inspired Vincent van Gogh and his art", The Lancet

--review of Tate Britain exhibition, Van Gogh and Britain and film on Van Gogh, At Eternity's Gate

 

2020: "Apocalyptic archaeology", Nature

--review of Digging Up Armageddon: The Search for the Lost City of Solomon by Eric Cline

 

2020: "Indian sun", Sight and Sound

--review of Indian Sun: The Life and Music of Ravi Shankar by Oliver Craske

 

2020: "How did ancient cities weather crises?", Nature

--review of The Life and Death of Ancient Cities: A Natural History by Greg Woolf

 

2020: "The ascent of Wikipedia", Science

--review of Wikipedia @ 20 edited by Joseph Reagle and Jackie Koerner

 

2022: "The first ghosts", Minerva

--review of The First Ghosts: Most Ancient of Legacies by Irving Finkel

 

2022: "Deciphering Egypt's Great Pyramid", Science

--review of The Red Sea Scrolls by Pierre Tallet and Mark Lehner

 

2022: "Human versus machine, in space", Physics World

--review of The End of Astronauts: Why Robots Are the Future of Exploration by Donald Goldsmith and Martin Rees

 

FEATURES

 

1998: "'I've been in revolt all my life'", The Times

--profile of Henri Cartier-Bresson on his 90th birthday

 

1998: "Cutting edge of cinema", The Guardian
--obituary of Akira Kurosawa
 
2000: "Mayan treasures deep in the jungle", The Times
--feature on visiting Mayan art in Mexico

2002: "'I had no idea that madness in the Islamic world had gone so far'", The Times

--profile of V. S. Naipaul on his 70th birthday

2004: "Henri Cartier-Bresson", The Guardian
--obituary of Henri Cartier-Bresson

2005: "Ray of light still shines in the dark", The Times
--feature on the 50th anniversary of Satyajit Ray's first film, Pather Panchali

 

2008: "A century of puzzling", Nature

--feature on the centenary of the discovery of the still-undeciphered Phaistos Disc

 

2010: "Perspiration, inspiration, and the 10-year rule", The Lancet

--feature on the nature of genius

 

2012: "Ravi Shankar", The Independent

--obituary of Ravi Shankar

 

2014: "How do we know how to measure longitude?", (BBC) Focus
--feature on the history of measuring longitude in the 300th anniversary of the Longitude Prize

 

2014: "The nature of light", (BBC) Focus

​--feature on the long history of trying to understand light

 

2015: "Restored Apu Trilogy returns Satyajit Ray's humane work to theaters", The New York Times,
--feature on the US re-release of a restored version of Satyajit Ray's The Apu Trilogy

 

2015: "Lost and found", History Today

--feature introducing the ancient Indus civilisation (cover story)

 

2016: "London shaken and stirred", BBC History Magazine
--feature on the London earthquakes of 1750

 

2016: "Behind the book: Earth-Shattering Events", London Library Magazine

--feature on some influential London Library books about earthquakes, great and small

2016: "Forgotten Utopia", New Scientist 
--feature on the ancient Indus civilisation's puzzling absence of warfare (cover story)

 

2017: "He wrote the future", Nature
--profile of Arthur C. Clarke on his birth centenary

 

2018: "Thus spake Albert", Aeon
--feature on why we love to quote, and misquote, Albert Einstein

2018: "Tom Lehrer at 90", Nature
--profile of Tom Lehrer on his 90th birthday

 

2019: "The experiment that made Einstein famous", The Wall Street Journal
--feature on the centenary of the 1919 solar eclipse and its confirmation of general relativity

 

2019: "How Britain saved Einstein", BBC History Magazine

--feature on Albert Einstein's escape to Britain from Nazi death threats in 1933

 

2020: "The origins of writing", British Museum Magazine

--feature on whether writing had a single geographical origin or many origins around the world

 

2021: "Shining a light on Satyajit Ray, Financial Times

--feature on the birth centenary of Satyajit Ray

 

                                                                 ***** 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following, more specialised, reviews and features focus on Science and the History of Science, Archaeology and Scripts, and Indian History and Culture.

 

SCIENCE AND THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE

 

2005: "A polymath's dilemma", Nature

--feature on Thomas Young, and polymathy in science

 

2014: "How do we know the structure of the periodic table?", (BBC) Focus
--feature on the history of the periodic table of the chemical elements

2014: "Good scientists and honest people", Physics World
--review of Nuclear Dawn: F. E. Simon and the Race for Atomic Weapons in World War II by Kenneth D. McRae​
 

2016: "The Marconi connection", New Scientist
--review of Marconi: The Man Who Networked the World by Marc Raboy

 

2016: "Use a toad to catch a quake", New Scientist

--feature on Zhang Heng, inventor of the world's first seismoscope

 ​

2017: "Scientist, theologian, and heretic", The Lancet

--review of Priest of Nature: The Religious Worlds of Isaac Newton by Rob Iliffe

 

2019: "The eclipse that made Einstein famous", Science

--review of Einstein's War: How Relativity Triumphed amid the Vicious Nationalism of World War I by Matthew Stanley and No Shadow of a Doubt: The 1919 Eclipse that Confirmed Einstein's Theory of Relativity by Daniel Kennefick

 

2020: "The code-breakers who led the rise of computing", Nature

--review of Behind the Enigma: The Authorised History of GCHQ, Britain's Secret Cyber-Intelligence Agency by John Ferris

 

2021: "Books in Brief" (1), and "Books in Brief" (2), Nature
--short reviews of ten books from many scientific disciplines

 

2021: "Brilliant polymath, troubled person", Physics World

--review of The Man from the Future: The Visionary Life of John von Neumann by Ananyo Bhattacharya

 

2022: "Shocking discoveries and mysteries", The Lancet

--review of Spark: The Life of Electricity and the Electricity of Life by Timothy Jorgensen


2022: "The Unique Universe of Satyajit Ray", Physics World
--feature on Satyajit Ray and science

ARCHAEOLOGY AND SCRIPTS

 

2002: "Cracking the Linear B code", BBC History Magazine

--feature on the 50th anniversary of Michael Ventris's decipherment of Linear B

 

2006: "Visible marks of the move from sound to stone", The Times Higher Education Supplement 
--review of The First Writing: Script Invention as History and Process edited by Stephen Houston and Ideogram by J. Marshall Unger


2009: "Decoding antiquity: eight scripts that still can’t be read", New Scientist
--feature based on Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World’s Undeciphered Scripts (cover story)

 
2010: "Corpus of Indus seals and inscriptions", Antiquity
--review of vol. 3 of the Indus seals Corpus edited by Asko Parpola, B. M. Pande and Petteri Koskikallio
 
2014: "Eight mummies, eight stories", The Lancet
--review of British Museum Egyptian exhibition, Ancient Lives, New Discoveries
 
2014: "The ark before Noah", Current World Archaeology
--review of The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood by Irving Finkel​
 
2017: "Gibberish or code?", The Daily Telegraph
--review of The Voynich Manuscriptwith a foreword by Stephen Skinner and introduction by Rafal T. Prinke and Rene Zandbergen
 
--review of Giza and the Pyramids by Mark Lehner and Zahi Hawass
 
2018: "Hero of the hieroglyphs", Minerva
--feature on Jean-François Champollion
 
2019: "Excavating Uruk", Science
--review of Uruk: First City of the Ancient World  edited by Timothy Potts
 
2022: "Technology with characters", Physics World
--review of Kingdom of Characters: A Tale of Languages, Obsession, and Genius in Modern China by Jing Tsu

--review of Bodleian Library exhibition and catalogue, Tutankhamun: Excavating the Archive

2022: "The man who deciphered Linear B", British Museum Magazine
--feature on Michael Ventris

INDIAN HISTORY AND CULTURE
 
1984: "The Jewel in the Crown", Sight and Sound
--feature on the making of the Granada Television series about the British Raj, The Jewel in the Crown 

2011: "Behind India's technological boom", Nature
--review of Dead Ringers: How Outsourcing is Changing the Way Indians Understand Themselves
by Shehzad Nadeem
 
2013: "Enlightening Ray", The Lancet
--review of a complete retrospective of films by Satyajit Ray at the British Film Institute

2013: "A too-soft critique of India's growth", Science
--review of An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions by Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen
 
2013: "The scientific Buddha: his short and happy life", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
--review of The Scientific Buddha: His Short and Happy Life by Donald S. Lopez Jr

2014: "Charm and muddle", The Times Literary Supplement
--review of A Strange Kind of Paradise:India Through Foreign Eyes by Sam Miller

2016: "A people's history", BBC  History Magazine
--review of Incarnations: India in 50 Lives by Sunil Khilnani​
 

2017: "Little more than tea and cricket", History Today

--review of Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India by Shashi Tharoor

 

2019: "Unicorns from Utopia", British Museum Magazine

--feature on the Indus civilisation

 

2020: "Buddhism illuminated", The Lancet

--review of British Library exhibition, Buddhism

 

2020: "Satyajit Ray's bona fide Bengali", Sight and Sound

--obituary of Soumitra Chatterjee

 

​2021: "A century of Ray", Frontline

--feature on the birth centenary of Satyajit Ray


2022: "Journey of a civilization", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
--review of Journey of a Civilization: Indus to Vaigai by R. Balakrishnan