Search the word "retirement" on the internet and your screen is filled with images of silver-haired folk dancing in their kitchens, surfing, getting into ridiculous yoga postures and cuddling grandchildren. The reality for many can be quite different.
When nerve surgeon Dr Susan Mackinnon needed help to finish an operation, she reached, as she often does, for a mid-20th Century book of anatomy.
For the first 15 years of his life, Ben Shenton lived in a doomsday cult that thought the world would soon end. Instead the police arrived one day and plunged him into a new and unfamiliar world… the real one.
How often have we all heard that resigned expression? How often have we said it ourselves? ‘The death of cinema’ is debated in university film studies programs worldwide. Critics lament the loss of 'small movies' in favour of superhero spectacles.
America’s films are among its greatest exports. Since Thomas Edison’s innovations in the medium in the 1890s, the United States has consistently been a powerhouse in the development of cinema – from the massively popular entertainments of Hollywood to independent and avant-garde film.
On stage he’s a loveable, floppy-haired prince charming. Off camera – well let’s just say he needs a lot of personal space. He hates being a celebrity. He resents being an actor. To his ex-girlfriend Elizabeth Hurley's friends he was apparently known as ‘Grumpelstiltskin’.
Muffin top, spare tyre, blubber, belly fat, beer belly - a multitude of names but they all mean the same thing. Abdominal fat. And in the summer many turn to quick fixes to get rid of it, writes Saleyha Ahsan. The problem with belly - or abdominal - fat isn't just the way it looks on the beach.
If you don’t think the act of stacking and shuffling a set of cups could boggle your mind, watch the video below. In it, neuroscientist David Eagleman introduces 10-year-old Austin Naber – a world record-holding, champion cup stacker.
Brian Little, one of the world’s leading experts on personality psychology, is renowned as a public speaker. If you watch his recent TED talk on personality, as millions of others have, you will see an engaging and witty orator holding his audience’s attention with aplomb.
Many people want to eat more healthily but find it difficult to change their diet. So what happened when Michael Mosley altered not what he ate, but when he ate? We've known for some time that altering the time at which you eat can affect your weight and metabolism. At least if you are a mouse.
In 1979, a secret memo from the tobacco industry was revealed to the public. Called the Smoking and Health Proposal, and written a decade earlier by the Brown & Williamson tobacco company, it revealed many of the tactics employed by big tobacco to counter “anti-cigarette forces”.
When Jean-Philippe Michel, an Ottawa-based career coach, works with secondary school students, he doesn’t use the word profession. Neither does he focus on helping his young clients figure out what they want to be when they grow up—at least not directly.
Have you ever felt a little mbuki-mvuki – the irresistible urge to “shuck off your clothes as you dance”? Perhaps a little kilig – the jittery fluttering feeling as you talk to someone you fancy? How about uitwaaien – which encapsulates the revitalising effects of taking a walk in the wind
The workplace is where people go to work. But much of the day is increasingly padded out with less productive activities, writes Peter Fleming. The case was unnerving for one reason mainly. People die all the time, but usually we notice.
From where I'm standing, the city-sized Baogang Steel and Rare Earth complex dominates the horizon, its endless cooling towers and chimneys reaching up into grey, washed-out sky.
Sit down, relax and think of nothing. Struggling? There might be a good reason why your mind seems to wander even when you try very hard to switch off: your brain never really rests. And contrary to popular belief, those idle daydreams might even be beneficial.
In November 2017, two eye surgeons from a hospital in Beirut reported an intriguing case of visual loss in a colleague. A specialist in the retina, the colleague had suddenly developed a patch of blurry vision in one eye just a day or two after an intensely stressful day in the operating room.
A number of recent books have lauded the connection between walking - just for its own sake - and thinking. But are people losing their love of the purposeless walk? Walking is a luxury in the West. Very few people, particularly in cities, are obliged to do much of it at all.
Creative thinking is essential for everything from solving problems to personal fulfilment. So, how can we do more to nurture it? Every day we are expected to make hundreds of decisions and judgements.
“I’ll never forget the sound. The sound of metal crunching,” says George Larson, a passenger on Indian Airlines Flight 440 from Chennai (Madras) to New Delhi in 1973. It was 22:30 – pitch black outside. A storm was raging, and the plane was flying low.
Throughout history, humans have existed side-by-side with bacteria and viruses. From the bubonic plague to smallpox, we have evolved to resist them, and in response they have developed new ways of infecting us.
These days it is hard to walk the streets without running into someone who is anxiously looking at their wrist to see if they are on target to reach the magic 10,000 steps. Is it really a goal worth striving for, or might there be something better?
If you are contemplating a new year's health kick, you could be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed. Do yoga, run, lift weights, cut the carbs, or the fat (depending on the particular diet that's in vogue), ditch the booze, reduce your stress.
Technology means maps and directions are constantly at hand, and getting lost is more unlikely than ever before. While for many this is a thing of joy, Stephen Smith asks if we may be missing out. When was the last time you were well and truly lost? Chances are it's been a while.
Even non-German speakers may be familiar with the joys of its compound words. They express something that English just can’t quite grasp, like schadenfreude (feeling pleasure at someone else’s pain), wanderlust (the desire to travel) or doppelgänger (look-alike).
“I rarely find someone, really anyone, who doesn’t know some part of this story – the idea of the lost man who can’t get home after the war… the woman at home with the suitors. Everyone can tell me some version of it, which is to say, it lives in them.
I'm guessing you are scoffing in disbelief at the very suggestion of this article, but bear with me.
Prof Stephen Hawking, one of Britain's pre-eminent scientists, has said that efforts to create thinking machines pose a threat to our very existence. His warning came in response to a question about a revamp of the technology he uses to communicate, which involves a basic form of AI.
This story is featured in BBC Future’s “Best of 2018” collection. Discover more of our picks. How do you envisage the pursuit of happiness?
Can a lobster feel pain in the same way as you or I? We know that they have the same sensors – called nociceptors – that cause us to flinch or cry when we are hurt. And they certainly behave like they are sensing something unpleasant.
To procrastinate or not: the answer may be down to differences in how our brains are wired, a study suggests. It identified two areas of the brain that determine whether we are more likely to get on with a task or continually put it off.
Pauline Dakin's childhood in Canada in the 1970s was full of secrets, disruption and unpleasant surprises. She wasn't allowed to talk about her family life with anyone - and it wasn't until she was 23 that she was told why. There was always something unusual about Pauline Dakin's family.
People might think battling obesity is down to sheer willpower, but medical research says otherwise. Here are five potentially surprising factors that can affect your weight, as unearthed by . Gillian and Jackie are twins - but one weighs over six stone (41kg) more than the other.
Do you have a habit of picking up books that you never quite get around to reading? If this sounds like you, you might be unwittingly engaging in tsundoku - used to describe a person who owns a lot of unread literature.
Giving jobless people in Finland a basic income for two years did not lead them to find work, researchers said. From January 2017 until December 2018, 2,000 unemployed Finns got a monthly flat payment of €560 (£490; $634).
This story is featured in BBC Future’s “Best of 2018” collection. Discover more of our picks. In the early 20th Century, Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson spent a collective five years eating just meat. This meant that his diet consisted of around 80% fat and 20% protein.
The Philippines is in the midst of a brutal war on drugs sanctioned by the controversial President Rodrigo Duterte, which has seen almost 2,000 killings in a matter of weeks.
There has been a remarkable global decline in the number of children women are having, say researchers. Their report found fertility rate falls meant nearly half of countries were now facing a "baby bust" - meaning there are insufficient children to maintain their population size.
Scientists have been trying to figure out how we are going to feed billions more people in the decades to come. Their answer - "the planetary health diet" - does not completely banish meat and dairy.
Three years ago, BBC Culture ran its first major critics’ poll, to find the 100 greatest American films. Two further polls looked for the best films of the 21st Century and the greatest comedies ever made – and those also ended up with films from the US in the top spot.
In December 1937, Walt Disney Productions released its first feature-length cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The video game of Steven Spielberg's ET is considered to be one of the worst of all time and has even been blamed for triggering the collapse of Atari.
Q: I recently attended a work event at which a very senior national political leader spoke. To my surprise, several people blatantly checked their phones throughout the talk, and one person at my table got up in the middle, announcing that he had a meeting.
The average Briton gets six-and-a-half hours' sleep a night, according to the Sleep Council. Michael Mosley took part in an unusual experiment to see if this is enough. It has been known for some time that the amount of sleep people get has, on average, declined over the years.
Adolescence now lasts from the ages of 10 to 24, although it used to be thought to end at 19, scientists say. Young people continuing their education for longer, as well as delayed marriage and parenthood, has pushed back popular perceptions of when adulthood begins.
Cape Town is in the unenviable situation of being the first major city in the modern era to face the threat of running out of drinking water.
The most feared bomber plane of the 20th Century is still going strong after 60 years in service in the US military - from Vietnam to Afghanistan. And she will keep on flying until 2044. How does this 1950s behemoth survive in the era of drones and stealth aircraft?
As Horace Capron first travelled through Hokkaido in 1871, he searched for a sign of human life among the vast prairies, wooded glades and threatening black mountains. “The stillness of death reigned over this magnificent scene,” he later wrote.
China says it is "seriously concerned" after US President-elect Donald Trump expressed doubts about continuing to abide by the "One China" policy. Under the policy, the US has formal ties with China rather than the island of Taiwan, which China sees as a breakaway province.
“If you don't have a lot of money, you tend to plan your trips better,” she says. “You will make that appointment to see the Eiffel Tower [instead of showing up and queueing]. You will search the internet for the best value in lodging. You will read up on your destination.
Money changes our relationship with morality. The very existence of money, along with complex business and distribution channels, acts as a buffer between ourselves and the origin of our products. This can make us behave in ways that are deeply unethical. I can prove it to you.
"I cannot define the real problem, therefore I suspect there's no real problem, but I'm not sure there's no real problem.
In Blantyre, Malawi, a group of farmers are assembled around a pile of material that could help shape Africa’s future. It doesn’t look like much: a two by two metre pile of alternating layers of moist organic matter like corn stalks and chicken manure.
The sleek, speedy cheetah is rapidly heading towards extinction according to a new study into declining numbers. The report estimates that there are just 7,100 of the world's fastest mammals now left in the wild.
This story is part of BBC Future’s “Best of 2015” list, our greatest hits of the year. Browse the full list. Thomas Ormerod’s team of security officers faced a seemingly impossible task. At airports across Europe, they were asked to interview passengers on their history and travel plans.
In 2005, student Alex Tew had a million-dollar brainwave. The 20-year-old was playing around with ideas to pay for a looming three-year business degree; Tew was already worrying that the overdraft he had would mushroom. So he scribbled on a pad: “How to become a millionaire.”
Here is an easy-to-understand guide to Brexit - beginning with the basics, then a look at the current negotiations, followed by a selection of answers to questions we've been sent.
The search for the “elixir of youth” has spanned centuries and continents – but recently, the hunt has centred on the Okinawa Islands, which stretch across the East China Sea.
At university, when I told people I was studying for a history degree, the response was almost always the same: “You want to be a teacher?”. No, a journalist. “Oh. But you’re not majoring in communications?”
Using money to free-up time is linked to increased happiness, a study says. In an experiment, individuals reported greater happiness if they used £30 ($40) to save time - such as by paying for chores to be done - rather than spending the money on material goods.
Talk of ‘us’ and ‘them’ has long dominated Iran-related politics in the West. At the same time, Christianity has frequently been used to define the identity and values of the US and Europe, as well as to contrast those values with those of a Middle Eastern ‘other’.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world, according to the 2019 Forbes billionaires' list released this week. With an estimated fortune of $131bn (£99bn) he is the wealthiest man in modern history. But he is by no means the richest man of all time.
For Linus Pauling, it all started to go wrong when he changed his breakfast routine. In 1964, at the age of 65, he started adding vitamin C to his orange juice in the morning.