Merry Company on a Terrace, by Jan Steen, c. 1670. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fletcher Fund, 1958.


Volume X, Number 4 | fall 2017


Before the nineteenth century, a conductor’s baton was a baseball-bat-size implement that was banged against the floor to keep time. This could be dangerous. In 1687, while conducting a symphony playing Te Deum for Louis XIV, who had just recovered from serious illness, composer Jean-Baptiste Lully accidentally struck his foot with his baton, causing inflammation in his toe. He refused amputation, and an infection spread, killing him two months later.

If you have any soul worth expressing, it will show itself in your singing.

—John Ruskin, 1865


A telescopic image of the formalhault solar system. A bright dot is surrounded by a cloud of smaller red dots. An inset shows a close-up of what looks like a planet, labeled Formalhault b.


Space Oddities


Exoplanet revealed to be nothing but a large cloud of dust.


Supposed irrigation canals on Mars are merely optical illusions.


The World in Time

Peter Fritzsche

Lewis H. Lapham speaks with the author of Hitler’s First Hundred Days: When Germans Embraced the Third Reich. More