David Robson

Feature writer, BBC Future

I specialise in writing in-depth feature articles quietly probing the extremes of the human mind, body and behaviour. My subjects have included real-life vampires, countries that don't exist, and the other human living inside your body. I hope you enjoy my clippings. If you would like to get in touch, please email d_a_robson "at" hotmail.com.

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Four ways that other people warp your memory
When we think of our memories, it's natural to imagine a kind of personal library, a bit like Sherlock Holmes's memory palace, where we have stored the most precious events of...
The birth of half-human, half-animal chimeras
In H. G. Wells's The Island of Doctor Moreau , the shipwrecked hero Edward Pendrick is walking through a forest glade when he chances upon a group of two men and a woman...
Our IQs have never been higher - but it hasn't made us smart
James Flynn is worried about leaving the world to millennials. As a professor at the University of Otago in New Zealand, he regularly meets bright students with enormous...
The reasons why exhaustion and burnout are so common
A few years ago, Anna Katharina Schaffner became the latest victim of the exhaustion 'epidemic'. It began with a kind of mental and physical inertia - as she put it, a "sense of...
We have the wrong idea about males, females and sex
Once upon a time, animal courtship was thought to run something like a Barbara Cartland novel. The rakish males battle it out for a chaste female, who sits around choosing the...
The mysterious appeal of 'silent music'
In March 1941, a New York audience gathered outside a Broadway theatre to experience one of the more unusual concerts the city had ever seen. The 13-piece orchestra was led by...
Why we should celebrate shyness
If you are ever overcome by feelings of self-doubt, just remember Agatha Christie. In April 1958, her play The Mousetrap became the longest-running production in British...
This is how it feels to learn your memories are fiction
A few months after his brain surgery, Matthew returned to work as a computer programmer. He knew it was going to be a challenge - he had to explain to his boss that he was...
The Victorians who flew as high as jumbo jets
The dead pigeons should have been James Glaisher's warning. On 5 September 1862, the scientist was taking one of his first balloon flights - and alongside the compass,...
The tragic fate of the people who stop sleeping
Silvano was on a cruise ship when the family curse struck. An elegant 53-year-old with striking red hair who enjoyed wearing a tuxedo at every possible occasion, he tried to...
Why are people so incredibly gullible?
If you ever need proof of human gullibility, cast your mind back to the attack of the flesh-eating bananas . In January 2000, a series of chain emails began reporting that...
What is a 'normal' sex life?
From how often we do it to what we do, BBC Future's latest SmartList explores the wide spectrum of sexual desires and behaviours.
How important is social class in Britain today?
Like it or loathe it, many see the class system as a quintessential element of British life, together with our obsession for tea and cake and talking about the weather. "Class...
The very real pain of 'imaginary' illnesses
Soon after Suzanne O'Sullivan had left medical school in Dublin, she met a patient named Yvonne, whose mysterious illness appeared to bear little relation to any of her previous...
The dark tales of the world's most epic sleep-talker
"Do you know Edwina didn't even cry when that crocodile popped off her leg? She didn't even cry, Edwina. She was fascinated, just fascinated. Her mother fainted dead away, and...
The secret "anti-languages" you're not supposed to know
Could you erectify a luxurimole flackoblots? Have you hidden your chocolate cake from Penelope? Or maybe you're just going to vada the bona omi? If you understand any of these...
Has the Queen become frightfully common?
If the Queen's governess were still alive today, she may have noticed a few discordant notes in her charge's formerly crystal clear diction. OK, she ain' exactly droppin' her Ts...
The curse of the people who can't stop making puns
Derek's wife had put up with more than most people could stand before she finally decided to call the doctor. Almost every night, her husband would wake her up from sleep to...
The blessing and curse of the people who never forget
For most of us, memory is a kind of scrapbook, a mess of blurred and faded snapshots of our lives. As much as we would like to cling on to our past, even the most poignant...
Did the Maya create the first 'comics'?
Long before Bugs Bunny came along, a cheeky rabbit terrorised Mayan gods. With speech bubbles, stink lines and naughty jokes, they are uncannily similar to graphic novels.
The secrets of living to 200 years old
Just 30 years after the publication of Moby Dick, a group of Alaskan whalers attempted to tame their own ocean giant. Their target was a male bowhead whale, the second largest...
The people who drink human blood
In the French quarter of New Orleans, John Edgar Browning is about to take part in a "feeding". It begins as clinically as a medical procedure. His acquaintance first swabs a...
The air that makes you fat
Take a deep breath, and exhale. Depending on where you live, that life-giving lungful of air might just be pushing you towards diabetes and obesity. Two people can eat the same...
The surprising perks of being easily embarrassed
A few days into my first job, a colleague walked into my team's office to complain about a "situation" with the toilet. I won't go into the messy details; let's just say that...
How to learn 30 languages
Out on a sunny Berlin balcony, Tim Keeley and Daniel Krasa are firing words like bullets at each other. First German, then Hindi, Nepali, Polish, Croatian, Mandarin and Thai -...
What Sherlock Holmes taught us about the mind
Soon after Andrew Lees embarked on his medical career at University College Hospital London, one of his superiors gave him a rather strange reading list. Rather than the usual...
The strange phenomenon of musical 'skin orgasms'
Sometimes music strikes the body like a bolt of lightning. "I was in a friend's dorm room in my third year as an undergraduate," Psyche Loui remembers. "Rachmaninov's Piano...
Quiz: How dark is your personality?
An interactive quiz that measures the "dark triad" of personality traits.
How much would you pay to live for an extra year?
Human life is so precious, it seems crass to put a price on it. How can a pile of coins, paper or gold bars match a year on Earth? Life should be, quite literally, invaluable....

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