Editor's note

Half a century after Soviet tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia to put down the Prague Spring rebellion, memories of the communist occupation in Eastern Europe remain raw. The inscription on a monument to Marshal Konev, a war hero in the struggle against Nazism, was recently rewritten to reflect his role in the repression of 1968, while all over the former Eastern Bloc, war memorials to Soviet troops are being defaced or torn down. Antony Kalashnikov reveals how the Soviet Union used war memorials as propaganda.

Exactly how and when life arose on our planet is a bit of a mystery – in part thanks to a lack of very ancient fossils. But now scientists have developed a new timescale for the evolution of life based on genetic data, which suggests that the common ancestor of all living things on Earth evolved much earlier than previously thought. Holly Betts explains.

The rise in knife crime in the UK is alarming, particularly in inner city areas. But considering how much anxiety the problem causes, we still know precious little about why people carry weapons. Iain Brennan’s latest research identifies some potentially useful links that could help us get to the bottom of this troubling phenomenon.

Jonathan Este

Associate Editor, Arts + Culture Editor

Top stories

Monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia, Bulgaria, painted overnight on February 24 2014 by unknown activists in solidarity with anti-Russian protests in Ukraine. Wikimedia Commons

Soviet war memorials in Eastern Europe continue to strain relations with Russia

Antony Kalashnikov, University of Oxford

The Soviet programme of building war memorials in Eastern Bloc countries was a bid to win the hearts and minds of future generations.

Earth’s Pacific Ocean seen from the International Space Station. NASA

Ancestor of all life on Earth evolved earlier than we thought, according to our new timescale

Holly Betts, University of Bristol

Genetic data has helped scientists develop new estimates for the origin and evolution of life on Earth.

Knife crime is on the rise in England and Wales. PA/ Jonathan Brady

Knife crime: important new findings could help us understand why people carry weapons

Iain Brennan, University of Hull

Distrust in the police is a surprisingly central factor when people arm themselves illegally.

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