In the split second that Tony Kofi was in suspension after he fell from the third storey of a building, his entire life flashed before his eyes. Then he hit the floor, fell unconscious, and awoke some time later in hospital. His experience is mirrored in the testimony of thousands of others who’ve reported serene, cinematic “life reviews” as they are in the throes of a near-death experience.

“My life flashed before my eyes” is a phrase we’re all familiar with, but we’re less familiar with the science behind the phenomenon. Particularly puzzling is the fact that, for many who’ve had such an experience, the memories of a lifetime are comfortably replayed within a vanishingly small amount of time. While experts have offered tentative explanations for this, we’ve heard from a psychologist who believes the altered state of consciousness we enter during traumatic experiences could actually shift our linear perspective of time itself.

Down in Cornwall, G7 leaders will be keenly aware of time ticking away on their pledge to achieve net zero by 2050. But an expert in environmental change argues we must aim to go much further, looking back in time to clean up after our historic emissions too. And our understanding of how COVID-19 variants can resist vaccines has taken another step forward with a study of how the virus can create “supercells” and potentially evade antibodies.

Alex King

Commissioning Editor, Science + Technology


‘My life flashed before my eyes’: a psychologist’s take on what might be happening

Steve Taylor, Leeds Beckett University

A different interpretation of time might explain why people see their whole lives replayed to them in a split second.

Bankside Power Station operated in central London between 1891 and 1981. Today, the building hosts the Tate Modern art gallery. Caroline Webb / Alamy

After net zero, we will need to go much further and clean up historic emissions

Tim Kruger, University of Oxford

Countries that industrialised early will still have a massive 'carbon debt' to repay.

American Photo Archive/Alamy Stock Photo

Coronavirus variants can evade antibodies by spreading via supercells – new research

Zania Stamataki, University of Birmingham

Scientists have discovered that SARS-CoV-2 can evade neutralising antibodies by fusing cells.

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