Potentially signalling that the internet is finally running out of lifestyle ideas, TikTok users are spreading butter on pieces of wood and calling it cuisine. The resulting (imaginatively titled) “butter board” is then served to guests as party food. Your host may even provide you with some bread or toast to dip into the butter. Can you even imagine such a thing?

Look, don’t blame me for this nonsense. I’m not defending it. And since our article on the butter board is among the most popular we’ve published this week, I put it to you that you secretly want to try one.

Our author describes butter as “one of the ultimate sources of saturated fat” and recommends moderation. But rejoice, because he also says that you are fine to try one every now and again, if you really must.

At this point it feels like Rishi Sunak became prime minister about five years ago. But it was in fact just five days ago. It’s the latest act in Britain’s longest running tragi-comedy-of-errors, writes Orlaith Darling, who sees something distinctly Shakespearean in the comings and goings of our prime ministers. Here, she casts Boris Johnson as King Lear and Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng as Anthony and Cleopatra.

Another very important political story got a bit lost in all the drama of the past week. Nicola Sturgeon announced that it would be her intention for Scotland to join the European Union if it became an independent country. Given that Scotland voted Remain in the 2016 Brexit referendum, we wanted to find out whether such a promise would tip No voters towards Yes in a potential second independence referendum. John Curtice crunches the numbers here.

Also this week, unbelievably rare microbes, spooky zombie planets and a surprising debate about sanitary products on Chinese trains.

Laura Hood

Politics Editor, Assistant Editor

Butter boards are sort of like a charcuterie board featuring artisanal butters. zarzamora/ Shutterstock

Are butter boards bad for you? An expert view on the latest food trend

Duane Mellor, Aston University

An occasional butter board with friends is unlikely to cause any harm.

New prime minister, Rishi Sunak, is the latest to take on the leading role in this unravelling Shakespearean drama. Allstar Picture Library Ltd/Alamy

Four of Shakespeare’s plays and how they speak to the current political situation in Britain

Orlaith Darling, Trinity College Dublin

Shakespeare often portrayed crises of legitimacy and reflected on the politics of his day but the Tories might not fare so well in a modern production.

Nicola Sturgeon at the SNP conference in April 2022. Iain Masterton / Alamy Stock Photo

Scottish independence: how Nicola Sturgeon’s pledge to rejoin the EU could impact a referendum vote

John Curtice, University of Strathclyde

Recent polling indicates that the EU question is central in the minds of Scottish independence voters.

Legendrea loyezae, a very rare ciliate that lives in oxygen-free sediments of lakes. James Weiss

How we found microbes rarer than a ticket to the Moon

Genoveva Esteban, Bournemouth University; James Weiss, Bournemouth University

Microbes are so tiny humans can’t see them without special equipment. But the discovery of 20 new species will help scientists map the evolutionary tree of life.


Zombie worlds: five spooky planets orbiting dead stars

Gareth Dorrian, University of Birmingham

A handful of zombie planets have been spotted – thought to have been born after the death of their host stars.

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