Oh dear, it’s Christmas again. I’ll be honest, this time of year fills me with dread. For all the joy I’m supposed to giving to the world, the unrelenting jingles, marauding shoppers and saccharine TV ads leave me, well, joyless. And then, when the day itself arrives, it brings with it awkward gift-exchanges, schmaltzy movies and the only meal of the year that takes eight hours to cook and 10 minutes to eat.


It’s actually in the aftermath, once the Queen goes into hibernation and someone’s been murdered on EastEnders, that the festive season really gets going for me. With the Snowman melted for another year, I can now do Christmas properly: Die Hard and Lethal Weapon punctuated by the Christmas Lectures.

The post-Christmas period also has a special place in my heart since it’s the only time of year you can legitimately put roast potatoes and gravy in a sandwich. More than that, though, it’s also one of the few times of the year I can – with a clear conscience – hide myself away with a good book.

Disappearing into a long read feels like a luxury after a busy year. If, like me, you enjoy a good book over the Christmas period, the latest issue of BBC Focus features some of the year’s best science reads – and in between them enjoy some of the best writers in the world sharing seven of the most interesting ideas in science today.

Either way, enjoy the winter break and see you in 2019!

© Sam Falconer
© Sam Falconer

More than a feeling

Delving into the phenomenon known as ASMR, or ‘brain tingles’.

Earth’s hidden oceans

Earth’s mantle may contain more water than its oceans – but that water can behave in some strange ways.

Can party drug MDMA help treat alcoholism?

A groundbreaking study in Bristol is using MDMA to help recovering alcoholics in therapy open up about their troubled pasts.

Fizz, pop, bang!

Ten of our favourite moments from the history of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures.


  • How old is the 'Man in the Moon'?
  • Why is destruction so satisfying?
  • Why do lions have manes?


Eye opener - Some of the best images from the Nikon Small World photography competition.

Discoveries - The month’s biggest science news stories. PLUS: Flying without fossil fuels.

Aleks Krotoski - Why the way you speak to smart home devices matters more than you think.

Michael Mosley - On the surprising power of the placebo.

Innovations - The latest technology and gadget news.

Out there - Brain food for the festive season: books, podcasts, documentaries and more.

Crossword - Give your grey matter a workout.

My life scientific - With materials scientist Dr Zoe Laughlin.

Don’t forget that BBC Focus is also available on all major digital platforms. We have versions for Android, Kindle Fire and Kindle e-reader, as well as an iOS app for the iPad and iPhone.

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Daniel BennettEditor, BBC Science Focus

Daniel Bennett is the Editor of BBC Science Focus. He is an award-winning journalist who’s been reporting on science and technology for over a decade, writing about the science of serials killers, sandwiches, supernovae and almost everything in between.