The Believer has the story of how a thirtysomething former Mormon missionary ended up writing the conclusion to the most popular fantasy series since Tolkien.

Gliese 581g is the most promising habitable world astronomers have found so far, but the chances of finding life there are vanishingly slim. From The Space Review, Andrew J. LePage on the beginnings of planetary exploration; and Jeff Foust on debating the future of human spaceflight and on space tourism and space policy (and more). We’ve been to the moon and Mars is easy, but landing on Venus? That’s tough. From Beijing Review, unidentified flying objects (UFO) are a fascinating topic that has puzzled millions of people around the world — Chinese researchers and fans of UFOs are no exception (and more and more). Phoning ET: An argument over whether to send messages to aliens. Atlas Obscura on the world's first UFO landing pad. Should we be worried about alien invasions? Michio Kaku is on the case.

Chapman University's Lawrence Rosenthal on how originalism is useless, and on what the legal career of John Yoo tells us about who should be teaching law.

A review of Big History and the Future of Humanity by Fred Spier. Making historical comparisons: John R. McNeill reviews of Natural Experiments of History, edited by Jared Diamond and James A. Robinson, and Why America Is Not a New Rome by Vaclav Smil. From BookTV, an interview with Gordon Wood. Neal Ascherson reviews Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography by Adam Sisman (and more). A review of A Passion for History: Conversations with Denis Crouzet by Natalie Zemon Davis. Simon Schama, hacked down to size: A new collection of the television historian's ­newspaper writing is barely journalism, but the author’s cultural insights remain as exciting as ever. The "History of History Tree", part of a larger project that also maps relations within other academic disciplines, now makes it easy to trace the lineages of notable professors.

Where have all the good food writers gone? Restaurant reviews abound online but few beat the experienced writers that readers trust. Eat, drink and be merry: How a crazy application of chaos theory shows the best way to digest a medicinal drug; and how maths can tell us the safest way to cook food (in a microwave oven).