It’s cold down there. Icy cold. It’s dark. Pitch black, in fact. And the crushing pressures make the deepest parts of the oceans into some of the most hostile places on our planet. The lowest of the low. The deepest of the deep. Only three human explorers ever made it down there. As a brand new wave of deep-sea exploration begins, we look at the mysterious world where marine scientists will be diving into… Continue reading Sailing the Lower Midnight… – The Uncharted Frontier of Modern Deep-Sea Exploration
It comes at you as a breeze. As a gust. As a gale. Or in the scariest of situations as a hurricane or a tornado with wind speeds of up to 400 kilometres an hour. But what is wind?
Welcome to Jurassic Skye! While dinosaurs might be long dead and no threat to puny humans, the rich fossil record of the Scottish island of Skye – the “Misty Isle” – has provided palaeontologists with important clues to the lives of prehistoric predators and their preys. Continue reading Fantastic Beasts of the “Misty Isle” – Welcome to Jurassic Skye!
The term ‘Anthropocene’ has entered scientific literature as an expression of the fundamental environmental change caused to planet Earth by humankind, despite not being a formally defined geological unit within the geological time scale. The hunt is on for the “golden spike” – a marker for future researchers to point to in millions of years and identify as the geological start of the Anthropocene epoch. Continue reading Human versus Nature – The Golden Spike of the Anthropocene
A revolution in the treatment and understanding of clinical depression may be looming. And specialists are already talking about one of the strongest discoveries in psychiatry for the past two decades. For the 350 million people who suffer from the illness worldwide, this could potentially mean light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Continue reading Looking on the Bright Side of Clinical Depression
Be honest. We all have one. What’s your poison? Booze, tobacco, prescription drugs… or something a little more exotic? Cannabis is a controversial plant, regarded by many as a godsend. If Carlsberg made a ‘erb… Continue reading Panacea Nostrum – The Forensic Toxicology of Cannabis
The Evelyn tables are the oldest known anatomical preparations in Europe – a manner of human herbarium – showcased at a scarcely visited location in the very heart of London. Continue reading The Evelyn Tables – Musings on Leoni d’Este’s Human Herbarium
Prior to the discovery of nociceptors in 1906, scientists believed that animals were like mechanical devices that transformed the energy of sensory stimuli into motor responses. Pain is one of those stimulated reactions, but it is unlike other sensations. What is the purpose of pain? Continue reading Ouch!! #$@*!! – We Take a Quick Look at the Neuro-Physics of Pain
Erm…No. Not Mona Lisa! (Rolls eyes.) Think again!! This is LISA – the Lisa Pathfinder satellite, the key element for a grand new project: a space-based gravitational observatory. Continue reading Hunting Ripples in the Fabric of Space-Time – The Trials and Tribulations of LISA
They are made from assemblies of multiple elements fashioned from composite materials, like metals or plastics. And they promise to revolutionise the way we look at things. Continue reading Optically Brilliant Metamaterials
There is a side of us that is not unique to our own species. Evil. Why? How did it start? The first time. Asking why evil came into existence is a valid question. Evil behaviours are categorised into four distinct groups. Of course, it gets pretty dark. But what is “Evil”? Continue reading Breaking Bad – The Evolutionary Perspective of Evil
There is one essential difference between living things and inanimate clumps of carbon atoms. From an all-physical point of view, the former tend to be so much better at capturing energy from their environment and dissipating that energy as heat. At MIT, Jeremy England derived a mathematical formula that he believes explains this capacity. Continue reading A Theory of Life… The Physics of Cells and Macroscopic Irreversibility
Once a chic resort on the Bay of Naples, Herculaneum was favoured by the finest of Roman’s elite society, who spent the hot Italian summers there… until a catastrophe struck one afternoon in 79 AD. The Villa dei Papiri, excavated centuries later, was found to contain the only library to have survived from the Classical World – a unique cultural treasure, which the eruption of Mount Vesuvius nearly destroyed, and yet preserved all at once. How do you read what is essentially a charred book? Continue reading Between the Lines of the Herculaneum Papyri using X-Ray Imaging Techniques
Black Holes Far Ago Have Been Causing a Stir…
You know how when you throw a rock into a pool, that makes ripples in the water? And how Einstein once upon a time predicted that the very mass of stars and planets should warp spacetime? Although we have had a justified inkling that Einstein was right for quite some time, we had never before detected such a phenomenon. Until THIS happened… Continue reading The Discovery of Gravitational Waves – Merging Black Holes and Advanced LIGO
Most of us are familiar with the idea that our bodies need calcium. And calcium is indeed the key element in our bones. Calcium is the most abundant metal in the human body – and those of animals too. The fifth most abundant element on Earth and our World’s chosen architectural building block. Yes, calcium is a metal. Do we really appreciate its true value? Continue reading Yes, Calcium is a Metal!
We, humans, have driven environmental changes on a scale that is unique in Earth’s history. Human-driven biological, chemical and physical changes to the Earth’s system are so great, rapid and distinct that they may characterise an entirely new epoch – The Anthropocene. Continue reading Defining the Anthropocene – What is the Age of Man?
After nearly five hours in space, British astronaut Tim Peake completed his first spacewalk, at 17:31 GMT on Friday 15 January. Intended to last over six hours, the space walk was cut short after his US colleague Tim Kopra reported a water leak in his helmet. Continue reading Name: Tim Peake Job: Space Electrician
Just like buses, it seems. But even rarer and a damn sight more exciting to be honest. Ooohoo!!! Out with your old Science books!! HeL-LOOooo elements 113… 115, 117 and 118!! Continue reading You Wait Ages for a Chemical Element, and Then… BINGO!!
Finches in the Galápagos Islands are being threatened by a parasitic fly that attacks their young, placing the same species of birds that helped Charles Darwin refine his theory of evolution in danger of extinction. But the authors of a new study say that human intervention could alleviate the risk. Continue reading On the Evolution of Darwin’s Finches
There is a place on Earth where lightning storms last forever. We are at Catatumbo, in Venezuela. And this year, Catatumbo was approved for inclusion in the Guinness Book of World Records, as the place in the World with the most lightning bolts per square kilometre each year at 250. What causes such a powerful storm to develop in the same spot, up to 300 nights a year? Continue reading The Everlasting Storm of Catatumbo, Venezuela
The days of Professor Challenger are here. This week, scientists have set out to drill deeper into the Earth’s mantle than has ever been done before. This time, let us hope the World will not scream! Continue reading Professor Challenger, The Earth Core and The Moho
This blog is cool. It’s spontaneous! It’s electric!! But not as cool as it has been at these cutting-edge laboratories on the outskirts of Europe. Scientists there are dealing with an entirely new type of solid matter – ‘spontelectrics’. Continue reading What’s the Matter… with Spontelectrics?
Following World War I and World War II, at least three major powers disposed of massive quantities of captured, damaged and obsolete chemical warfare material by dumping them into the oceans. Mustard gas, phosgene, lewisite… Submerged chemical ammunitions pose very serious ongoing environmental problems. Continue reading What Lies Beneath – The Toxic Legacy of Post-War Ammunitions Sea Dumping
23rd October 2015. The ‘strongest ever’ hurricane recorded in the Western hemisphere is about to make a “potentially catastrophic” landfall on the western coast of Mexico. This is hurricane Patricia. At that time, the super storm is a Category 5. Weather scientists predict 20 inches of rain and 200 miles per hour winds… Continue reading On the Trail of Hurricane Patricia
In the run-up to the 2015 physics Nobel prize, which was awarded on Tuesday 6 October, Physics World looked at how Nobel-prize-winning physicists have been moving around the globe over the past century. Continue reading Physics Without Frontiers…