Category Archives: Life

Sash, Chillers and Power Hungry Accelerators – The Embarrassing Truth about Modern Science Laboratories

A drawing illustrating the Carbon Lab Print: Fume hoods that are left open can use the same amount of energy over a given period as 3.5 homes. Image: NaturPhilosophieCome in.  Step into the pristine environment of a modern science laboratory.  With all its cutting-edge equipment neatly arranged and organised work spaces clearly delineated, you might just be forgiven for thinking it is a model of sustainability but…  Look a bit closer!  You might be surprised…

Continue reading Sash, Chillers and Power Hungry Accelerators – The Embarrassing Truth about Modern Science Laboratories

A Bouquet of Pesticides – The Dark Side of Flowers

Pesticides have a dramatic impact on the health of ecosystems, posing real risks to pollinating insects, such as bees.  But did you know that your favourite bouquet may be posing a risk to your own well-being? Continue reading A Bouquet of Pesticides – The Dark Side of Flowers

The Universe Expands Far Faster Than Anticipated…

The Universe is accelerating

For a while now, astrophysicists have known that our Universe is expanding, and accelerating.  And much like the surface of a rubber balloon getting inflated, space is getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger… Continue reading The Universe Expands Far Faster Than Anticipated…

Large Asteroid Impacts Earth…

An oil painting showing a large asteroid shooting through the skies above a body of water in the sunset. Artwork: NaturPhilosophie… And Hardly Anyone Notices!

Five years after the Chelyabinsk asteroid impact, a three-in-a-century event happens again over the Bering Sea.  And almost no-one notices.  I say “no-one”… but the Earth is a planet under constant scrutiny. Continue reading Large Asteroid Impacts Earth…

The Strange Operetta of the Singing Mouse

When Mice Serenade the Forest…

Until now, you might have been forgiven for thinking that singing mice were merely the product of Disney’s prolific imagination.  Not anymore!  Although it wasn’t classically trained by a modern P.T. Barnum, the singing mouse is a reality. Continue reading The Strange Operetta of the Singing Mouse

Artemisia and The Dirty Business of Malaria Pharmaceuticals

What If You Could Cure Malaria?

The fields of Senegal are at the centre of a controversial battle against deadly malaria.  With mosquitoes increasingly resistant to insecticides, and the parasite’s developing resistance to conventional remedies, the humanitarian emergency becomes ever more pressing worldwide.  A plant genus could be the answer: Artemisia.  But that goes against the wishes of the WHO…

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Artful Manipulations and Corporate Deceptions – When The Cracks Begin To Show…

A composite image showing the Champs Elysees Arc de Triomphe in Paris under a shower of firework explosions, with a yellow vest demonstrator holding a burning French flag in the foreground.Games of Thrones

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that the systematic and artful manipulation of the organised mores and moods of the average population is essential to maintaining democracy.  With well-rehearsed strategies, that is how the decision-making elite maintains its hold on power over the majority of us.  For you see, it’s like this…

Continue reading Artful Manipulations and Corporate Deceptions – When The Cracks Begin To Show…

Where the Chernobyl Wolf Roams…

A pseudo-photograph focusing on a grey wolf howling, with the abandoned Pripyat amusement park, near Chernobyl, Ukraine, in the background. Collage: NaturPhilosophie (2018)

Pushing the Boundaries

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster left behind a highly toxic landscape.  Thirty-two years hence, the area around the Ukrainian ghost town of Pripyat largely reverted to forest.  Despite the contamination, wildlife gradually took over.  Hints of recovery emerged as animal species began to thrive, free from the disruptive influence of human activity.  And for the first time, researchers recorded evidence of a young wolf boldly venturing away from the danger zone. 

Continue reading Where the Chernobyl Wolf Roams…

The Male Idiot Theory – Sex Differences in Risky Behaviour

A pseudo-photograph showing a man jumping off from an aeroplane without parachute, shouting "I'M AN IDII...OTT!!!". Image: NaturPhilosophieAre you a Risk Taker?

If so, are you a man??  Mmmh… yes…  The Male Idiot Theory: it’s not new but I thought I’d mention it in passing…  Ladies, enjoy…  Continue reading The Male Idiot Theory – Sex Differences in Risky Behaviour

Life Under The Microscope

A close-up negative photograph of the lenses on my microscope. Image: NaturPhilosophieThe Infinitesimally Small

Viewing tiny objects, like cells, under a microscope is a real game of hide-and-seek with the light.  It follows that the specimen must be carefully prepared, or ‘mounted’ on a slide.  Here we get a little closer to the eukaryotic cell.  The building block of life itself…  Continue reading Life Under The Microscope

A Day Trip to the Ayrshire Coast of Scotland

A photography and drawing montage depicting the dark silhouette of the Scottish Isle of Arran, as seen from a sandy beach in Ayrshire in Spring 2018, with the smiling Cocktail Party Physicist avatar at the foreground left. Image: NaturPhilosophieThe Cocktail Party Physicist at the Seaside

The Scottish coast is renowned for the wealth of its rocky features.  And if you can’t abide Geology, you can while away the hours with the local marine biology.  It’s dead quiet and if you’re lucky on a clear day, you might even see Arran magically emerge from the mist across the waters of the Clyde estuary. 

Continue reading A Day Trip to the Ayrshire Coast of Scotland

Radioactivity and the Background of Dancing Particles

A picture showing dancing black silhouettes, each one bearing a Greek letter, over an abstract background symbolising a radiation event. Artwork: NaturPhilosophie Natural Radiation

Our environment is permeated by radiation, present around us at all time.  We are constantly exposed to radioactivity from natural sources for the most part naturally occurring radioactive nuclei in rocks and cosmic rays – the ‘background’.  Without ado, this is my lowdown on radioactivity.

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Mercury Rising – Climate Change and the Arctic Permafrost

Abstract artwork for Mercury Rising, depicting layers of liquid mercury pooling through the Siberian tundra. Image: NaturPhilosophieAs Permafrost Melts…

Mercury is rising.  And in many more ways than one.  As global temperatures go up, the Arctic ice is melting.  Sea level rises.  Carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere.  But below the permafrost, another threat is lurking. 

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Closer to Midnight… – The Countdown to Doomsday Earth

Artwork for Trinity Event's Doomsday Clock at One Minute Past Twelve. Digital Image: NaturPhilosophieWhat Time Is It?

No need to be an atomic scientist, when you’re considering the state of the World today, to understand the picture is an alarming one.  Allegorically-speaking, the Earth is now only two minutes away from impending catastrophe.  Continue reading Closer to Midnight… – The Countdown to Doomsday Earth

The Francis Crick Institute – Open For Boundless Scientific Discovery

A photograph of the beautifully modern and sustainable Francis Crick Institute building, in central London, overlaid with a blue and white neon sign that says "OPEN". Image: NaturPhilosophieOpen For Science

At the heart of central London, opposite St Pancras’ International station, stands the new Francis Crick Institute – a working building with distinctive ultra-modern architecture.  Important science is being done here.  Life-changing science. Continue reading The Francis Crick Institute – Open For Boundless Scientific Discovery

Future Floods and Melting Ice Sheets – Predicting with GRACE

A picture showing the artist's vision of the buildings of Parliament and Big Ben clock tower being overtaken by the waves, or more precisely by a muddy version of Hokusai's Big Wave. Image: NaturPhilosophieForecasting Sea-Level Rise

On the whole, Earth scientists agree that melting of land ice greatly contributes to sea-level rise.  And one thing’s for sure.  Future global warming will exacerbate the risks posed to human civilisation.  But…  What if you could forecast major floods?  You can.  Continue reading Future Floods and Melting Ice Sheets – Predicting with GRACE

Ten Rivers on Earth – The Great Plastic Tide

Part drawing, part photograph showing a child riding a boat and collecting plastic containers from the clogged up surface of a river. Image: NaturPhilosophieA Plastic Tide

10 rivers on Earth may be responsible for around 90% of oceanic plastic pollution in the World.  Continue reading Ten Rivers on Earth – The Great Plastic Tide

Fingerprint Forensics Delve Deeper Into Spectrometry Analysis

A drawing showing a fingerprint, and all that it can reveal: Male or Female, Drug Use, Alcohol, Food Types, Hair Gel, Condoms...

Another Brick in the Whorl of Forensic Science

Fingerprint spectrometry analysis – a technology which can detect the brand of hair gel or condom used by a suspect – could soon be admissible as evidence in UK courts.  Continue reading Fingerprint Forensics Delve Deeper Into Spectrometry Analysis

Can Ayahuasca Feed Your Spirit?

Three pairs of hands holding an ethnic-style drinking bowl in unison, with stick-and-ball model of the dimethyltryptamine (DMT) drug molecule in the foreground centre of the image. Image: NaturPhilosophieSpirit Molecule

Scientists found early evidence that Ayahuasca, a ceremonial psychedelic brew used by Amazon tribes for centuries, could help treat eating disorders. Continue reading Can Ayahuasca Feed Your Spirit?

Glyphosate Safety: European Evaluation Report “Carbon-Copy” of Monsanto’s

An illustration showing a stick-and-ball model of the glyphosate molecule in front of a spray bottle of popular "Roundup" weedkiller. The whole image is in negative colours. Image: NaturPhilosophieWeedkiller Safety Report

Part of the European Union’s report on the non-hazardous nature of glyphosate-based herbicides is actually a “carbon copy” of a report published by American giant Monsanto according to the European press.  Continue reading Glyphosate Safety: European Evaluation Report “Carbon-Copy” of Monsanto’s

Don’t Rat on the Neighbours… – An Urban Tale

A digital image focusing on a black rat and a brown rat inside in a small lit up tunnel. Artwork: NaturPhilosophieWhat is it about Rats?!!

If​ ​the​ ​urban​ ​myth​ ​was​ ​true,​ ​you’d​ ​never​ ​be  farther​ ​than​ ​two​ ​metres​ ​from​ ​the​ ​nearest​ ​rat​ ​in  London.​  ​But​ ​as​ ​far​ ​as​ ​neighbours​ ​go,​ ​wild​ ​rats  keep​ ​to​ ​themselves.​  ​And​ ​why​ ​shouldn’t​ ​they?  We,​ ​humans,​ ​are​ ​their​ ​commensal​ ​enemy.  Continue reading Don’t Rat on the Neighbours… – An Urban Tale

On the Rapid Demise of the Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica

A digital image showing the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica breaking down. Artwork: NaturPhilosophiePine Island Bay, Antarctica

A large chunk of the Pine Island Glacier has broken free today, the media announced.  The giant iceberg is estimated to cover an area of roughly 6,000 km2.  About a quarter the size of Wales in the United Kingdom. Continue reading On the Rapid Demise of the Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica

Charming New Particle Xi-cc++ Discovered at CERN

Abstract artist impression of the particle newly discovered at CERN in psychedelic colours. Artwork: NaturPhilosophieThe Xi-cc++ Particle

CERN’s LHCb collaboration has announced the discovery of a new “charming” particle, thought to be instrumental to the strong force – the Xi-cc++.  Another particle.  So…? Continue reading Charming New Particle Xi-cc++ Discovered at CERN

The Spark of Being – A Not-So-Brief History of Life and Electricity

An original interpretation in inverted negative colours blue and white of the famous 1901 historical black and white photograph showing ground-breaking inventor and electricity visionary Nikola Tesla sitting in his laboratory at Colorado Springs amid a flurry of artificially-produced lightning discharges. Image: NaturPhilosophieOmnipresent Electricity

Within every object on Earth lies concealed a positive or a negative electric charge.  From the very structure of the atom to the essential functioning of our brains, the natural power of electricity is all around us, and it is one of the most potent symbols of our Modern World. Making the story of electricity, the story of life itself…  Continue reading The Spark of Being – A Not-So-Brief History of Life and Electricity

All of the Water on Earth – A Graphene-Based Sieve for Desalination

A double exposure digital image with repeated graphene patterns and drinking glass at the centre. Artwork: NaturPhilosophieMaking Seawater Safe to Drink

There are 1.3 billion cubic kilometres of water on Earth.  Nevertheless, ready access to clean drinking water remains a major issue for millions of people.  A much sought-after innovation was developed by a UK-based team of researchers who created a graphene-based sieve capable of removing salt from seawater.  The new technology could aid millions around the World.

Continue reading All of the Water on Earth – A Graphene-Based Sieve for Desalination