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
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
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
The Network Within Us
Everything is connected. And so it is in the human body too. Everything in the human body is connected. No doubt that all your organs – heart, liver, lungs – work as one to keep you alive and as close as possible to a healthy state. Continue reading We Consider Human Network Physiology and Medicine – The “Body Electric” – Part Deux
The World population has grown to 7 billion, and it is expected to reach over 9 billion by 2050. In the long-term, this growth is unsustainable, as vital resources are becoming increasingly depleted and humanity faces a number of threats to its continued expansion. Many believe that scientists will solve these problems with new technology. Are humans causing the sixth mass extinction? What is the reality? Continue reading In the Midst of the Sixth Mass Extinction…
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
Plant life is one of Nature’s miracles. Imagine being a plant and almost all you will ever need to keep on striving is sheer sunlight. In green plants, both photosynthesis and aerobic respiration occur. It’s a lot like the way in which the human body breaks down food into fuel that it can store. Essentially, using energy from the Sun, a plant can transform carbon dioxide CO2 and water into glucose and oxygen… Continue reading A Day in the Life of a Plant – Photosynthesis and Phytochemistry
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?
Already this article is beginning to sound like one of those sempiternal quizzes you so often get on social media… but it actually shows how science reality connects. Are you having a scientific identity crisis? Continue reading Lateral Thinking in Science – Who Are You?
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
Do you feel overwhelmed with the amount of information you have to deal with? Do you spend time drawing up a shopping list, only to forget it on the kitchen table when you leave the house? I know I do. In the words of Homer Simpson: “Every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain.” Don’t worry! Scientists think that it is perfectly normal, and even an essential part of the brain’s learning process. Continue reading Forget Me… Not!
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
Better than the A-Team, it’s COP21! Never have so many World leaders been in the same place on the same day. This time, they have just ten years to make a difference! Could the problems be solved? Will the World finally be saved? Continue reading COP21 – The Return Les “Entreprenieurs” in Paris
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
Mars is not the dry, arid planet we once thought it was. Under certain circumstances, liquid water has been found. NASA’s announcement has the potential of turning some Red Planet theories on their heads…
Online Citizen Science Project
A new online citizen science initiative, Fossilfinder, is inviting ordinary members of the public to help hunt for fossils in the Kenyan desert. The volunteers will have the opportunity to sift through one million images from the arid Turkana Basin – a key area for fossils of early human ancestors. Continue reading Armchair Fossil Hunting in the Turkana Basin
Once upon a time, Europe was almost covered by one giant forest. Now, it’s almost entirely fields and grasslands. Humans are controlling tree densities. Understanding the global extent and distribution of forest trees is central to our understanding of the terrestrial biosphere. Continue reading Three Trillion Trees
The radiocarbon 14C dating method has been used for decades to accurately determine the age of a wide range of artefacts. But our relentless use of fossil fuels has pumped a type of carbon into the atmosphere that is starting to confuse the dating technique. By 2050, scientists warn, new fabrics could have the same radiocarbon date as items 1,000 years old! Continue reading The Future of RadioCarbon Dating – And an Overview of the AMS Technique
Look into my eyes. The eyes, the eyes. Not around the eyes. Don’t look AROUND the eyes. Look INTO my eyes. The eyes… [click] You’re not under! But… Can you read my mind? Continue reading Eyes of the Beholder
Forensic researchers from the University of Salzburg have developed a new method for establishing an exact time of death after as long as 10 days – a significant step forward from the current method of measuring core body temperature, which only works up to 36 hours after death. Continue reading We Check the Time of Death with Post-Mortem Degradation of Skeletal Proteins – And Other Gruesome Forensic Facts of Life