Author: Elsa Loissel

I need my sleep

Insights from flies challenge traditional notions, reports Matthew Brady The complaint ‘I need my sleep’ may have become a thing of the past with the release of some new research from Imperial College. In a paper entitled Most sleep does not serve vital function: Evidence from Drosophila melanogaster in the scientific journal Science Advances, researchers deprived flies of sleep. Using motion detection software calibrated using over 4000 days of fly activity, flies micromovements were monitored. If, after

Scientists capture the first image of a black hole event horizon

Mrittunjoy Majumdar A network of eight radio telescopes spanning locations in various continents, from Antarctica to Europe and South America, called the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) has captured the first image of a black hole ever. In a project that involved more than 200 scientists, the latest achievement of the team marks a milestone in the study of the enigma that black holes are. Einstein’s general relativity first laid the theoretical groundwork for predicting the existence of black

Review: The Violinist’s Thumb

“Every word and sentence contribute to the engaging narrative – the book is just impossible to put down!” Sam Kean matches his bestselling predecessor – “The Disappearing Spoon” in the vibrancy of storytelling and may even supersede it. The book proves once again that Sam Kean can explain difficult concepts in a simple but not simplistic way, and to make science entertaining for any audience. Exploring the wonders of DNA, this book answers perplexing questions on heredity and

Sulawesi: A Seismological Mystery

The Sulawesi earthquake should not have produced tsunamis, but it did. Ben Johnson speaks to Professor James Jackson about how it happened, and how we could prepare for future incidents On 28th September 2018 at around 3pm local time, the residents of the city of Palu, Indonesia felt an earthquake of magnitude 6.1. Damage to several buildings was sustained, ten people were injured, and at least one person was killed. Three hours later, an earthquake

Review: To Be a Machine

“Akin to a traveller’s diary, this book describes unbelievable technologies of tomorrow, such as mind uploading, cryonics, artificial superintelligence and device implantation” Visiting laboratories and conferences, bunkers and basements, O’Connell meets foremost scientists, programmers, philanthropists and entrepreneurs, who are ahead of their time and have dedicated their lives to transforming humanity with technological enhancement. Akin to a traveller’s diary, this book describes unbelievable technologies of tomorrow, such as mind uploading, cryonics, artificial superintelligence and device implantation. It also unearths ethical conundrums that

Review: Chemistry

“Under various pressures the American-Chinese narrator quits her chemistry PhD and struggles with her long-term relationship…” There is more to scientific research than the work itself. Weike Wang’s novel, Chemistry, raises questions about the tenants of science that ignore personal lives. Under various pressures the American-Chinese narrator quits her chemistry PhD and struggles with her long-term relationship. Charting her coming to terms with these losses, the story is both upbeat and cautionary. The scientific setting is not overdone; it could

Review: Adventures in the Anthropocene

“For many of us, the effects of the Anthropocene may feel far off, but as human activity continues unabated, this book is an important journey we all should take“ The term Anthropocene is used to reflect the age of human influence on our planet. A read of Gaia Vince’s Adventures in the Anthropocene is an unquestionable must for every one of us. In ten chapters, each representing a different ecosystem, Vince reflects on a monumental journey to understand what the

Walking in the footsteps of robotic fossils

Robot of ancient fossil enables scientists to model gait Ripples are forming at the surface of a glass of water; scared children huddle at the back of a car; ominous footsteps resonate on the not-so-distant-anymore horizon. And suddenly, it appears: swinging its tail side-to-side, little arms tucked on the side, a T-rex makes its way into the frame, walking its characteristic walk. But how do we know which gait the now (thankfully) extinct giant adopted? Fossils can

Most distant planetary flyby in history

The NASA probe captured photographs of the distant object Three years ago, NASA’s New Horizons probe made its famous flyby of the dwarf planet Pluto. On New Year’s day 2019, the probe made history again, in its flyby of Ultima Thule. This is the farthest away object humanity has ever visited in the Solar System, 6.5 billion km away from the Earth. Flying as ‘close’ to the object as 3,500km, New Horizons took a series of stunning

Live bacteria pills, a possibility

Pills containing live bacteria on the horizon Taking a pill full of live bacteria does not sound like a medicine that your doctor would, or could, prescribe – but it might soon be. In the last decade, gut microbiome research has drawn a lot of attention and funding, but it was not clear whether any therapies would come out of it any time soon. Synlogic, Inc in Cambridge, MA developed a live bacterial therapy to treat phenylketonuria,