Author: elsa

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,

Peering into the Past

Dan Brubaker and a mishmash of know-nothings convene at the Dr Ralph L Buice, Jr Observatory, Atlanta A low, steady rumble vibrates through the air
and under my feet. It is the sound of a garage door closing, only this is no garage. The single curved wall that surrounds the room remains remarkably still. It
is the mechanical domed ceiling perched overhead
that is causing the ruckus, that is rotating with careful precision

Time Flies

Philip Myers tells us how scientists unravelled the secrets of time telling using the humble vinegar fly You cannot win a Nobel Prize if you are dead. Last year, the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine was awarded for the ‘elucidation of the molecular mechanisms controlling circadian rhythms’, and the living received the credit. But some missed out – some who had passed away, who had been central to the

Why Limit Ourselves to Silverware?

Think goldware, zincware and copperware! Bianca Provost explains what Professor Mark Miodownik’s work can tell us about materials and food With every spoonful of food you eat, you are 
also consuming billions of atoms worth of the spoon’s material. It should therefore come as no surprise that your spoon’s composition affects the taste of your
meal. Dr Mark Miodownik, Professor of Materials and Society as well as director of the Institute