Mrittunjoy Guha Majumdar talks Bohmian mechanics, the ‘causal interpretation’ of the strange world of quantum mechanics. Fluid droplets bounce when placed on the surface of a vibrating fluidic bath. A student working at the Matter and Complex Systems Laboratory, National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France discovered this using oil droplets and an oil bath in 2005. The bouncing of the droplets seemed to be guided by an unseen
Charles Jameson examines neuroscience’s role in solving the most difficult computational problems IN MAY 1997, IBM’s computer program ‘Deep Blue’ infamously defeated chess world champion Garry Kasparov in a set of six highly anticipated games. In a curious case of repeated history, DeepMind’s program ‘AlphaGo’ did the same for the ancient Chinese board game of ‘Go’ 19 years later, beating 18-time world champion Lee Sedol 4–1 in March 2016. While
Kasparas Vasiliauskas looks under our feet at some of the Earth’s most overlooked material. Met in almost every step we take, soils, despite being so familiar, are often overlooked in discussions of natural systems. This is evident, for example, in making climate models and predictions and even more so when thinking about humanity’s future outside Earth. The entirety of soils and the space where their formation takes place is called
Maeve Madigan discusses how and why we can leverage Antarctic ice to find some of the most elusive particles in the known Universe.
James Kershaw discusses whether new data is raining on, or could prove, this fashionable hypothesis Water is essential for life. In this article, we explore the palaeoclimatological evidence linking societal change to periods of drought, with a specific focus on the Maya civilisation. It has been the subject of recent sensationalist news articles, so we ask whether science can conclusively confirm how the great society collapsed. “We definitely consider ourselves
James Weber explains the role of positive feedback loops and how they could lead to runaway environmental disaster Our atmosphere can be thought of as a single, highly complex system. The complexity arises in part due to the coupling of a vast array of different elements, such as temperature, wind speed, and chemical composition. Should one element be disturbed, others will also change, and this perturbation will propagate throughout the
Scientists work together to create more effective medicines Advances continue to progress personalised medicine, a field in which drugs are tailored to patients’ needs based on their genetic information. Historically, simply screening patients’ genomes enabled this trend but more recently, synthetic nucleotide-based medicines have taken this a step further. Nucleotide-based medicines use artificial DNA and RNA (nucleotides) to target cellular genetic information directly, shutting off genetic diseases at their source.
Harry Lloyd ponders our duty to think ahead of technological progress As we marvel at the latest gadgets, technology is already working behind the scenes to bring us the ‘Next Big Thing’. It has a sly habit of developing rapidly, but never making leaps so big we collectively stop to think about where it’s all headed. Like a toad in a slowly heating bath of water, we might not know
Katherine Dudman introduces genetic discrimination, the sly cousin of racism and sexism Have you ever spared a thought for the value of the information encoded in your genes? Have others? We are constantly bombarded with headlines about the latest research to link behaviour, appearance or disease to variations in our genetic makeup. You may even have considered your own chances of developing cancer, escaping Alzheimer’s or making it through to
Sophie Protheroe examines the global history of tea and its effect on our health Tea has become a quintessentially British symbol. As a nation, we have been drinking tea for over 350 years. However, tea has endured a tumultuous journey to reach its status as the nation’s favourite beverage. Originating in China, where it was thought to have medicinal properties, tea’s history is closely intertwined with the history of botany