Author: technology-editor

Pterodactyls lived like seagulls

Jack McMinn investigates pterosaur parenting Pterosaurs were the the dominant airborne animals of the Mesozoic Era (252-66 million years ago), dying out alongside the dinosaurs and being ecologically replaced by birds. However, a new study by Xiaolin Wang et al. seems to suggest that pterosaurs often used the same evolutionary strategies as their avian replacements. Fossilised embryos of Hamipterus, a Chinese cousin of the famous Pteranodon, were found still inside

Read, learn, and inwardly digest

Joy Thompson studies the links between the lavatory and the literary In 2008, Goldstein and colleagues were concerned about a hole in the gastroenterology literature. It’s common knowledge that many a person has “first solaced his mind, then wiped his behind”, according to the limerick, but no-one had studied the effect of toilet reading on digestive health. Goldstein et al. hypothesised that toilet reading could make defecation easier by providing

Harry Potter and the Reactive Profile Picture

Martha Dillon investigates the technology behind living photographs If you ever worried that your online avatars were too static, or online banking app bots a little cold, a new collaboration between Facebook and Tel-Aviv University could be the answer. The project, published in November, has managed to not only animate the Mona Lisa and a variety of emojis, but also to bring a series of real human photographs to smiling, frowning

Ambling in the Arctic: a geological expedition in remote Greenland

Victoria Honour discusses Arctic camping, bear alarms, and the solidification of magma on her recent expedition to the Skaergaard intrusion True wilderness is hard to find in today’s globalised world. But with a population of only 70,000 people, and a landmass nine times the size of the UK, Greenland remains relatively untouched by human activity. Fieldwork there is a blissful escapism from the 24/7 connectivity of everyday life. Location, location,

Love on the Line

Jordan Ramsey explores how technology has reshaped our romantic relationships Technology has transformed the ways in which we form, interact in, and maintain romantic relationships. In contrast to the great number of unknowns involved in meeting people at parties, through friends, or at school, online dating now allows us to carefully browse potential mates and use matching algorithms to make our search more efficient. The most popular dating websites and

Open For Everyone

Haydn King describes the open-source software movement and two of its most striking characters “I’m doing a free operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional)…” announced a young Finnish PhD student to an internet message board on the 25th of August 1991. In the two decades since Linus Torvalds made this announcement, what started as a small and amateur operating system has revolutionised the IT world. Linux,

Cracking Codes

Philipp Kleppman deciphers the advance of cryptography throughout the centuries Recently, a dead carrier pigeon with a secret message from World War II was found during renovation of the chimney of a house in Surrey. It is believed that the message was sent from Nazi-occupied Normandy in June 1944. The encrypted message has been sent to the UK Government Communications Headquarters to be deciphered, so far without success. The amount

Decoding Quantum Computing

Simon Watson demystifies the complex world of quantum computing Quantum computers are regularly heralded as the future of computing, harnessing the power of atoms and elementary particles to perform calculations that today’s computers could only dream of. Quite how this remarkable feat is achieved is either complicated with jargon such as ‘qubits’, ‘superposition’ and ‘entanglement’ with no further description, or dismissed as too complicated for a layman. This article aims to explain how

Fracking: Facts and Fiction

Ollie Stephenson explains why the fracking debate is far from simple “I’m not a pessimist.  I’ve always had a great deal of faith in people that we won’t succumb to frenzy or rage or greed. ­ That we’ll figure out a solution without destroying the things that we love. I have not lost that sense.’’ So begins Josh Fox’s 2010 film, Gasland, which shot the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking,

Nanotech? That’s Ancient History!

Ramya Gurunathan shines a light on nanoparticles in Ancient Roman art Nanotechnology, the science of the small, emerged as a hot-button topic around the 1990s. It now has far-reaching impacts in multiple fields of technology, ranging from medicine to transportation, and has been particularly influential in electronics. It is an area of engineering focusing on the design of new materials and devices at the nanometre (nm) scale, one billionth of