Biosciences

Our Neanderthal Ancestry

Alba Landra uncovers the ancient ancestry that underlies modern human evolution. MODERN HUMANS have managed to reach every corner of the globe and with current population sizes rising rapidly, we could stake a claim to being the most ‘successful’ hominid species yet. However, how much has our recent ancestry impacted our evolution, and have our previous interbreeding events helped, or even hindered, our success as a species? About 100,000 years ago,

Driving Away Mosquitos

Zohaib Arain explains the potential for new genetic tools to tackle deadly diseases. MOSQUITO BORNE viruses like Malaria, Dengue, and Zika, account for more than half a million deaths per year. Vaccines have proved mostly ineffective against these killer diseases; and while prevention seems to be somewhat useful, the money and infrastructure needed to supply bed-nets and insecticides to their populations is simply insurmountable for developing countries in which these diseases are

The World Is What We Eat

Jacob Ashton tackles one of the biggest challenges facing mankind. “If we fail on food, we fail on everything,” said Charles Godfray in a paper five years ago, addressing concerns over food production and security. Throughout history, being able to sustain a growing population has been at the forefront of the minds of philosophers, politicians and scientists alike. We have always managed to find a way to feed the population,

FOCUS: AI and the power of the neuron

Alex Bates looks at how neurobiology has inspired the rise of artificial intelligence Since the ancient Greeks wrote the great automaton, Talos of Crete, into myth, science fiction has tinkered much with artiffcial intelligence (AI) in its well stocked playground. Isaac Asimov is perhaps the most famous man-handler of sci-fi’s best beloved toy, his three laws of robotics proving highly influential. Subsequently, lm has dissolved AI’s delicious possibilities and dangers

How our experiences affect our children

Epigenetics: How our experiences affect our children Jiali Gao looks at what toad sex, a suicide and starvation have taught genetics The theory of evolution is up there with the ‘universal law of gravitation’ and the ‘theory of general relativity’ when it comes to popular science. Darwin and Lamarck’s famous historical showdown is ensconced in GCSE Science textbooks, with Darwin emerging as the heroic victor, whilst Lamarck’s work is relegated

Does Your Brain Have a Sex?

Does your brain have a sex? Julia Gottwald shows us that human male and female brains are more similar than we think If you were a fruit fly and smelled male pheromones, you would show a strong and consistent response. As a female fly, you would engage in courtship behaviour; as a male fly, you would become more aggressive. We know that pheromones activate different clusters of neurons in the

Travel and Conservation – Steppes Beyond

Last weekend I attended a unique festival at the Royal Geographical Society, London, that presented talks and discussions by conservationists, explorers, travel experts, wildlife documentary presenters and producers. Hosted by Steppes Travel, their first ‘Beyond’ two-day festival aimed to inspire everyone to embark on adventures into the wilderness, whether on safaris to the plains of Africa or rambles getting lost in ones own back garden. The higher end of which is offered by Steppes: from snow leopard tracking in India to

Nature Matters 2016

Nature Matters 2016 By Simon Moore Two weekends ago I was in Cambridge for a New Networks for Nature meeting in the wonderful David Attenborough building, which brought together science and art to explore the way we relate to nature. Conservationists, ecologists and environmentalists were interspersed with poets, novelists, musicians and visual artists, to build up a picture of the diverse range of responses to the natural world, in order

Review: Before the Wilderness

Edited by Thomas Blackburn & Kat Anderson. Published by Malki Press-Ballena Press (1993) Its all too easy to get so lost in our busy urban lives surrounded by bright MacBook screens and concreted landscapes that we forget humid tropical rainforests and alpine mountain peaks really still exist outside of nature books and TV documentaries. Certainly, the idea that people who have never seen white skin and who rely on hunting