Science in Society

A Laser Game Controller for the Cambridge Science Festival

James Macdonald describes designing a system to control video games with lasers. Each year over 1000 visitors pass through the main doors of the Institute for Manufacturing for the Cambridge Science Festival; around 300 laser-engineers-of‑the-future make it into the laboratories of the Centre for Industrial Photonics.  Among the many exhibits was the laser video game controller developed by the MRes Ultra Precision CDT (Centre for Doctoral Training) students. In this

Regulation and Foresight

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

Is the Evolution of Language all Talk?

Steve Samuel ponders whether it is worth tackling the central question of how language has come to be How is it that one species alone on this planet evolved language? Though we are not the only animal to have acquired a unique capability, language is so woven into the fabric of our species that it forms the defining element of our species-identity. For some, without language we would not even

Judged by your Genes

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

No Time for Hot Air

Lauren Broadfield reflects on the state of climate change policies in an increasingly hostile political environment In a recent interview with fellow naturalist Chris Packham, Sir David Attenborough proclaimed that “humanity must come to its senses or face environmental disaster”. We are never short of reminders that climate change is a pressing global problem: we see climate refugees forced to flee their homes, changes in the distribution of some water-borne

Just Your Cup of Tea

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

Why care about the Polar Bear?

Rachael Beasley reveals how there is more to polar bears than meets the eye Climate change. Already in your mind are images of traffic jams hazy with pollution, melting icecaps, and most likely the polar bear. This year marked the fifth lowest Arctic sea ice extent since records began. The low amount of ice has a severe impact on the bears – in fact, they are increasingly becoming known as

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,

A Look Behind the Ice Sheet: The Polar Museum's Greenland Exhibit

Uummannaq: A Century of Exploration BlueSci takes an inside look at The Polar Museum’s recent exhibition The Polar Museum, on Cambridge’s Lensfield Road, is currently showing an exhibition on the town of Uumannaq, Greenland and the research being carried out by the attached Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) on the surrounding glaciers. BlueSci correspondent Seán Herron was lucky enough to receive a tour of the exhibition from Tom Chudley, one

Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded for Detection of Gravitational Waves

Theo Steele explores the science behind this year’s Nobel Prize In general relativity, spacetime is treated as a geometric surface.  This surface is capable of warping and bending, and gravity can be thought of as the result of curvature which alters trajectories.  Gravitational waves are distortions in this surface that propagate as a wave and transport energy as gravitational radiation. The possibility that waves of gravitational radiation might exist has