Shakes and the City

Seán Thór Herron talks to Dr Emily So about preparing for earthquakes in urban areas At a quarter to three on Friday, 11th March 2011, as the citizens of the Honshu island of Japan were looking forward to the weekend, tectonic stresses caused a massive slip on the ocean floor off the East coast. The sea floor jerked as much as ten metres upward and fiftymetres horizontally. The rupture length

The Last Lunar Explorer: An interview with Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the Moon

Jackson Howarth (from LUUSci at the University of Leeds) chats with Gene Cernan This article is cross-published from LUUSci, the Leeds University Union student science magazine (originally published March 6, 2017). It is appearing on BlueSci’s website as part of a new initiative to form a UK-wide network of university science magazines. Membership is growing, and currently includes BlueSci (University of Cambridge), LUUSci (University of Leeds), {react} (Newcastle University), Kinesis (UCL), and

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

Engineering in Time

Martha Dillon discusses why civil engineers should care about the past In architecture, an understanding of ancient buildings and a working knowledge of their history is taken as a given. Norman Foster, master of the then-futuristic glass skyscraper, once commented that “as an architect you design for the present, with an awareness of the past, for a future which is essentially unknown”. ­This typifies the attitude of most designers: old

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