Autonomous Vehicles: Looking at the Road Ahead

James Macdonald interviews Professor John Miles and start-up Wayve about the future of autonomous vehicles In the UK, there are 48 million driving license holders, around three-quarters of the population. The car has been a huge enabler of personal mobility across society and the ability to travel is a large part of the quality of life we now enjoy. But for such an embedded part of our culture there are

I need my sleep

Insights from flies challenge traditional notions, reports Matthew Brady The complaint ‘I need my sleep’ may have become a thing of the past with the release of some new research from Imperial College. In a paper entitled Most sleep does not serve vital function: Evidence from Drosophila melanogaster in the scientific journal Science Advances, researchers deprived flies of sleep. Using motion detection software calibrated using over 4000 days of fly activity, flies micromovements were monitored. If, after

Scientists capture the first image of a black hole event horizon

Mrittunjoy Majumdar A network of eight radio telescopes spanning locations in various continents, from Antarctica to Europe and South America, called the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) has captured the first image of a black hole ever. In a project that involved more than 200 scientists, the latest achievement of the team marks a milestone in the study of the enigma that black holes are. Einstein’s general relativity first laid the theoretical groundwork for predicting the existence of black

FOCUS: The Earth as a Natural LIving Laboratory

BlueSci presents three perspectives on how scientists have expanded our understanding of science using the greatest laboratory of all – planet Earth. We begin with a piece by Bryony Yates, on using Earth’s biosphere in the study of life. HUMANS HAVE LONG been fascinated with the natural world, as pre-historic paintings of plants and animals so beautifully illustrate. We can trace formal scientific study back to Ancient Greek philosophers, with

Review: The Violinist’s Thumb

“Every word and sentence contribute to the engaging narrative – the book is just impossible to put down!” Sam Kean matches his bestselling predecessor – “The Disappearing Spoon” in the vibrancy of storytelling and may even supersede it. The book proves once again that Sam Kean can explain difficult concepts in a simple but not simplistic way, and to make science entertaining for any audience. Exploring the wonders of DNA, this book answers perplexing questions on heredity and

Sulawesi: A Seismological Mystery

The Sulawesi earthquake should not have produced tsunamis, but it did. Ben Johnson speaks to Professor James Jackson about how it happened, and how we could prepare for future incidents On 28th September 2018 at around 3pm local time, the residents of the city of Palu, Indonesia felt an earthquake of magnitude 6.1. Damage to several buildings was sustained, ten people were injured, and at least one person was killed. Three hours later, an earthquake

Review: To Be a Machine

“Akin to a traveller’s diary, this book describes unbelievable technologies of tomorrow, such as mind uploading, cryonics, artificial superintelligence and device implantation” Visiting laboratories and conferences, bunkers and basements, O’Connell meets foremost scientists, programmers, philanthropists and entrepreneurs, who are ahead of their time and have dedicated their lives to transforming humanity with technological enhancement. Akin to a traveller’s diary, this book describes unbelievable technologies of tomorrow, such as mind uploading, cryonics, artificial superintelligence and device implantation. It also unearths ethical conundrums that

A Bohmian Rhapsody

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

Review: Chemistry

“Under various pressures the American-Chinese narrator quits her chemistry PhD and struggles with her long-term relationship…” There is more to scientific research than the work itself. Weike Wang’s novel, Chemistry, raises questions about the tenants of science that ignore personal lives. Under various pressures the American-Chinese narrator quits her chemistry PhD and struggles with her long-term relationship. Charting her coming to terms with these losses, the story is both upbeat and cautionary. The scientific setting is not overdone; it could

A Digital (R)Evolution

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