research

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

Live bacteria pills, a possibility

Pills containing live bacteria on the horizon Taking a pill full of live bacteria does not sound like a medicine that your doctor would, or could, prescribe – but it might soon be. In the last decade, gut microbiome research has drawn a lot of attention and funding, but it was not clear whether any therapies would come out of it any time soon. Synlogic, Inc in Cambridge, MA developed a live bacterial therapy to treat phenylketonuria,

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Scientists work together to create more effective medicines Advances continue to progress personalised medicine, a field in which drugs are tailored to patients’ needs based on their genetic information. Historically, simply screening patients’ genomes enabled this trend but more recently, synthetic nucleotide-based medicines have taken this a step further. Nucleotide-based medicines use artificial DNA and RNA (nucleotides) to target cellular genetic information directly, shutting off genetic diseases at their source.

Time Flies

Philip Myers tells us how scientists unravelled the secrets of time telling using the humble vinegar fly You cannot win a Nobel Prize if you are dead. Last year, the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine was awarded for the ‘elucidation of the molecular mechanisms controlling circadian rhythms’, and the living received the credit. But some missed out – some who had passed away, who had been central to the

Breaking up at Sea:
 The Great Collapse of an Ice Shelf

Dr Alison Banwell tells Silas Yeem Kai Ean and Seán Thór Herron how ice shelves break up In 2002, the Larsen B ice shelf disintegrated into the Antarctic ocean in a mere span of two weeks. A floating mass of ice about the size of Cambridgeshire simply disappeared into the sea. This spectacular event not only inspired the lyrics to a British Sea Power song and sparked mass panic amongst

Stick Spiders from Different Hawaiian Islands Evolve in Parallel

Esther Pilla reports on a discovery in evolution It is very rare for scientists to catch examples of parallel, convergent evolution, but earlier in March Professor Rosemary G. Gillespie and her colleagues from the University of California, Berkeley, published
a study that highlighted parallel evolution in Hawaiian stick spiders. The group analysed a genus of spider, Ariamnes, whose ancestor probably first arrived on the oldest Hawaiian islands and later spread to

Liquid-liquid Phase Transition Observed for the First Time

Esther Pilla reports on the state of water research On Earth, water can exist as solid, liquid and
 gas. These phase transitions are important because they occur within a range of temperatures compatible with human life (or, in the case of boiling water, temperatures that allow cooking). This March, a team from Arizona State University and the University of Amsterdam demonstrated for the first time that water can transition from