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This category contains 239 posts

How the Earth Got its Shape

Measure of the Earth by Larrie Ferreiro tells how an early eighteenth century band of European explorer set out to measure a degree of latitude at the equator in South America using the very latest astronomical and surveying equipment in order to settle a scientific dispute. Descartes said that the Earth was egg-shaped, whilst Isaac […]

“Lab in a Chip” diagnoses HIV and TB

An international team of researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, Dublin City University in Ireland and Universidad de Valparaíso Chile, has developed a self-powered chip that is able to process whole blood samples without the use of external tubing and extra components and can diagnose HIV and TV in minutes. Read more on the […]

Compulsory Fun at Work

Once, on the worst production I have ever worked on, the series producer spent an inordinate amount of energy organizing team drinks so that we could all have “fun”, whilst we struggled to get the actual work done. And there was no way of getting out of it: if you couldn’t make it, she merely […]

Crowdsourced Murder Hunt

The FBI were stumped for ideas after finding the body of a man in field in Missouri in 1999. The only clue to his death was contained in two notes found in the pocket of his trousers. Trouble was the notes were written in code. Baffled the police released the notes and asked people to […]

Feel No Fear

A rare genetic genetic disorder called Urbach-Wiethe disease destroys the brain’s amydala, and produces people who feel no fear in dangerous situations. One woman studied by scientists had felt no fear in everyday situations, for instance when public speaking, nor in more dangerous ones such as being threatened with a gun.  Scientists did everything they […]

Crowdsourced Cancer Treatments

You’ve heard of Creative Commons; here’s Cancer Commons. Modern medicine believes that cancer isn’t one disease, but “hundreds or thousands of rare diseases”, which makes it nigh on impossible for a physician to prescribe exactly the right treatment for each patient. And traditional drug therapies are tested on randomized heterogeneous study groups, which means they […]

Ancient Aboriginal Astronomers

Archaeologists have fond a type of stone circle 80km outside Melbourne that is aligned to a summer sunset and is dated to greater than 10,000 years, which is much earlier than Stonehenge or the Pyramids. It suggests that Aborigines were studying the stars much earlier than previously known. Read more on PSFK.  

Sniffer Mice

Next time you see a mouse run through the airport cafe, don’t be alarmed – it’s probably just on its lunch break. Mice are being trained to sniff out drugs and explosives on passengers and cargo. The mice are put in a box close to where passengers walk. If they smell a banned substance they […]

Think Smarter: Daydream

An article in Scientific American explores the relationship between daydreaming (or the brain at rest) and IQ, and asks whether one is most “like oneself” when concentrating on something or when the mind is wandering. It also suggest that autism might be linked to reduced neural connectivity, whilst schizophrenia can be linked to an excessive […]

Internet Wishlist

The Internet Wishlist, is a repository for your wishes for all those apps you could really do with, but don’t yet exist (as far as you know). The current list includes: “I wish there was a website where non-profits could ask for what they need and people could work for them from home.” “I’d like […]

Talent: Past Preservers

Are you looking for talent? Someone with a passion for history and archaeology? Past Preservers was founded by archaeologist Nigel J. Hetherington to provide historical and archaeological consultancy and professional support to the media industry, and their website has a (small) number of showreels of potential hosts partaking in derring-do. Rich Blundell from Past Preservers […]

Martian Summer

Martian Summer: Robot Arms, Cowboy Spacemen, and My 90 Days with the Phoenix Mission by Andrew Kessler is his offbeat, warts-and-all account of the summer he spent inside NASA as they prepared for a mission to Mars, after he secured unprecedented access to 130 of the world’s best scientists. The book is published on 15 […]

Stress ‘Rewires’ Cells

A team of scientists in the United States, South Korea, and Switzerland has uncovered a vast, complex network of 160,000 genetic interactions within yeast cells that changes dramatically when the cells are subjected to stress. The “rewiring” of this genetic network is much more extensive than scientists previously thought. About 70 percent of the genetic […]

Hand Held Eye

Munivo is an ergonomic sensor, designed to fit in a blind-person’s palm, that can help alert them to obstacles by the use of small balls that move on two axes to tell them which way to walk. Read more on Behance.

Fantastic Factology for the London 2012 Olympics

Fantastic Factology has been gathering facts from the public about “surprising things in life” – the best will be engraved onto plaques sited on benches around the 2012 London Olympic site, which will (hopefully) be visited by “generations of future visitors”.  You can see some of the facts on the Fantastic Factology website. It seems […]

Head Cam Horror

Artist Wafaa Bilal is undertaking a year-long project which involves taking a photograph every minute. That may sound like it requires an extreme amount of commitment, but he’s taken it a step further by having a camera inserted into the back of his head (in a body piercing studio). Unfortunately, and perhaps unsurprisingly, his body […]

How to Win a Scratchcard Lottery

Wired tells the story of Mohan Srivastava, a geological statistician living in Toronto who worked out how to spot which lottery scratch cards were winning cards. But when he reported his findings to lottery organizers he found it difficult to get them to take him seriously – until he sent them a batch of unscratched […]

Google Body

Move over Grey’s Anatomy – Google Body has arrived. Those clever Google people have created an online anatomical model (cleverly only available in certain browsers, including surprise, surprise, Google Chrome) that you can interact with to peel back the layers of skin and flesh to reveal and explore bones, muscles and nerves. Try it here. […]

Need Surgery? Invent Your Own Implant

Tal Golesworthy decided that he didn’t want to undergo surgery for a serious heart defect that would mean taking blood-thinning drugs for the rest of his life. Instead he drew on his engineering experience to use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computer-aided design (CAD) to come up with a new type of implant that would […]

Bomb Detecting Plants

Professor June Medford, a biologist at Colorado State University is engineering plants to detect and react to traces of explosives in the environment – such as an airport or security sensitive building –  by turning white. She’s in discussions with U.S. Homeland Security about using her genetically modified  plants which can be grown from seeds; […]

NGO’s ‘Fess Up to Failure

Engineers Without Borders Canada have done what many NGOs have failed to do and that is admit that help given to developing countries isn’t always helpful. In some cases a solution to a perceived problem just brings more problems. But no-one will admit it in case people stop donating their money to charity to help […]

JoVE: Journal of Visualized Experiments

Looking for a scientist who could front your documentary or consult on your programme? Check out JoVE which is an archive of experiments captured on video by the scientists in order to share their work and findings with fellow scientists. The production values lack a little something and the titles of the experiments might be […]

Mad(-ish) Entrepreneurs

You don’t have to be mad to be an entrepreneur, but it sure helps, suggests an article in the New York Times. The qualities exhibited by risk taking businessmen – optimism, drive and big ideas – are also typical symptoms of someone in the grip of a hypomanic episode; but the key difference is that […]

How the Chicken Came Before the Egg

Scientists from universities in Warwick and Sheffield used a supercomputer to examine how an egg forms and discovered it needs a protein that exists only in the ovaries of a chicken. That protein changes calcium carbonate into calcite crystals, which form egg shell. Therefore, they say, the chicken must have come before the egg. Read […]

The Lies People Tell in Search of a Mate

There are some common things that can mislead you if you are using an online dating site to look for love: People say they are 2″ taller than they are The more attractive the picture, the more out of date it is likely to be People are earning 20% less than they claim 80% of […]

A Building of Books

The UK government, currently trying to cut costs in public funding could kill two birds with one stone: close all the libraries and use their books to build social housing: take a look at this building made of books on PSFK.

Sewage Powered Car

A VW Beetle has been adapted to run on methane generated during the sewage treatment process. The Bio Bug, as the car is known, runs just as well as a more traditionally fuelled car. But it’s not an entirely new innovation; in Sweden 11,500 vehicles have been adapted to run on biomethane from sewage plants. […]

Ten 007 Gadgets to Buy

Just in time for Christmas here are some ideas of James Bond gadgets that can be bought for your loved one. How about a Jetpack, a shark gun, or X-ray glasses? Batteries probably not supplied, to ensure maximum Christmas day frustration. Head over to Business Insider to see the full range.

How Big is It Really?

How Big Really offers useful visualizations of places, events and other important things, based on a map of your current location. For example, you can see how far the Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch would stretch if centered on your neighbourhood (far) or the area covered by Chernobyl radiation (farther). Try it for yourself here.

Scrubs Magazine

Take a peek behind the scenes of life as an Emergency Room worker in this online magazine aimed at ER nurses. Scrubs “The Nurse’s Guide to Good Living” is more of a niche lifestyle mag than a clinical journal, with tips on How NOT to Gain Weight As A Nursing Student, 4 Fun Facts About […]

How to Work in a Mortuary

Down Among the Dead Men by Michelle Williams tells the story of a year in the life of a mortuary technician; doing a job many people would rather die than do. It’s full of detail  of what happens between unexpected and hitherto unexplained death, and disposal of the body. Just as fascinating are the stories […]

Four Stages of Eureka!

Sudden Genius by Andrew Robinson explores Henri Poincaré’s four-stage model of sudden Eureka moments in creativity: conscious thought incubation illumination verification Robinson goes on to dismiss this theory, but the good folks at New Scientist believe it’s still the best model we’ve got.

Why Things Don’t Work

Marketing guru Seth Godin explains why things don’t work – such as lines for taxis outside airports – in this TED Talk. He also outlines several types of broken, including “it’s not my job syndrome”. Seth Godin at Gel 2006 from Gel Conference on Vimeo.

How to Predict a Malaria Outbreak

Scienitists at The Kenya Medical Research Institute have developed a prediction tool that uses knowledge about mosquito breeding habits and weather patterns to predict outbreaks of malaria. Authorities will have warning of an outbreak three months in advance, allowing them to mobilize resources to the areas that will be affected in advance. The tool can […]

Patterns for Life

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction is a classic design text written in 1977 bby Christopher Alexander. It ambitiously catalogues, with photos and illustrations, everything in the build environment – from parks to tower blocks to bedrooms – and explains how good design enhances life and community. High-rise apartments and uniform ceilings: bad. East facing […]

No Shame

Christine Rosen notes that people seem to have no problem undergoing beauty treatments – like teeth whitening or eyebrow (or ladies’ mustache) threading – in public places, such as in the middle of shopping malls and wonders if we have lost the capacity to be embarrassed. It’s safe to assume she’s yet to be acquainted […]


When Shannon and Paul Morell finally had two daughters after undergoing the misery of IVF, they were overjoyed. The also looked forward to having a litttle brother or sister for the girls using the six remaining frozen embryos… until the fertility clinic called to say the embryos had been implanted in another woman. Misconception: One […]

Gaming for Health Rewards

Bayer has introduced a new blood glucose monitor plugs into a Nintendo DS and allows diabetic kids to play games and win points as they keep up to date with their blood glucose testing. The Didget meter helps kids manage a lifelong disease by rewarding them for building consistent testing habits and meeting personalized blood […]

Adventures in Sex City

Adventures in Sex City is an online game from The Middlesex-London Health Unit. It features the dastardly Sperminator who is trying to infect everyone with sexually transmitted infections (and fires quiz questions from his penis-shaped hands. I kid you not), and The Sex Squad: Willy the Kid (small but has “massive rock hard strength); Power […]

Synthetic Biology

Scientists are working on modifying cells in order that they might “turn specialized molecules into tiny, self-contained factories, creating cheap drugs, clean fuels, and new organisms to siphon carbon dioxide from the atmosphere”.  One of the motivations is that synthetic “drugs factories” would by-pass natural sources of drugs i.e. plants which are vulnerable to environmental […]

Being Dirty Makes You Clever. Maybe.

According to research presented at the 110th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, exposure to Mycobacterium vaccae in the environment could increase learning behaviour. Previous research studies on M. vaccae showed that heat-killed bacteria injected into mice stimulated growth of some neurons in the brain that resulted in increased levels of serotonin and […]

Ocean Photography

National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry takes photographs of ocean life, in his own words: “both the horror and the magic of the ocean”. In this TED talk he explains why humans must be good custodians of the oceans. Watch the video:

Will You Live to be 100?

Newsweek explores whether science can tell us whether living to a grand old age is in our genes by looking at a study that examines the genes of 1,000 people over 100 years of age.

Google Tackles Parkinson’s Disease

Sergey Brin, Google’s 36-yr-old president of Technology, carries a genetic mutation that puts him at increased risk of Parkinson’s disease, but he’s not sitting back to see what happens – he wants to reduce his risk of ever getting the disease and he hopes to harness the power of computing to do it. According to […]

Scientific Anatomy of a Twinkie

Photographer Dwight Eschliman has photographed the 37 ingredients – including whole egg, animal shortening and diglyceride – that make up America’s favourite ‘snack cake’ the Twinkie. Brought up by a health food obsessive mom, Eschliman fell off the wholefood wagon as a student but has returned to the ethos that, in the case of good […]

Another Reason to Stay Out All Night

Depressed? Try sleep deprivation. The scientific literature  – 75+ papers over the last 40 years – suggests that people with depression (particularly post partum related) can lift their mood simply by staying awake for half the night. Even if you are not depressed, sleep deprivation – as anyone who has been to Glastonbury Festival will […]

Pigeon Blog

PigeonBlog is a charmingly method of charting air pollution. Researchers tagged city-dwelling homing pigeons with GPS enabled air pollution sensors to send pollution information to an online map where they tracked a bird’s flight and showed pollution data on a graph.

Criminology Books

Sage is publishing a new series of books on criminology, including Crime and Terrorism, which explores “the often murky interface between organised crime and terrorism” and Crime and Risk that looks at the influence of the excitement of risk-taking on criminal behaviour and how the harm can be reduced rather than risk-taking behaviours controlled. Visit […]

Secret Scientific Live of Trees…and Prisons

Nalini Nadkarni is the founder of the Big Canopy Database that documents her research in the canopies of jungles in Costa Rica, the Amazon and Papua New Guinea. She also works with violent men in high security prisons, giving them science lessons and giving them images of nature to help inmates become calmer and less […]

Bacterial Wardrobe

Suzanne Lee is a senior research fellow at Central Saint Martins School of Fashion & Textiles. She’s invented a way growing clothes from a brew of sweet green tea, yeast and bacteria, an experiment she blogs about on BioCouture (subtitled: How to Grow a Frock).  Read more on Ecouterre, where you can also see some […]