Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Flight of Inspiration

Posted on July 2nd 2012 in Blog with Comments Off on Flight of Inspiration

In a time of rising national debts and cuts in welfare spending, a lot of people believe that continued investment in space exploration is a waste of money. In 2011, NASA received about $18 billion. Although this sounds like a great deal of money, it is only 0.48% of the federal budget, and this number is likely to go down in future years. But there are many reasons why investment in space is a good idea. Firstly, it generates huge amounts of wealth. Thousands of satellites now pepper the night sky, providing everything from GPS to television. Millions of people around the…

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A new superhero is born – Squidman

Posted on November 28th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on A new superhero is born – Squidman

Not many animals could legitimately claim to have a super power. But two little sea creatures, living deep in the dark blue ocean, have an ability many of us have fantasised about possessing – they can turn invisible at will. The heroes of this story are two cephalopods – an octopus called Japetella heathi and a cuttlefish called Onychoteuthis banksii – henceforth known as the supersquid. You can see their near-magical talents in the video below: Why should the supersquid need such an awesome power? Sarah Zylinski from Duke University, North Carolina tested the two squid in conditions replicating their…

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Dumbstruck by the thought of her

Posted on November 27th 2011 in Blog with 6 comments

My brow begins to sweat. Nervous twitches creep down my back and along my arms. I begin to squirm uncontrollably. My tongue, once capable of creating eloquent and loquacious conversation, now lolls sluggishly in my mouth, arousing only to produce the most embarrassing of squawks . And my brain – supposedly the most complex machine ever to appear in the universe – my brain goes completely numb. Why? Because a pretty girl has just walked by, and I am a man. (Technically.) While men mostly grow out of this awkward pubescent way of interacting with women – able to charm…

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Faking it – the science of pretend orgasms

Posted on November 26th 2011 in Blog with 2 comments

One of the greatest insecurities many men have is that their lady might not be as pleased in the bedroom as she actually seems. In essence – she might be faking it. It is the women, however, who are the insecure ones , as new research shows faked orgasms are much more likely to occur when the women is afraid her partner might leave her. Over 50% of women report having faked an orgasm at least once in their life, usually to satisfy their partner. Why should a pretend orgasm be pleasing for the man? The current belief about the…

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Ascent of a guru

Posted on November 14th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Ascent of a guru

 As a communicator of science, I have tried to evangelise the ‘good news’ of science whereever I could. That’s why I was pleased to hear of a new online science magazine called Guru,  “a regular magazine that mixes the entertainment of lifestyle writing with the authoritativeness of a science periodical.”  I have written for them a number of times now, and am pleased to announce I have been elevated to the status of ‘Evolution Guru’. You can now expect regular articles from me, all naturally selected to have interesting insights into the world of evolution.  A short (embarrasing) interview with me is now on…

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Robot spider terrorises office floor

Posted on November 7th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Robot spider terrorises office floor

  Yes, I know its only got 4 legs, but you can’t say it doesn’t look a little bit spidery. Built by scientists from the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology, this quadruped robot scans and analyses its immediate surroundings. Like a daredevil rockclimber, each surface is scrutinised for the potential to be the next foot or handhold. While one wrong move could mean certain death for a climber 1000ft up, the robot’s actions are a little less hardcore. In the video above, you can see it traversing a not-so-dangerous world full of stacks of paper. By tilting its body, and reaching…

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Silk stockings get lady spiders in the mood

Posted on November 4th 2011 in Blog with 2 comments

  Animal behaviours can sometimes jump out at you by their similarity to the kinds of things humans do. Most recently, I came across this video of golden orb-web spiders. Dominating the picture is a large speckled black and white female, confidently waiting for her next unsuspecting meal to arrive. What might not be so obvious is the weedy orange male, running scurrilously on her back. Not exactly a very human-like behaviour, I hear you say. Well, I answer back, you don’t know what he’s doing there. What he is doing, is wrapping her body in the finest silks his…

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Bird Brainiacs

Posted on September 1st 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Bird Brainiacs

Pigeons are smarter than most mathematicians. Well, they are if you look at one specific mathematical conundrum called the Monty Hall Problem. The name  comes from the host of an American quiz show, who, at the end of each show, offered a contestant the chance to win a prize. The prize (a new car) was hidden behind one of three doors; behind the other doors lay goats. The contestant first picked one of the doors. Monty, would then proceed to open one of the remaining doors revealing a goat. The contestant then gets the chance to either keep the door they’ve…

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Too much of a good thing

Posted on August 25th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Too much of a good thing

Just a little fact for you that I learnt today. Drinking absolutely pure water can kill you. All the water we normally drink – from taps, from bottles, from the garden hose – contains impurities which affect a property of water called tonicity. This is the ability of a solution to draw or repel water from ajacent solutions when separated by a membrane. Solutions that are hypertonic gain water, while hypotonic solutions lose water. Drinking water, which we usually think of as pure, really contains a whole mess of salts and sugars which make it slightly hypertonic. They also give water its…

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Harmony in motion

Posted on August 17th 2011 in Blog with 1 comment

Sound, as you probably know, is the result of pressure waves travelling through the air. As the pressure wave enters your ear, it causes the tympanic membrane to vibrate. This, simultaneously, causes your inner ear bones to dance around like a teenager at a rock concert. In turn, this moshing vibrates tiny hairs in your cochlea, creating electrical signals which pass to the brain. This convoluted, dancing procession of movement allows you to hear. The sounds that cause this complicated conga line are, unfortunately, invisible. The beautiful sequence of high and low pressure movements of air molecules that emanates from…

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