Archive for June, 2011

Ladybird Decline

Posted on June 26th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Ladybird Decline

Seven-spot Ladybird (´╗┐Coccinella septempunctata) One of the most distinctive and, arguably, the most popular insects in the UK, the ladybird has captured the imaginations of many a young child. However, the future of our bespeckled friend is not as bright as her iconic red coat. Many native species of ladybirds are in decline thanks, in part, due to the action of a rival species – Harmonia axyridis – the Harlequin ladybird. The word harlequin originates in old European folk tales; buffonish comic figures dressed in multicoloured clothes. Unfortunately, there is nothing funny about the eponymous ladybird. Once confined to the…

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Carbon dioxide could fight global warming

Posted on June 21st 2011 in Features with 2 comments

It was on a cool, clear autumn day in northern Minnesota when two scientists, driving towards a fieldwork station, stopped for gas. It was at this petrol station that Martin Saar and Jimmy Randolph had a flash of inspiration that could one day help in the fight against climate change. Road journeys in America are notoriously long, allowing for many long discussions. On this particular trip, the men had only two things on their mind. Firstly, the work they had been commissioned to do by Minnesota Geological Survey on the potential for storing carbon dioxide in the local area. And…

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Drug smuggling cells evade detection

Posted on June 17th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Drug smuggling cells evade detection

Us humans are always looking for the easy way out. If we can get someone else to do our dirty work for us, so much the better, which is why drug dealers rely on mules to ship merchandise for them. One of the trickiest things to do in medical science is smuggling drugs or nanoprobes into the body to the specific area they are required. Many of these probes and drugs are considered foreign objects to the body, and as such will be removed by the body’s equivilent of a customs officer – the white blood cells. Many treatments are…

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Beardy wierdy

Posted on June 14th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Beardy wierdy

Beardedness is not a word I would have ever expected to find in a scientific journal. However, it has sprouted up everywhere in one particular article published in the journal Psychological Reports. Beardedness – the condition of having a beard – apparently serves as a signal fora great number of qualities. From the first downy tufts that appear on awkward, pubescent boys to the magnificent monument of hair that graces Brian Blessed’s glorious face, the beard is one of the definitive markers of manhood. As puberty starts, testosterone levels in the blood spike causing hundred of hair follicles in the…

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Bloomin marvellous

Posted on June 10th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Bloomin marvellous

An unusually snowy winter, and weeks of heavy rainfall in south east USA has resulted in the Mississippi River flooding to record levels. As a response, US engineers have released the rising waters onto the floodplains surrounding the river, in order to save the heavily populated regions further downstream. The economic costs of such an action are huge – some reports put the cost at $295 million a day. Ecologically, there is more bad news. River water naturally contains large amounts of sediments that have eroded as the river travels downstream. This sediment is incredibly rich in nutrients, and as…

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