Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Grasping for attention

Posted on April 27th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Grasping for attention

Collectors come in all shapes and sizes. Some are relatively tame, such as the humble stamp collectors and comic book hunters. Others are harder to understand. For example, Michael Lewis has a handsome collection of Moist Towelettes. Sergei Frolov has over 150 Soviet Calculators. Most bizarrely though, for 27 years Graham Barker has been scouring the globe for only the finest examples of belly button fluff. Why do these people waste so much of their time and money (and sanity) on amassing large numbers of similar items. Many ideas have been suggested over the years. Some have said its purely…

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The unseen threat of nitrogen

Posted on April 16th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on The unseen threat of nitrogen

Nitrogen is one of those elements that never really gets much attention. It’s colourless, odourless and mostly inert. For the most part, it’s a bit of a loner as well, only bonding with itself in the form of N2. Unfortunately, it’s the quiet ones that can prove to me the most dangerous, as an international report published this month confirms. The report – published at the Nitrogen and Global Change conference – shows that nitrogen pollution is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity in Europe. Nitrogen concentrations have increased dramatically over the years, from agriculture in the form of…

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The beautiful

Posted on April 14th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on The beautiful

I know many of us are revising frantically at the moment, spending every waking moment trying to cram as much knowledge into our delicate little brains as we can. Either that or feeling guilty for not doing as much as we should. It can feel like our lives have been dominated by the need to ingest as much science as possible, for fear of not making through the famine of exam season that is nearly upon us. However, when you over-indulge, with anything, the pleasure you once got is replaced inevitably by apathy and disgust. This youtube video, by the…

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A bug’s life is better with company

Posted on April 12th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on A bug’s life is better with company

Parasites are amazing. By taking advantage of the efforts of another species, parasites have been able to flourish in countless strange ways. For example, there is one parasite that lives only on the lips of lobsters (Symbion americanus). The fungal parasite, Ophiocordyceps unilateralis infects the brains of ants, causing them to climb high into the forest canopy, bite into a leaf and die. The fungus is then able to burst out of the ant’s head (much like something out of Alien) and rain down spores onto the forest floor. Rabies, is caused by a virus, that makes dogs more aggressive….

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Batting away pesticide use

Posted on April 11th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Batting away pesticide use

Agriculture is a costly business. You need seeds to plant, fertilizer to make it grow and machinery to harvest. Unfortunately, we grow most of this food in big, exposed landscapes providing a delicious buffet for billions of insects. It is no surprise, therefore, that pesticide is one of the biggest expenses for British farmers (£720 million in 2009, DEFRA) This number, however, does not reflect the true amount of pest control that is being carried out in fields around the world. As well as being killed by human action, insects are eaten by a wide variety of species. In doing so,…

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Down in the dumps

Posted on March 21st 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Down in the dumps

If you men out there have just broken up with your girlfriend, you will probably hear the platitude “time is the greatest healer”. Given enough time you will be able to forget that old flame and move on to someone better. Science has, unfortunately, shown this to be nothing but empty words. According to the Journal of Evolutionary Psychology [pdf], women viewed men who had been rejected by their previous partner as significantly less desirable for long term relationships. Men who dumped their old lady were actually seen as better partners. Conversely, men found women less attractive if they found…

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She’s quite a dish

Posted on March 18th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on She’s quite a dish

I love it when science demonstrates something that is bloomin’ obvious to the rest of us. In the journal of Evolutionary Psychology, researchers have published a study showing that men are significantly more likely to pay for a meal when their female companion was attractive. The scientists showed pictures of women to 245 men, and asked them who would you prefer to pay for a hypothetical meal you were sharing? They also did the reverse, showing pictures of attractive and unattractive men to a number of women. Firstly, the most common response from both sexes was to share the bill….

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I, Robot, am disgusted

Posted on March 14th 2011 in Blog with 1 comment

Being touched by a sexy nurse is one of the most common fantasies (not admitting anything personally here) – but how would you feel if your object of affection was a robot? Researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology found that volunteers were happy to be touched by a robot nurse, if under the impression they were cleaning a wound. If they were told the robot was there to provide comfort, participants were less than positive about the experience. Humans are very strange creatures, we have the habit of anthropomorphising – of seeing a concious will behind the most inanimate of…

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Nurturing nature

Posted on March 12th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Nurturing nature

Animal behaviour is a subject that has always fascinated me. At first glance, the actions of animals seems so familiar, obvious to the point of not being noteworthy. They eat when they are hungry, they run when danger is present, and they get down to it when, you know, they want to. What I find really interesting is the debate that so often crops up as to whether these behaviours are instinctual, built into the genetic makeup of the animal, or learnt through experience and upbringing. In other words, is it nature or nurture? I’d like to answer by saying…

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Deep voices and shallow personalities

Posted on March 5th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Deep voices and shallow personalities

Why is it that Barry White is seen as a quivering mass of concentrated sexiness, yet poor Joe Pasquale is resigned to the shallow end of the genetic swimming pool? Well, new research, published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, has shown that men with deep and manly voices are more likely to be judged as more sexually attractive. The voices of 49 males were digitally altered to create masculine and feminine versions, which were then rated by female volunteers. Much more interestingly, however, the study also found that women viewed those sexy deep voices as more likely to belong to…

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