Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

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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Monitoring your sleep patterns

Posted on June 6th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Monitoring your sleep patterns

It’s 3am. The cold light of my computer screen illuminates my face, highlighting the bags that are forming under my eyes and casting disturbing shadows around my bedroom. You might think that I was engaged in something incredibly important to keep me up so late. But no, the truth is, I am unable to sleep and resign myself to touring the bizarre offerings the internet presents only early in the morning. On this particular instance of insomniac procrastination, however, the answer to why I am unable to sleep randomly appears on my monitor. I blink and rub my eyes a…

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Baby Boomers

Posted on June 1st 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Baby Boomers

Anyone who has ever taken a long plane journey knows just how annoying babies can be. In the cramped, stuffy environment of a plane cabin sometimes the only relief you can find is in sleep. You may, miraculously, find yourself drifting off, only to be rudely brought back to Earth by the sound of a baby screaming its lungs out and the feeling of your ears splitting.The noise, it feels, seems perfectly designed to annoy. Once the baby starts, you know that the rest of your journey is going to be spent in agonising conciousness. Why is it, though, that a baby’s cry is almost…

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Titanic Antics

Posted on May 21st 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Titanic Antics

Last year, I had the good fortune of going on a white water rafting trip. Shivering uncontrollably from the combination of the cold and the dangerousness, it was, all things considered, an amazing adventure. One factor, which at the time, I was very grateful for was the raft – a study construction of rubber and glass fibre. Without it, well, I would just look stupid.  It turns out, however, that not everybody needs a raft to go rafting. Ants, in their near-infinite behavioural plasticity, have evolved a way of escaping floods by constructing a raft from their own bodies. Although…

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Surveillance society

Posted on May 7th 2011 in Blog with Comments Off on Surveillance society

Ever found yourself doing something that you know you probably shouldn’t be doing? And, when you’re doing said unscrupulous act, are you constantly wary of anyone who might discover and judge you? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. It turns out this fear of being caught is part of our evolved psychology. Acts of moral dubiousness are seen as being far worse when in the presence of another – as a study published this week has shown. To test this idea, the authors of the paper wrote two stories of malfeasance – one involving taking money from a missing wallet,…

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