If one accidentally wandered into the Large Hadron Collider while particles were being hurled around at unimaginable speeds, would they pass through the human body without trace, or would they render one what a layman might describe as “toast”?
Mark Lloyd, London WC1Continue reading...
Mars has captured the popular imagination for hundred of years. But hang on – didn’t Nasa discover evidence of water on the red planet a while ago? So what’s different this time around? And even if we did discover signs of life, space agencies are forbidden from contaminating alien ecosystems, so could we even check it out? Ian Sample explainsContinue reading...
The Mauritian government is offering tax breaks for scientists who move against the brain drain. Policies like this are vital says President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim
Africa will continue to be held back if we do not immediately invest in research and development. African governments who have not met the 1% target pledged at the African Union heads of state summit in 2006 should increase their spending on research.
Pledges have been made, but in most cases they haven’t been translated into concrete actions. This is partly because African governments struggle with conflicting priorities such as preventing disease outbreaks and providing education and proper sanitation.
Ethical approval given for operations as part of local clinical trial following procedure’s success in Sweden
The UK’s first womb transplant is set to take place next year as part of a clinical trial in which 10 women will get the chance to carry their own babies.
Following the birth of a baby boy last year after a successful procedure in Sweden, the Health Research Authority has granted ethical approval for 10 transplants. The first British baby born from a transplanted womb could arrive as soon as late 2017 or 2018.Continue reading...
Hummingbird eggs and babies are a favourite snack for nest-robbing jays, so what’s a mother to do to protect her family? According to a new study, it’s best to build her nest near or under a hawk nest
Tiny hummingbird eggs and babies are a favourite snack for nest-robbing jays, so what’s a mother hummingbird to do to protect her family? According to a study published recently in the journal, Science Advances, the hummingbird cleverly builds her nest near or under a hawk nest. The reason for this seemingly risky behaviour? When hawks are nesting nearby, jays forage higher above the ground to avoid being attacked from above by the hungry hawk parents. This elevation in the jays’ foraging height creates a cone-shaped jay-free safe area under the hawk nests where mother hummingbirds, their babies and nests, enjoy dramatically increased survival rates.Continue reading...
Nasa helped make The Martian. But it also advised on Men in Black III. So what exactly is its relationship with movies? And can the truth survive blockbuster blast-off? The agency’s director of planetary science reveals all
A rumour started a few years ago that Nasa routinely screened Armageddon to new recruits. Not because the asteroid-smashing Michael Bay epic was in any way edifying, but for the exact opposite reason: Armageddon got so much wrong that it was a showreel for how space doesn’t work. According to one estimate, the movie contains 168 scientific impossibilities and inaccuracies, which Nasa challenged its recruits to spot; they include space shuttles taking off like planes from asteroids, gravity working the wrong way on space stations and the fanciful notion that a nuclear blast could deflect an asteroid the size of Texas – they’d need a bomb a billion times bigger, physicists calculated.Continue reading...
Curiosity rover already on red planet cannot study streaks left by flowing water because it could be carrying bugs from Earth
Nasa scientists may still be celebrating their discovery of liquid water on Mars, but they now face some serious questions about how they can investigate further and look for signs of life on the red planet.
The problem is how to find life without contaminating the planet with bugs from Earth.Continue reading...
With the opening of a major new exhibition on mummified animals from ancient Egypt, curator Lidija McKnight celebrates the discovery of a crocodile with eight heads
Species: Crocodylus niloticus
Dates: ~30 BC
Claim to fame: Contains the remains of eight crocs
Where now: Manchester Museum, the University of Manchester
I am in the radiology department at The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. The patient lies motionless on the table. It is dead. It is an Egyptian mummy. It is not human. It is shaped like a crocodile.Continue reading...
Your report (Last British resident in Guantánamo to be freed after 13 years held without charge, 26 September) is welcome news. However, Shaker Aamer’s nightmare years of abuse and torture will be over only when he is safely home. This is the first time the Pentagon has announced a detainee transfer prior to a 30-day period for approval by US Congress. The UK government should demand his immediate return. He has suffered enough.
Worthing, West Sussex
• I have no idea about the accuracy of your article on Marxism Today (The long read, 29 September) except for the brief remark about Martin Jacques’s book on China. It has been comprehensively discredited by every China specialist known to me.
Nasa astronaut Tracy Dyson coached actress Jessica Chastain for her role in The Martian, and no question was too silly – do astronauts wear their wedding rings in space?Continue reading...
When ancient explorers set off from home they would follow the water, along rivers and coastlines, from lake to lake. There was little else they could do; for water is unique. The simple combination of hydrogen and oxygen is crucial for life as we know it. Without liquid water, cells fail, and so do those functions that define us.
The US space agency put the same intuition at the heart of its exploration of Mars. On our home planet, where there is water, life is never far away. And it is this that makes Nasa’s latest discovery so exciting: that water may flow on Mars today, at least in the warmer months of summer. It is very likely that there is life on the red planet, said one of the scientists on the team.Continue reading...
The gestures of the US and Russian presidents told stories that clashed as much as their words, a body-language expert explains in an analysis of their behavior
The United Nations general assembly gives us a rare chance to see world leaders speak from the same podium – and sometimes interact with one another, too.
Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin and Raúl Castro have all spoken from the stage this week – and the US president has publicly shaken hands with his Russian and Cuban counterparts. But what does their body language tell us about them?Continue reading...
Two things are infinite, suggested Einstein: the universe and mankind’s stupidity. Should we survive as a species, we will surely look back with horror on how we sanctioned the abandonment of children in boarding schools. We may wish we had outlawed publicity stunts such as an article in the Telegraph this week celebrating the fact that: “Today’s boarders are no longer cut off from their overprotective parents.” This is apparently due to the smartphone, which has “killed the ‘traditional’ boarding schools’ experience”, according to an “expert” who happens to be Hilary Moriarty, former director and marketing guru of the Boarding Schools Association.
Moriarty seems unaware of the evidence: not one child development theory supports the British habit of sending children away from their homes. Leading neuroscientists and attachment theorists now conclude that the trauma of early boarding has severe repercussions in adult family life; the publisher Routledge has commissioned two new books on psychotherapy with ex-boarders in the past two years, as demand for informed therapeutic treatment outstrips supply.Continue reading...
Toxicologists blame 40 cases, with one fatality so far, on mainly Syrian arrivals mistaking poisonous fungi such as the death cap for food
Most refugees have already defied the odds by the time they arrive in Europe, having typically undertaken perilous journeys across land and sea. But once they have reached Germany they are not out of danger, according to mushroom experts and doctors, who warn record numbers of people are becoming ill after eating poisonous mushrooms.
A leading German toxicologist has said poisonings are at an all-time high owing to the large number of newcomers foraging for mushrooms and mistaking those they find for varieties found in their homelands.Continue reading...
Now that we know that there is water on Mars, will it soon be accepted knowledge that octopuses trace their evolutionary roots back to the planet?
Surely you heard the news from outer space yesterday: scientists have confirmed the existence of water, flowing water, on Mars. This is phenomenal news, of course, for David Bowie and the rest of us interested in the search for extra terrestrial life. Because we know that water is a necessary condition for life, as we understand it, to flourish.
Such a discovery sets our imaginations spinning while raising a raft of related questions: will this make it easier for us to send humans like Matt Damon to go live on Mars? Can we somehow siphon Mars’s water to help solve the horrible drought in California so we can grow more delicious almonds? Or even just: where does the Red Planet’s water, evidenced by hydrated salt detected in the dark streaks known as “recurring slope linae” visible on the surface, come from? Whatever you’re asking, if you’re not imagining a subterranean ocean teeming with bizarre forms of life like the sea of monsters that the Beatles sail through in The Yellow Submarine, you’re clearly not assessing all your options.Continue reading...
As the UK reacts to allegations about David Cameron in his youth, the US grapples with tragic results of brutal initiation ceremonies – practices with strong ties to class structure and demonstrations of masculinity, experts say
Where were you when #piggate broke? Did you squeal with laughter and disbelief? Did you shamefully recall some embarrassing youthful memories of your own?
Public reaction to Lord Ashcroft’s claims about David Cameron has ranged from shrieks to mere shrugs, but the story also offered a fresh glimpse into the mystique of the elite. Whether harmless or destructive, such rites take place in social contexts that are breeding grounds for unbridled behavior.