Every now and then we detect an unusual signal from outer space that we have never seen before. Initially we can’t explain them, which is understandable; they’re a new type of signal and you can’t go around making up nonsense just because you don’t understand something. At least, scientists don’t. In 1967 Dame Jocelyn Bell… Read More New, Unexplained Extra-Galactic Signals Found
A note on randomness: random data isn’t random. Data that has been generated in a truly random fashion can, by chance, contain patterns that look extremely ordered on small scales. Let’s look at some illustrative examples. We have all heard of π (pi). Hopefully most of us will know it to 2 or 3 decimal places… Read More Order Amongst Chaos
Everybody knows that Saturn has rings. It’s pretty much the image that most of us conjure up when we think of other worlds and they are, truly, beautiful. It is little known, however, that Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune all have rings too. Whilst they are much less dense and not at all as easy to… Read More Phobos Is Running Rings Around Mars
I was asked today what I would be writing about and I told them that I was trying to come up with something about false memories. My questioner expressed surprise at the topic because surely you can’t just make up a false memory, and anyone who did would be ‘very naive’. Unfortunately, this is not the… Read More False Memories
A report by the American Heart Association reveals that the rich are more likely to get a transplant than those with less money. Researcher Raymond Givens looked at data on all transplants from 2000 to 2013 and found that people who registered themselves on more than one donor list were less likely to die whilst… Read More Need A Donor Organ? Be Rich.
It’s been all of five minutes since the last big news story about Pluto so high time for another. NASA recently released the image below which, whilst not on a par with previous ones when it comes to sheer breathtaking beauty, is, nonetheless, scientifically intriguing. What we have here is an aerial view of a… Read More Cryovulcanism: The Coolest Word In Science?
We’re going to play an ethical game. It’s a classic one that you have probably heard of before but is now beginning to have real world applications that I will explain a little later. Let us begin. You are on a bridge overlooking a train track. Tied to the track are 5 people and there… Read More I, For One, Welcome Our New Robot Overlords
There is a powerful new tool in the geneticist’s tool box helping push back the boundaries of our knowledge. The Exome Aggregation Consortium (ExAC) has amassed data on the exomes of more than 60,000 individuals. An exome is the part of the genome that actually encodes for proteins and is considered to be the functionally… Read More Big Data Comes To Genetics
It’s time to tackle a tricky subject. Everyone has heard of the placebo effect but there are a lot of misconceptions out there about what it really is and whether or not it’s ‘real’. Let’s start with a basic description of what it is: when a person is given a fake treatment for an illness,… Read More The Placebo Effect: The Myth and The Reality
Good news! The UK government finally seems to be taking the necessary action against homeopathy to rid it from the NHS. A prolonged and detailed campaign by The Good Thinking Society, and their threat of a judicial review, has finally had the desired effect. The government has said that next year it will conduct a… Read More Homeopathy, At Last, Is On The Ropes