Science, technology, and all things awesome with Ian Steadman


Deconstructing the tomato: elBulli mastermind Ferran Adrià’s academic fixation with food
By Ian Steadman - 11 May 16:45

elBulli's new project will "shift the paradigm" in molecular gastronomy.

Once again, lunar exploration is a primary concern of the world's space agencies. Photo: Getty Images
Japan joins list of nations planning on covering the Moon in robots over the next five years
By Ian Steadman - 27 April 13:04

The next five years will see a resurgence in lunar exploration, driven both by idealism and an economic incentive.

Wil Wheaton at Comic-Con 2014 - his wife, Anne, has been barraged with abuse on Twitter this week. Photo: Getty Images
PSA: G*m*rG*t* is still a thing; online hate mobs still target women with distressing regularity
By Ian Steadman - 23 April 15:11

This started in August, and it's still happening. Games culture - and geek culture in general - is a wounded monster, lashing out at the skyscrapers around it as it falls to the ground.

Venus appears near the crescent moon. Photo: Getty
Nasa chief scientist says we're (possibly) only a decade away from finding alien life
By Ian Steadman - 08 April 16:22

It's increasingly clear that the Solar System is more life-friendly than we'd previously suspected.

John Oliver gets to the crux of why the Snowden leaks matter: mass surveillance of dick pics
By Ian Steadman - 07 April 12:59

"I guess I never thought about putting it in the context of your junk."

A man collects plastic bottles to sell for recycling, in a landfill of Managua, Nicaragua, on January 11, 2013. Photo: Getty Images
Scientists buried biodegradeable plastics for three years, found it doesn't degrade
By Ian Steadman - 31 March 15:43

Common method of making plastic "biodegradeable" seems to be useless, in some types.

Zombies, off-duty. Photo: Getty Images
Good news: if you survive the first week of the zombie outbreak, chances are you'll survive it all
By Ian Steadman - 25 March 13:55

Great news for fans of not being eaten alive, less good news for the clumsy and slow.

So far, it's only if you've got one of these by your username.
Twitter gives (a few) users a new filter to block abuse
By Ian Steadman - 24 March 15:40

The social network's giving its "elite" users more control over whose tweets they have to pay attention to.

Phobos in 2008, as seen by the  Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
Mars' unusual moons may have been created by collision with Pluto-sized object
By Ian Steadman - 23 March 15:24

Mars' moons are unusual in the Solar System - for their size, shape and colour from their parent planet. Where did they come from? We've got some clues to work with.

This is not a real picture of today's eclipse. Photo: A4size-ska / DeviantArt
This is not a picture of today's eclipse
By Ian Steadman - 20 March 10:30

Don't trust everything you read.

Gotta catch 'em all. Photo: Getty Images
An easy way to generate an opinion on the Apple Watch if you need one in a hurry
By Ian Steadman - 10 March 17:49

Hurray, it's another shiny new gadget that apparently changes everything, or nothing, depending on who you ask.

Victims of the Black Death in the 14th century, whose remains were discovered during excavations for London's new Crossrail railway line. Photo: Crossrail Ltd
Gerbils and squirrels, not rats, may have been responsible for the Black Death
By Ian Steadman - 24 February 15:48

New research has found that rats alone can't have been responsible for Europe's medieval plague outbreaks - and giant Central Asian gerbils may have been an alternative accessory to the crime.

Human chromosomes, with the "sex" chromosomes on the far right. Image: BSIP/UIG via Getty Images
Sex isn’t chromosomes: the story of a century of misconceptions about X & Y
By Ian Steadman - 23 February 14:11

The influence of the XX/XY model of chromosomal sex has been profound over the last century, but it’s founded on faulty premises and responsible for encouraging reductive, essentialist thinking. While the scientific world has moved on, its popular appeal remains.

More pancake is better pancake. Photo: Getty Images
Using bad science to create the perfect Pancake Day recipe
By Ian Steadman - 17 February 10:41

Lots of places claim to have the “perfect” pancake recipe – but here’s how to guarantee the best results. Maybe.

Samsung's 4K TV sets on show at CES. Photo: Getty Images
Before we give doors and toasters sentience, we should decide what we're comfortable with first
By Ian Steadman - 10 February 13:51

It's becoming more and more common for everyday appliances to have features we don't expect, and the implications for privacy and freedom can be surprisingly profound. We should be sure we know what we're buying into.

Though not a household name in the UK, model and actor Jenny McCarthy’s claims that vaccinations caused her son’s autism have had a huge and damaging influence in the US. Photo: Getty Images
Anti-vaxxers have revived measles in the US, but what about the UK?
By Ian Steadman - 06 February 16:37

The resurgence of diseases like measles in the United States has come from the refusal of parents to vaccinate their children. The good news is that Britain isn’t seeing those same risks – but it could in the future.

The main GCHQ building in Cheltenham. Photo: Ministry of Defence
Privacy campaigners score big win as tribunal rules GCHQ's mass surveillance "illegal"
By Ian Steadman - 06 February 13:11

Programmes where US and UK security services intercepted and shared private data were unlawful, tribunal declares.

Julia Reda speaking at the German Pirate Party's annual congress in 2014. Photo: Joachim S. Müller/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
The Pirate Party's lone MEP might just fix copyright across the EU
By Ian Steadman - 29 January 17:33

The first draft of a copyright reform report, from the digital rights party's last MEP, could give the Pirates a significant legacy.

The Twitter logo and an example Twitter timeline. Photo: Getty Images
More sliding into DMs than ever before as Twitter adds group messaging
By Ian Steadman - 27 January 16:24

Twitter's move away from the stream continues apace with new mass direct messaging and video features.

The House of Lords in 2014, during the state opening of parliament. Photo: Getty Images
Sneaking Snooper's Charter in by the back door is the best argument yet for abolishing the Lords
By Ian Steadman - 26 January 13:23

The House of Lords is meant to be a place where those with specialist knowledge and experience can offer suggestions or amendments of how to improve the bills the Commons puts through - not remove our fundamental freedoms on a whim.

Poole in 2012, at the Digital Life Design conference in Munich, Germany. Photo: Getty Images
End of era as founder of anarchic messageboard 4chan steps down
By Ian Steadman - 21 January 17:40

4chan lies at the source of much of contemporary web culture, for better or worse, but its creator is walking away.

A lion tries to catch a box at the Santa Fe zoo in Medellin, Antioquia department, Colombia on January 10, 2015. Photo: Getty Images
Who would win in a fight, a trillion lions or the Sun?
By Ian Steadman - 19 January 18:21

A trillion lions fired into space could make Mars into an oasis, plus other things you can do with a giant ball of cats.

A general view of the Bitcoin booth at the 2015 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Getty Images
Slowly but surely, Bitcoin appears to be falling apart
By Ian Steadman - 14 January 17:32

Once seen as a better investment than gold, the digital cryptocurrency is experiencing some severe existential threats.

The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, site of the (theoretical) Prime Meridian. Photo: Getty Images
June's leap second will be a kind of deliberately-induced Millennium Bug
By Ian Steadman - 12 January 18:01

Sometimes the Earth doesn't spin as fast as it should - and that can give programmers a headache.

Musk unveiling the Tesla Model D in August 2014. Photo: Getty Images
Billionaire inventor Elon Musk's mundane top tip for success
By Ian Steadman - 06 January 11:53

Good news: you probably do it too.

Derby, the dog with the prosthetic paws. Image: 3D Systems
Adorable dogs (and Nasa) benefit from 3D printing's continual improvements
By Ian Steadman - 22 December 17:16

The flexibility and speed of 3D printing makes pet prosthetics and digitally-downloaded space tools a reality.

Curiosity taking a self-portrait. Image: Nasa
Curiosity sniffs farts on Mars, could mean extinction of humanity
By Ian Steadman - 19 December 15:00

Fluctuations in methane gas in the Martian atmosphere, detected by the Curiosity rover, could mean that there's life living below the surface of Gale Crater. The implications could be surprising.

Worms from a garden waste composter. Photo: Getty Images
Is a worm's brain in a Lego robot alive, or just creepy?
By Ian Steadman - 16 December 12:21

Researchers find model of worm brain acts just like a worm would, if it was a robot made of Lego.

James Watson at an event at the Science Museum in London, 2005. Photo: Getty Images
Russia's richest man indulges James Watson's Nobel Prize sale tantrum, buys to give it back
By Ian Steadman - 09 December 16:44

Alisher Usmanov spent just shy of $5m to purchase Watson's 1962 Nobel medal at auction, but says he plans to return it. Can we please go back to ignoring this bigoted man now?

The Orion capsule at the head of Nasa's Delta IV rocket as it launched today. Image: Screenshot of Nasa live feed
Orion, Nasa's next-gen Mars rocket, launches on first successful test flight
By Ian Steadman - 05 December 12:13

Major milestone passed as part of ongoing plan to land humans on Mars by 2030.