Here comes the science bit

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Vanishing act: the Italian physicist Ettore Majorana, who disappeared in 1938. Photo: Kanijoman/Flickr
The vanishing particle physicist and the puzzle he left behind
By Michael Brooks - 30 October 9:00

Ettore Majorana was an Italian physicist, the best of his generation, who disappeared in mysterious circumstances in 1938.

Illustration: André Carrilho
The great ebola scare
By Michael Brooks - 19 October 9:03

It is being called the most severe health emergency of modern times. But are the fears of mass contagion in the west overblown?

Autumn rain: being damp is inferred rather than truly felt. Photo: Getty
On our nerves: what makes us itch or feel wet?
By Michael Brooks - 16 October 10:00

Michael Brooks’s science column. 

Hope injection: women with their pets at a rabies vaccination centre in India. Photo: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images
Preventing rabies: the dog jabs that can save humans
By Michael Brooks - 09 October 10:00

Responsibility for treatment of infected people falls on human health services. It is difficult to create an alliance against rabies until animal and human health experts co-ordinate.

The implications of this research is profound. Photo: Getty
Is it a man or a mouse?
By Michael Brooks - 02 October 9:00

Scientists have a simple recipe for creating a more human-like mouse: just alter its DNA very slightly.

Part of a new permanent exhibition at the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie in Paris dedicated to the human brain. Photo: Getty
How it is possible to live fairly normally with half your brain missing
By Michael Brooks - 22 September 11:10

Chinese researchers have recently reported a case of a woman found to have no cerebellum, a part of the brain that usually contains half of its neurons.

A row of traditional American mailboxes. Photo: Andrew Taylor/Flickr
Reprivatising the internet: how physics helps you hide from spooks
By Michael Brooks - 18 September 10:00

Tim Berners-Lee has publicly called for programmers to develop better, more user-friendly cryptography. That way, he says, we can all get back to living private lives again.

Starry, starry night: the Perseid meteor shower seen from Burma, 2013. Photo: Getty
Pleiades row: the fault in our star measurements
By Michael Brooks - 11 September 10:00

Either our understanding of how stars form needs a big overhaul, or one of the current missions of the European Space Agency could turn out to be something of a white elephant.

A Eurasian jay picks at a nut in northeastern Germany. Photo: Getty
Jay joy: what it feels like for a bird
By Michael Brooks - 02 September 17:00

Attributing emotions to birds is not a flight of fancy. Emotions are a feature of evolution: they arose to help creatures navigate the world safely and with maximum reward.

Nurses wearing protective suits escort a man infected with the ebola virus to a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, 25 August. Photo: Getty
Why releasing untested ebola drugs was the right thing to do
By Michael Brooks - 28 August 10:00

Drug trials rarely tell the whole story as many drugs have side effects that emerge only after deployment in the population at large. Yet unexpected effects can sometimes be surprisingly good.

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is seen in a photo taken by the Rosetta spacecraft, 6 August. Photo: Getty
Hunting the rocky rubber duck: how comet-chasing Rosetta could change history
By Michael Brooks - 21 August 10:00

This ball of rock and ice formed at the same time as our solar system and should, if predictions are correct, contain complex organic molecules, the same stuff as terrestrial life is made from.

The morning after: festivals are prone to outbreaks of mumps and measles. Photo: Olivia Harris/Reuters
How to stay healthy at summer festivals
By Michael Brooks - 14 August 10:00

Following outbreaks of campylobacter infection at Glastonbury and flu at festivals in Europe, some researchers are calling for better surveillance of the threats to festival-goers’ health.

Water horses: a mother and baby hippo swim at a zoo in Mexico City. Photo: Getty
Michael Brooks: Hippo fossils offer clues about swimming
By Michael Brooks - 30 July 15:00

Fossilised guides to what the earth was like millions of years ago are rare, and understanding water tracks can make a difference.

French electricity pylons. Photo: Getty
Shock horror: people will take serious pain over phoneless boredom
By Michael Brooks - 17 July 10:00

Left alone in a sparsely furnished room for 15 minutes, stripped of all electronic distractions but one, boredom made the electric-shock machine irresistible.

A photograph of the Large Hadron Collider in the Science Museum. Photo: Getty
Entangled in photons: the spooky behaviour of light particles
By Michael Brooks - 09 July 9:42

If you’re after science that makes you question your place in the universe, focus on that phrase “light years”, one that astronomers use so casually.

Tee time: at some point the universe blew up in size from subatomic to golf ball size. Photo: Getty
Making ripples: another Big Bang theory bites the dust
By Michael Brooks - 30 June 15:00

In March, the team of astronomers working on the Bicep2 telescope announced that they had seen ripples caused by the universe’s inflation. 

Mane event: horse placenta has been used to treat footballers’ injuries. Photo: Getty
The placenta is a marvel that scientists can’t match
By Michael Brooks - 24 June 9:25

Nothing we can engineer has come close to replicating the placenta’s ability to act as the kidney, lungs, hormone source, nutrition channel and waste disposal unit for a growing foetus.

A cobra in India. Photo: Getty
No one will die of a snakebite in Britain this summer. Why?
By Michael Brooks - 19 June 10:00

The most recent snakebite death in the UK was in 1975. If only that were true elsewhere: snakebites kill up to 94,000 people and necessitate hundreds of thousands of amputations every year.

Dynamite with a laser beam: artist Yvette Mattern's Global Rainbow in Whitley Bay, 2012. Photo: Getty
Firing lasers into a box made of gold – the race to turn light particles into matter
By Michael Brooks - 05 June 10:00

This could prove a neater way to investigate the fundamental building blocks of nature than examining the debris created by high-energy particle collisions.

Nothing like this one: a humanoid robot at a robotics fair in Lyon, 19 March. Photo: Getty
Should scientists be prosecuted for killings carried out by their armed robots?
By Michael Brooks - 29 May 10:00

Using technology about to be approved for medical use, we can now program computers to identify a possible target and decide whether to fire weapons at it.

Colin Pillinger in 2004. Photo: Getty
Never forget Colin Pillinger – and all he did for the UK space industry
By Michael Brooks - 23 May 13:14

Hopefully, we'll soon be launching a mission to Mars from the UK.

Good chemistry: a display of cupcakes iced with chemical element symbols. Photo: Flickr
The Periodic table versus the Apocalypse
By Michael Brooks - 15 May 13:22

Not just a faded poster on a lab wall, but “as impressive as the Pyramids or any of the other wonders of the world”. The table also holds the key to finding replacements for antibiotics. 

Having a flutter: a lack of food for butterfly larvae has eaten into numbers. Photo: Getty
Butterflies are beautiful but we need to love their larvae too
By Michael Brooks - 30 April 10:00

The numbers of monarch butterflies are at a record low and a large part of this is because of the disappearance of the milkweed plant, eaten by caterpillars.

Welcome to the age of synthetic biology – it’s all about yeast
By Michael Brooks - 17 April 10:00

We don’t need evolution any more – we've outsourced the processes to ourselves.

Not so new: K-pop band Big Bang perform in Seoul, March 2012. (Photo: Getty)
The Big Bang theory is not as modern as you think
By Michael Brooks - 27 March 10:00

We have fooled ourselves into thinking that modern science began with Newton but Grosseteste wrote his treatise in 1225.

Sound and vision: Krafwerk perform in New York, 2012. (Photo: Getty)
Having trouble with your vision? There’s an app for that
By Michael Brooks - 26 March 14:03

EyeMusic will allow you to hear shapes and colours

A woman in Greenland tends a potato crop. The country has seen a dramatic shrinkage in ice recently. (Photo: Getty)
Who’s afraid of the big, bad virus? Perils from beneath the Arctic ice
By Michael Brooks - 19 March 10:10

The melting of Arctic permafrost is reawakening millennia-buried pathogens. But it’s the release of methane we should be more worried about.

Sandra Bullock goes for a spacewalk in Gravity. (Photo: Warner Bros)
In search of the notorious Big G: why we still know so little about gravity
By Michael Brooks - 13 March 9:00

Gravity is pathetic and so is our understanding of it.

Florence Nightingale in Scutari hospital during the Crimean War. Photo: Getty Images
Beautiful Science at the British Library: a history of the portrayal of data
By Michael Brooks - 06 March 10:00

A highlight is Florence Nightingale’s rose diagram, showing how dirty hospitals were killing more soldiers than war.

Caterpillars. Photo: Getty
Got a cold? Eat caterpillars
By Michael Brooks - 28 February 8:34

Why medinical zinc is not all it's cracked up to be.

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