50 Years of the Internet

Map of scientific collaborations Guest contributor Julie Gould celebrates the Internet’s Golden Jubilee. There have been significant leaps in our understanding of science and technology in the last fifty years. Some have radically changed our world, such as our sending a man into space and the silicon chip. However, one tool above all has become […]

Maths and Imaginary Machines

This article is taken from the Spring 2012 issue of I, Science. Programming is a skill that allows us to develop and personalise the functions of computers – and anyone can learn to harness it, argues Michael Cook One of my favourite editions of historical webcomic Hark! A Vagrant! is about Ada Lovelace, daughter of […]

Museums at Night 2012: Lancing the Surgeons

Hunterian Museum The Royal College of Surgeons of England, 35-43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London Friday 18 May, 6-9pm If you’ve not been to the Hunterian museum before (or just haven’t been in a while), this is a chance to see the spookiest setting around in an even spookier light at the Hunterian Museum Lates tomorrow […]

Braaaains

Brains: The Mind as Matter Wellcome Collection, Euston Road, London 29 March 2012 – 17 June 2012 After my interest in intelligence was awakened by Horizon: the Hunt for AI, I decided to take a break from studying in the library at the Wellcome Trust and explore their temporary exhibition space by visiting Brains: The […]

Morbid Anatomy

Hunterian Museum The Royal College of Surgeons of England, 35-43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London Permanent exhibition Is the collection at the Hunterian Museum a Twenty-First Century freak show? Visitors meander around a darkened room filled with illuminated glass jars from floor to ceiling. Pointed fingers and gasps of surprise and shock punctuate the silence. Inside […]

The Bone Wars

This article is taken from the Winter 2011 issue of I, Science. The story of 19th century palaeontology is one of personalities and conflicts as well as fossils. Sophie Buijsen investigates the rivalry that fuelled an unprecedented rush of discoveries. In the ground below us lies a world that, in recent centuries, has slowly started […]

What is Superconductivity? (Part 1)

The incredible phenomenon of superconductivity was discovered in 1911 and celebrated its centenary last year. The breakthrough led to a great number of further discoveries and exotic phenomena, leading in turn to technical applications such as superconductive magnets for particle accelerators, magnetic resonance imaging, maglev trains that can reach speeds of 581 km/h, transformers for […]

Secret Scientist: Lucia Burgio

Lucia Burgio: Senior objects analyst at the Victoria & Albert Museum Like most scientists, Lucia works in a laboratory. However, Lucia’s role at the V&A bridges the divide between art and science. Her time is spent studying the materials used on works of art. Using her chemistry background, Lucia is able to analyse, for example, […]

Mendeleev and Mendelevium

Mendeleev’s periodic table, a rectangle of colourful framed squares hanging on the walls of all chemistry departments in the world, is considered the “Gospel” of the chemist or, better, its portable version. Nowadays the periodic table is printed everywhere, from calendars to mouse-pads and bookmarks. We can say that it represents the essential order of […]

Lessthanthree

Long thought to be the seat of the soul, the heart remains an emotive symbol of passion and there’s apparently still no better way to proclaim an infatuation than with a big pink heart stamped on glossy cardboard. The heart “nourishes, cherishes, quickens the whole body, and is indeed the foundation of life, the source […]

Why da Vinci was a Scientist First

Four Reasons Why Leonardo da Vinci was a Scientist First and Artist Second National Gallery 9 November 2011 – 5 February 2012 Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan is the National Gallery’s latest blockbuster exhibition featuring the largest-ever collection of the surviving paintings and sketches of one of history’s most well known […]

An Exercise in Contrast

Medicine Man / Medicine Now Wellcome Collection, Euston Road, London Permanent exhibitions Rather than stick around at their newest exhibition – Miracles and Charms, which I found to be frankly rather uninspiring – on my recent visit to the Euston Road mega-structure that is the Wellcome Trust, I ventured upstairs to their longer term exhibition: […]

Welcome to Elements

A big and warm welcome to you, kind and enthusiastic reader: a big and warm welcome to the realm of matter, which matters a lot, because it’s all related to what we are and what we are surrounded by. The idea started around a year ago with a charming and enthusiastic event hosted by The […]

Multiple Kittens, Polydactyl Mittens

Welcome to The Dog & Pony Show! Let’s talk about cats. Not all cats are created equal. A couple of days ago, the BBC posted an article about a pair of polydactyl kittens. (If you’re wildly picturing a chimera of cat and pterosaur, you’ve headed off in the wrong direction. Come back.) Polydactyly is an […]

Captain Scott’s 100-Year Legacy

Despite none of them making it home, the scientific legacy of Captain Scott and his team remains strong 100 years on. Here are just a few of the discoveries that can be traced back to Scott’s tragic Antarctic expedition. 2011 marks the 100-year anniversary of Robert Falcon Scott’s doomed quest to be the first to […]

Science Behind the Photo #33

This detailed photograph of our Moon was taken at the University of London Observatory (ULO), on the amazingly beautiful and intricate Fry telescope. Made by famous telescope manufacturer Thomas Cook in 1862, it was moved to ULO in 1930. It is used often to instruct astronomy students and is mainly used to observe planets, solar […]

Dinosaur fossil was a scrapper

Any kid who watched Jurassic Park through their fingers will be pleased to hear those Raptors sometimes got what was coming to them! The claw-like ‘toes’ on the Velociraptor contributed to it’s menacing demeanour, yet up until now their function was a mystery. After the discovery of a new species of Raptor in Utah, Scientists […]

The volcanic tsunami that broke an empire

3700 years ago, Mount Thera exploded with a force that ruptured the fabric of an entire civilisation. Humans had been coping with the area’s angry tectonics for centuries, but for the Minoans of Crete, something made this eruption truly devastating. In 2000, scientists found tsunami traces in sediments from Crete and Turkey. Now, researchers have […]

A world bubbling over with bubbles

The most recent financial crisis caused by the housing bubble, which popped as subprime mortgages in the US and many Western European countries defaulted, has been having dramatic consequences in many aspects of Western Europe and US economies such as high rate of unemployment and economical policies based on ”cut if you can”. Stock market […]

Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The story of Henrietta Lacks, the African American woman whose cancer cells gave rise to the famous HeLa cellline is not a story about the glories of medicine; it is instead about racism, science and the price of poverty. HeLa cells are the most commonly used cell lines in medical research. They orginally came from […]

A Year in the Life of Neptune

Having started life as a hypothetical planet, it was only recently that Neptune’s precise path through space was confirmed, as it completed its first full orbit since its discovery in 1846. To celebrate this occasion, NASA released some stunning anniversary pictures, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. At the giant planet’s great distance of 30 […]

When Business and Health Collide: Bhopal, India 1984

BY JOSEPH MALONE In 1969, as part of the “green revolution” in India, Union Carbide established a chemical plant in Bhopal to manufacture the pesticide Carbaryl. It contained the lethal compound Methyl Isocyanate (MIC), twice as heavy as air, meaning should a leak occur, it would create a blanket of deadly gas, smothering anything that […]

Antarctica’s chilling tale

How did Antarctica come to be a barren, treeless land of ice?  Once carpeted with flowers and forests, today it’s a frozen desert, good only for mosses, lichens and a few hardy species of grass.  So what happened?  Scientists drilling off the Antarctic Peninsula – the last refuge for plants as temperatures fell – have […]

Pisa Cake

Earlier this year, Imperial College Professor, John Burland travelled to Italy to celebrate the 20th anniversary of a project that prevented the Leaning Tower of Pisa from collapsing. Professor Burland worked as part of a 14 member committee charged with stabilising the tower, which began to develop its characteristic lean after construction progressed to the second floor […]

E.coli Outbreak: How Epidemiology Saved the Day

Last week scientists solved the puzzle of the recent E.coli outbreak not by high-tech molecular techniques but by plain old interviewing. The deadly bean sprouts were finally identified by a task force conducting interviews. They talked to all the people who had been infected and discovered that those who had eaten bean sprouts were nine […]

Science Behind the Photo #19

  There can be few species on Earth about which more myths exist than piranhas. Piranhas have an aggressive image as flesh-eaters, able to dilacerate a human body in seconds. While piranhas do occasionally attack humans, this is only usually when water levels are low and there has never been an official recorded death due […]

Science Behind the Photo #13

Given that many Christians will be celebrating Easter this weekend, I thought it would be interesting to use an image of a passion flower I took a couple of years ago in France for this week’s science behind the photo. To be honest, I just stumbled across this fascinating story of how the flower got […]

Book Review: The Immortalisation Commission

John Gray, he of ‘Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus’ fame, has a new book out. It’s been out for two months here in the UK, but today the book get’s its US launch. Ben Good gives his thoughts on Gray’s most recent effort… Death and Taxes. Attempt to cheat one and you […]

Unseen Heroes of Science

Gideon Mantell (1790–1852) Mantell was a full-time medical doctor, but made some incredible contributions to palaeontology in his spare time. He was the first to correctly identify dinosaur fossils as giant reptiles and to describe Iguanodon, but was constantly fielding criticism from his rival, the founder of the Natural History Museum, Richard Owen. Eminent French […]

Proofing the pudding

For something so small, it’s not shy of a big theory. In fact, the atom and its activity have a long history in the world of theoretical science, punctuated by the ideas of many a perplexed physicist. The birth of atomic theory takes us way, way back to ancient Greek times. Here, Democritus (460–370 BC), […]