Development, Developers and the Water Environment

Would you want a quarry near your house? Driven by EU law, environmental impact assessment is now a requirement for developers planning mineral extraction, waste disposal sites and major housing schemes. Initially, the emphasis lay on the prevention of environmental damage, but very rapidly this shifted into the language of ‘sustainability’, and what might be […]

Oil on Troubled Waters: The Industrial Legacy and Britain’s Groundwater

Groundwater is an important source of drinking water in London and elsewhere, but the legacy of the UK’s industrial revolution includes contamination at an extreme and increasingly widely-realised scale. Drawing on research in the English Midlands, the lecture will explore how mining, metal-based manufacturing, and the oil industry have produced an environmental conundrum that is […]

A Silent Witness: Murder and the application of Environmental Science

The bodies of murder victims, either whole or in pieces, often finish up in rivers and canals. For the last fifteen years or so, Carolyn Roberts has worked as an Expert Witness with various UK police forces to apply the principles of environmental science in murder investigations. In these most tragic and gruesome settings, environmental science can help […]

Changing ourselves

From hammerstones to biotechnology: Lizzie Norris looks at the engineering that has helped us to increase our lifespan and improve our quality of life.

The Thames: Back from the Dead?

Dead fish after an overflow event. Image: Thames Anglers Conservancy. There once was a time when the Thames was teeming with life. Otters, eels, and even salmon were abundant. But time has not been kind to the river, and it has been subjected to the worst consequences of human development. The use and abuse of […]

Residents Lead the Way

Residents lead the way in restoring the River Wandle Bright and early on a June weekend morning, volunteers in a park in South London are pulling on waders, grabbing litter pickers, and slipping their hands into protective gloves. It’s time to clean up the River Wandle. The River Wandle starts in Croydon, runs through South […]

News Round-Up: New Moon, Solar Windows, ‘Green’ Algae, Namibian Water

Pluto’s fifth moon discovered Image: Hubblesite A new moon has been found orbiting Pluto, bringing the number of satellites known around the former planet to five. P5 – the moon’s temporary designation – is between 10 to 25 km across (less than the diameter of London’s North Circular Road), and was discovered by scientists at […]

Dealing with Soggy Summers

Despite it being July, and officially British summer time, it still feels like October. This is the wettest summer in living memory and it has started to feel as if the rain will never stop. However, whilst most of us are bemoaning the loss of our suntans and the barbeque season, scientists at Lancaster University […]

Science Behind the Photo #39

With thanks to Adair Farrar The San Juan River Goosenecks State Park in Utah, USA, overlooks a deep meander of the San Juan River, a 600-km-long tributary of the Colorado River. One of the best examples of entrenched river meanders in the world, the river flows through 8 kms of canyon while progressing westwards only […]

Sub-Surface Life?

This article is taken from the Winter 2011 issue of I, Science magazine Antonio Torrisi uncovers the secrets held by the mysterious Lake Vostok, Antarctica’s as-yet unexplored sub-surface lake. The Antarctic is one of the most extreme places on Earth, so it follows it would be one of the least explored. However, remote areas spark […]

Pure Water Can KIll You

Fact of the day #1 Drinking absolutely pure water can kill you. All the water we normally drink – from taps, from bottles, from the garden hose – contains impurities which affect a property of water called tonicity. This is the ability of a solution to draw or repel water from ajacent solutions when separated by […]

1932: Physics goes “Anti” – Part II

In the same year as Anderson’s experiment demonstrated the existence of antimatter, another oft-overlooked discovery was made. William and Alun Hughes published an article on Nature in which they stated that in pouring soap solution drops in water, they could observe in addition to floating drops some other small drops (about 1-4 mm of diameter), […]

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 […]

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 […]

Moon birth theory holds no water

Four and half billion years ago, a meteorite the size of Mars slammed into Earth, melting the entire surface of our planet and throwing billions of tonnes of rock into space.  In time, the ejected rubble – baked dry by the explosion’s searing heat – condensed into a parched, lifeless satellite, the Moon.  This is […]

Fresh water from sunlight

The Sun has finally got his London hat on.  So to celebrate, here’s a warming story about smart scientists using solar energy to alleviate water poverty. The Middle East is almost always sunny.  Jordan, for example, gets some of the highest levels of solar energy in the world – seven times as much as London […]

Your world’s a toxic, dark hole

Your home is your only place of sanctuary. Yet, lurking in the walls is a silent menace. It is a noxious, suffocating, toxic presence, creeping out of cracks and threatening to overwhelm you if you let your guard down. If you venture out to collect food, you face attack: your only option is to flee […]

Bloomin marvellous

An unusually snowy winter, and weeks of heavy rainfall in south east USA has resulted in the Mississippi River flooding to record levels.  As a response, US engineers have released the rising waters onto the floodplains surrounding the river, in order to save the heavily populated regions further downstream. The economic costs of such an […]

Two membranes are better than one at purifying water

Globally, polluted water kills 14,000 people every day.  In India, over 350,000 children die of diarrhoea from dirty drinking water every year.  In China, 90% of cities suffer from some type of water pollution.  In the US, a recent study found contaminants in 45% of the country’s stream miles and 47% of lake acres.  Despite […]

Titanic antics

Last year, I had the good fortune of going on a white water rafting trip. Shivering uncontrollably from the combination of the cold and the danger, it was, all things considered, an amazing adventure. One factor, which at the time, I was very grateful for was the raft – a sturdy construction of rubber and […]