Browsing Category : Featured

Book Review: The Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who


The Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who Simon Guerrier and Dr. Marek Kukula BBC Books, Paperback (2016)   I didn’t start watching Doctor Who until the rebooted series in 2005. I missed the original episodes because I wasn’t born until well into the era of the Fourth Doctor, and because I spent the rest of the initial series in a country…

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Beach bodies, as rated by marine biologists


Sea nettle (2/5) Ouch! Their transparent look makes them hard to spot, but a surprise encounter with one of these beach bodies can really hurt your seaside enjoyment. Penguin (3/5) The coolest penguins are chilling on beaches in Australia, South Africa and Argentina this season. They certainly dress to impress, but does your beach body really need a dinner jacket?…

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Pantographs and the magic of words


“Drivers! Don’t forget to drop the pantograph!” I don’t know what it means, but this sign at London’s Farringdon Station sounds important and magical. It’s a large white sign at the end of the platform, just before the train enters the tunnel towards City Thameslink station. I don’t want to look up what a pantograph is or why it needs…

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Coffee (3 Scientists)


The conference Stroking the screen of his smartphone, he scrolled past tweets that succinctly summarized the words of the man on the podium. The speaker’s unfunny jokes made even less amusing when amplified by a stream of identical tweets and retweets. The core of the message – if there was one – lost in a sea of digital chatter. The…

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The pizza ploy


In early 2002, Guyang Huang’s career was not going in the direction he expected. A year earlier, his work at the Beijing Genomics Institute earned him a spot in the author list of the high profile Nature paper publishing the draft of the human genome. Huang was author 149 of 249, somewhere in the middle of a massive list. After…

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Image origins: That walking molecule


Suddenly it’s everywhere: a gif of a molecule stepping along, carrying a big load. It’s currently going viral online, with text suggesting that it’s a myosin molecule carrying endorphins in the brain. It’s none of that. First of all, it’s not a myosin molecule, but kinesin. They’re both motor proteins and some of the myosin proteins have a very similar…

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Conference name badges


I tidied my desk area this weekend, and thought it was time to go through my collection of conference name badges. I may have a problem: There were badges for conferences about stem cells, worm genetics, biochemistry, ecology, science journalism, microbiology, signalling networks, art/science, and local graduate student meetings at universities in five different countries. According to the ribbons on…

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Of mice and men – a poem


  (Every line is the title of an academic article. References below.)   Of mice and men?1   Of mice and men.2 Of mice and men, metals and mutations.3 Of mice and men, corticosteroids, and vicarious participation.4 Of mice and men–universality and breakdown of behavioral organization.5 Of mice and men: the riddle of tubular regeneration.6   Of mice and men:…

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