Category: Physical sciences

History: Life on Mars

Hugo Schmidt reveals the advances made in the field of Astrobiology  Democritus, the ancient Greek philosopher, famously stated that the world was composed of atoms and empty space. Despite his speculation no further advances were made in atomic theory for almost two thousand years until the turn of the 20th century when a number of… Read More »

October 3, 2012

Behind the Science: Written in the Stars

Matthew Dunstan explores the life of controversial physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson is a rare individual. One of the leading astrophysicists in the world and a strong advocate for the importance of space exploration and scientific ambition in the American cultural landscape, he has also crossed over to the more public sphere to… Read More »

Concussions cause brain ageing?

  The first sign that concussion can prematurely age the brain by breaking down its signalling pathways has been found by researchers at the University of Michigan. Led by Steven Broglio, the team studied the differences in gait, electrical activity, balance, and impulse control between college students who had a history of concussion and those… Read More »

August 17, 2012

Away from the Bench: Science on Ice

Hugo Schmidt talks to Pierre Dutrieux and Paul Holland about science at the South Pole. Although the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) no longer has to worry about Nazi raiders, life in it is still tough. From its conception as a World War II survey post, to studying melting caused by global warming, the BAS calls… Read More »

April 27, 2012

Arts & Science: Dreaming up Science

  Beth Venus looks at how thought experiments have explained scientific phenomena. It is a misconception that the poet is more of a dreamer than the scientist. Yet a huge range of crucial and inspired thought experiments—the exquisite dreams of scientists—have signposted scientific progress in almost every field. In particular, insights gleaned from mental laboratories… Read More »

Focus: Higher, Faster, Stronger

  BlueSci explores the role of science in pushing the boundaries of human physical ability. The revival of the Olympic Games in 1896 marked a new era for modern sports, with hundreds of athletes coming together to compete in Athens. One hundred and sixteen years later, the games have evolved, with thousands of athletes representing… Read More »

Cover: Deducing Diffractions

Lindsey Nield explains the science behind this issue’s front cover. The magnetic properties of materials can be thought of as arising from microscopic bar magnets located on each atom of the material. At high temperatures, these magnets are arranged randomly, like atoms or molecules in a gas. By contrast, at low temperatures the magnets usually… Read More »

Final flight of Discovery

After a year of decommissioning, NASA’s flagship Space Shuttle Discovery has made its final flight, this time within Earth’s atmosphere to its retirement home at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center, in Chantilly, Virginia. Piggy-backing on one of NASA’s two specially-modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Aircraft Carriers, Discovery made the… Read More »

April 24, 2012

How to detect traces of explosives

Scientists at the National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology in Trivandrum, India, have developed a simple method for detecting attogram (10-18 g) quantities of the explosive trinitrotoluene (TNT). TNT is still used in many explosive devices, and the by-products from a TNT explosion can contaminate groundwater and soil for years after detonation. Techniques such as sniffer… Read More »

March 21, 2012