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January
2010

If I was a running shoe manufacturer, I would be worried…

This is brilliant.  I’ve heard intimations of it on various websites for the last few months, but it’s always good to see a published paper backing it up. In short, it says that running shoes are not actually necessary for runners.  In fact, they may do more to cause damage than to protect. So, the paper, published in Nature, says something along the following lines: Man has evolved as a creature capable of running.  For […]

What would we do when the aliens land?

According to Nature, we’d be in trouble… I love it when serious publications take a walk into the slightly more whimsical.  Let me clear, here – I firmly believe that there is intelligent life out there.  I also firmly believe the hallmarks of their intelligence are that they haven’t contacted us (in the same way that one does not hang out with a revolting teenager for fun), nor are they currently involved in any activity […]

A little bit of fun: how to (mathematically) park your car

One wonders if this doesn’t have IgNobel potential.  Of course, it’s not particularly useful, so I doubt it, but it does have that slightly silly appeal :) Vauxhall Motors commissioned a University of London researchers by the name of Simon Blackburn to figure out how much space any given car needs to parallel park without ‘see-sawing’. As he says in his paper: “I want to parallel park, and I’ve found a space. The road is […]

Stunning visions of Mars

Humanity is now the proud owner of some 13,000 photos of Mars taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Monitoring Seasonal Albedo Patterns on South Polar Residual Cap (ESP_014405_0945) Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona The photos were taken by the most powerful camera of any on NASA’s spacecraft – the aptly (if dryly) named High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE).  The HiRISE site not only lets you amble through the collection, but also offers wallpapers (for the […]

Sperm of a feather clump together

I’m gobsmacked.  And highly amused, as well (it’s the immature part of me, apologies). Credit: Phil Myers (photographer, copyright holder), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan.  More info here and here.  (I tried to find a picture of sperm in question, but nothing seemed to be (c)-free) Research published in Nature this week has shown something incredible – sperm may not be the mindless automatons bethought by many of us. Instead, researchers have found that […]

Stonehenge built as ancient memory storage device?

Stonehenge is something of an enduring mystery.  We’ve been fascinated by the how and why of it, and both dimensions have seen their fair share of possible explanations. For an interesting explanation of how, have a look here: I remember seeing this on the Discovery channel a few years back, and being struck at how much simpler it was than some of the other explanations I’ve heard over the years. As for why?  Well, people […]

On the matter of time, and how the past crystallises out of the future

Yes, you read the title correctly. In a fascinating paper written by George Ellis, of me ol’ alma mater the University of Cape Town and Tony Rothman, from Princeton University in New Jersey, they posit that the place where this crystallisation occurs is, interestingly, the present. Not as in gift (although the present is a gift, yes), but as in the now.  This moment. No, this one. Kinda (but on to that later). But wait […]

Introducing a new blogger: Journeys to the Ice

To celebrate the start of a brand new year, Sciblogs is pleased to provide all of you with a brand new blogger. Matt Wood, of Journeys to the Ice, is going to be blogging about Antarctica and Antarctic science.  Having spent some time actually working in Antarctica with the ARC, it’s a subject close to his (now no doubt thawed) heart. He also has a podcast, to which anyone can subscribe free, available through iTunes.  […]