A Brief History of Cloning

27th April 2014

Colour photograph showing cells dividing.

Earlier this month, scientists in South Korea and the United States announced that they had cloned a human embryo, which could have developed into a foetus if it had been implanted into a surrogate mother. Cloning is the process of producing genetically identical individuals. This happens naturally in all asexual reproduction and in sexual reproduction when identical siblings are born. »

Creationism and Science

16th February 2014

Stained glass window, with text: ‘Is not God in the height of heaven?’.

Earlier this month, science educator Bill Nye debated young-Earth creationist Ken Ham on the topic of whether the literal interpretation of Genesis is a viable model for the origin of the universe. At first glance, this debate may seem strange and pointless, Ham is free to believe whatever he wants, as everyone should be, and science and religion are not in obvious conflict. »

Be X-ray binaries and the super-magnetic universe

8th December 2013

Artist’s impression of a neutron star, with a magnetosphere that extends far beyond the neutron star’s radius.

For the last two years, I have been researching neutron stars at the University of Southampton, supervised by Professor Malcolm Coe and Dr Wynn Ho, and we have recently made a surprising discovery. Neutron stars are the most magnetic objects in the universe, with some having magnetic fields so high that quantum behaviour comes into effect. »

What happens to us when we dream?

17th November 2013

'The Dream' by Henri Rousseau.

We spend about a third of our lives sleeping, and much of that time dreaming, yet we still don't know why this happens. Almost all animals are thought to sleep. In complex animals, sleep can be defined as a state of reversible unconsciousness, illustrated by a change in brain wave patterns and eye movements. »

A Brief History of CERN

30th July 2013

Simulated image of the Higgs boson decaying.

Before construction began on the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in 1954, the atom was known to be composed of electrons (an elementary particle, and a type of lepton), and a nucleus containing neutrons and protons (which are hadrons, particles now known to be made of smaller particles called quarks and gluons), and all of these particles were thought to have an antimatter partner. »

Women in Science

12th May 2013

Photograph of women working at Harvard College Observatory in the 1890s.

Women are massively under-represented in physics and other STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects at all levels. A report by the Institute of Physics, using data from 2011, showed that 46% of schools in the UK had no girls continue to study physics after the age of 16. »

A Brief History of Life on Earth

17th March 2013

Photograph of a dandelion.

We still don't know how life came into existence on Earth, although all life forms are built from amino acids, which can arise naturally. The first life consisted of prokaryotes, simple cells that may have evolved about 3.8 billion years ago, within a billion years of the formation of the Earth. »

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