Solving the Ribosome

Steven Shapin, 24 January 2019

RNA​ gets no respect. It is similar in make-up to its charismatic chemical cousin, with small structural variations. DNA is a very long double-stranded helix while many forms of RNA are shorter...

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Consider the Narwhal

Katherine Rundell, 3 January 2019

For now, there are perhaps eighty thousand narwhals in existence. The Arctic is currently in its polar night. In some corner of the sunless sea, passing through waters cold and dark enough to keep us at...

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The End-Cretaceous Event

Francis Gooding, 3 January 2019

No doubt some hardy creatures will ride out the current planetary catastrophe, and birds are as good a contender as any; after all, 66 million years ago they had what it took to evade the effects of a...

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Poison and the Bomb

Norman Dombey, 20 December 2018

In​ February 1945 the Soviet people’s commissar for state security, V.N. Merkulov, sent a memo on the status of the Manhattan Project to his boss, Lavrentii Beria, head of the NKVD....

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Diary: Rare Birds

Christopher Nicholson, 22 November 2018

When,​ as a boy of eight or nine, I began to watch birds with some seriousness, I kept lists. The RSPB sold little grey notebooks with lists of British species, and I kept a life list of all...

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Pushing Buttons

David Trotter, 22 November 2018

Towards​ the end of his time at Mack Sennett’s Keystone Studios, Charlie Chaplin began to direct as well as star in the short slapstick films that were the company’s staple product....

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Metrics

Stefan Collini, 8 November 2018

How much​ does your spouse or partner love you? Is it more or less than other people love their partners? To find out, we would need to measure the available evidence. Suppose that having...

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Am I My Mother-in-Law?

Meehan Crist, 25 October 2018

The way we talk about heredity – he got his height from his uncle; she has her mother’s laugh – isn’t linked to science at all.

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Medieval Bodies

Barbara Newman, 11 October 2018

For​ medievalists, the bodily turn has had a profound impact not just on the histories of medicine and sexuality, as one would expect, but also on those of art, religion and ideas. Thirty-five...

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Consider the Wombat

Katherine Rundell, 11 October 2018

‘The Wombat​,’ Dante Gabriel Rossetti wrote in 1869, ‘is a Joy, a Triumph, a Delight, a Madness!’ Rossetti’s house at 16 Cheyne Walk in Chelsea had a large...

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Sharky Waters

Amia Srinivasan, 11 October 2018

On 15 September​, 26-year-old Arthur Medici was killed by a great white shark off Newcomb Hollow Beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He was thirty yards from the shore, boogie boarding, when the...

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Psychedelics

Mike Jay, 27 September 2018

‘Wouldn’t you like​ to see a positive LSD story on the news?’ asked the late comedian Bill Hicks in one of his most famous routines. ‘Today, a young man on acid realised...

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Denisovans meet Neanderthals

Steven Mithen, 13 September 2018

A scientific revolution is underway in the way we investigate and understand the past.

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Diary: Elves and Aliens

Nick Richardson, 2 August 2018

What if To The Stars exists because it’s safer to have Tom DeLonge let us believe in aliens with superior technology than it is to acknowledge that reality itself may be different from what we think...

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Consider the Lemur

Katherine Rundell, 5 July 2018

It is​ probably best not to take advice direct and unfiltered from the animal kingdom – but lemurs are, I think, an exception. They live in matriarchal troops, with an alpha female at...

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Short Cuts: Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba

Lana Spawls, 21 June 2018

On​ the morning of 18 February 2011 Jack Adcock, a six-year-old boy, was brought into Leicester Royal Infirmary with diarrhoea and vomiting. He died eleven hours later. The paediatric registrar...

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The Red Scientist

Oliver Hill-Andrews, 24 May 2018

The​ evolutionary biologist John Maynard Smith believed that his former supervisor J.B.S. Haldane ‘wasn’t an ordinary mortal’. Haldane moved between the fields of physiology,...

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Fermi’s Paradoxes

Steven Shapin, 24 May 2018

Enrico Fermi​ is just the latest in a long line of ‘last men who knew everything’. A handful of recent biographies claim the title for their subjects, which include the Renaissance...

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