Not Exactly Rocket Science

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One night of passion and you’re filled with a lifetime full of sperm with no need to ever mate again. As sex lives go, it doesn’t sound very appealing, but it’s what many ants, bees, wasps and termites experience. The queens of these social insects mate in a single “nuptial flight” that lasts for a…

In Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic story, Dr Henry Jekyll drinks a mysterious potion that transforms him from an upstanding citizen into the violent, murderous Edward Hyde. We might think that such an easy transformation would be confined to the pages of fiction, but a similar fate regularly befalls a common fungus called Fusarium oxysporum. A…

For most men, the thought of taking on the burden of pregnancy from their partners would seem like a nightmare, but it’s all part and parcel of seahorse life. After mating, female seahorses and pipefish lay their eggs into a special pouch in the male’s belly and he carries the developing babies to term. They…

A couple of nights ago, I discovered a blog by Canadian science journalist Colin Schultz, who is doing a series of interviews with eminent science journalists including Carl Zimmer, Nicola Jones, David Dobbs and Jay Ingram. They’re great reads and I especially liked the stark differences in the answers from Nicola Jones and Carl Zimmer,…

We all know that as we type on our keyboards or click our mice, we leave behind fingerprints that could be used to deduce our identities. But these prints aren’t the only remnants of our presence. Bacteria from our skins also linger on the things we touch and they could act as a sort of…

Not Exactly Pocket Science is a set of shorter write-ups on new stories with links to more detailed takes by the world’s best journalists and bloggers. It is meant to complement the usual fare of detailed pieces that are typical for this blog. The rewarding side of being a psychopath What goes on in the…

Take a whiff of mustard or wasabi and you’ll be hit with a familiar burning sensation. That’s the result of chemicals in these pungent foods hitting a protein called TRPA1, a molecular alarm that warns us about irritating substances. The same protein does a similar job in other animals, but rattlesnakes and vipers have put…

This article is reposted from the old WordPress incarnation of Not Exactly Rocket Science. For all the millions that are poured into electoral campaigns, a voter’s choice can be influenced by the subtlest of signals. Israeli scientists have found that even subliminal exposure to national flags can shift a person’s political views and even who…

Not Exactly Pocket Science is a set of shorter write-ups on new stories with links to more detailed takes by the world’s best journalists and bloggers. It is meant to complement the usual fare of detailed pieces that are typical for this blog. Geneticist sequences own genome, finds genetic cause of his disease If you’ve…

The animal on the right is no ordinary chicken. Its right half looks like a hen but its left half (with a larger wattle, bigger breast, whiter colour and leg spur) is that of a cockerel. The bird is a ‘gynandromorph‘, a rare sexual chimera. Thanks to three of these oddities, Debiao Zhao and Derek…