Not Exactly Rocket Science

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The Not Exactly Pocket Science experiment continues after the vast majority of people who commented liked the pilot post. I’m really enjoying this, for quite unexpected reasons. It’s forcing me to flex writing muscles that usually don’t get much of a workout. Writing short pieces means being far more economical with language and detail than…

We’ve all heard about “beer goggles”, the mythical, invisible eyewear that makes everyone else seem incredibly attractive after a few pints too many. If only beer had the reverse effect, making the drinker seem irresistibly attractive. Well, the good news is that beer does actually do this. The bad news is that the ones who…

The bacterial zoo in your bowel

You are outnumbered by a factor of 10 to one, by forces you cannot see. Your body has around ten trillion cells, but it’s also home to a hundred trillion bacteria. For every gene in your genome, there are 100 bacterial ones. Most of these are found the dark, dank environment of your bowel but…

Hold your arms out with your palm oriented vertically, as if you were trying to shake someone’s hand. Now without moving your forearm, bend your hand downwards towards the floor.  Unless you are freakishly flexible, you will only have managed to a measly acute angle. But if you were a bird, you could bend your…

I’m trying something new. Right from the start, I’ve always tried to write fairly long and detailed write-ups of new papers but this means that on any given week, there are always more stories than time and my desktop gets littered with PDFs awaiting interpretation. So, I’m going to start doing shorter write-ups of papers…

Snakes have been around for nearly 100 million years and scientists have found many fossils of extinct species. But this astonishing specimen is different. This serpent is Sanajeh indicus. It is sitting in a dinosaur nest and its coils surround three eggs and the body of a hatchling. There are many reasons to think that…

Souvenir shops in South Africa are full of lamps made out of ostrich eggs. The eggs are so big and strong that you can carve and cut intricate designs into their shells. The egg’s contents are emptied through a hole and a bulb can be inserted instead, casting pretty shadows on walls and ceilings. The…

Quicker feedback for better performance

We’ve all experienced the agonising wait for feedback, whether it’s for exam grades, news from a job interview, or results from a grant application. These verdicts can have a massive influence in our lives but they can often take weeks or even months to arrive. And that’s a big problem, according to Keri Kettle and…

Wow. The nominations for the first ever Research Blogging Awards are in! The awards were created to “honor the outstanding bloggers who discuss peer-reviewed research”. Nominations were sent in by readers and an panel of judges have selected the finalists. Voting begins in a week’s time and bloggers who are registered with the community can…

The hidden face codes of fish

Take a look at these two fish. At first glance, they seem incredibly similar but in fact, they belong to two separate species. The one on the top is an Ambon damselfish (Pomacentrus amboinensis) and the one on the bottom is a lemon damselfish (P.moluccensis). If the distinction is hard for us to grasp, it’s…