Damn, spider. Why you so hairy?

They may put Little Miss Muffet off her curds and whey – but a spider’s hairs are crucial to its survival. Many people suffer from arachnophobia, a treatable phobia of spiders. But what is scary about small, harmless animals? For many people, it is the extreme fuzziness of spiders that imbues such fear. Spider fuzz … More


The Eye of Sauron Galaxy reveals a new way to measure cosmic distances

Recently astronomers have been investigating the “Eye of Sauron” galaxy, also known as NGC4151. It’s a big spiral galaxy and these, like most galaxies, tend to have supermassive black holes in the middle. Supermassive black holes are the largest kind of black holes and tend to be as massive as thousands to billions times that … More


Nuclear Power: the How, the Pros and the Cons

We are entering into a nuclear renaissance in the West with new nuclear reactors being constructed here and many other places in Europe and America. As such, the debate on nuclear power is going to become a hot topic and a more scientific understanding is essential. This article will provide a series of arguments in … More


Smartphones keeping us awake

Feeling tired? Your smartphone might be to blame. Smartphones have become increasingly popular in recent years and almost two thirds of university students now own a smartphone [1]. However, owning a smartphone may come at a cost for this already sleep deprived population [2]. Various studies have linked the use of computers, television, gaming consoles … More


Green Chemistry: An Elegant Solution to an Avoidable Problem

Let’s save the environment. Pick up that litter; utilise public transport and help reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases; use energy-saving light bulbs; recycle! The above message, whilst an open invitation to everyone (and a very welcome one too), is particularly aimed at those interested or involved in synthetic organic chemistry, whether in an academic … More


Could your smartphone diagnose cancer?

In the developed world, cancer is the biggest killer of our age. Following many years of research and clinical experience, the current view is that early detection is the best possible means to tackle this formidable disease. If diagnosed and treated in the early stages, over 90% of patients survive beyond 10 years – this … More


Towards Gender Equality in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

  “So, what do you do?” It’s a question all of us ask and answer on a fairly regular basis, the default ice breaker when we’re introduced to a friend of a friend at a party or forced to make small talk at an event. “I’m an Athena SWAN Officer.” “Oh! Right…so is that like, … More


When Scientists Meet Journalists

Scientists are rubbish at communicating their research outside of academia; at least that is the opinion I took in an article I wrote for theGIST’s Science for Society conference article competition. But others must have also agreed, because it was voted overall winner on the day. However, the good news for scientists is that there … More


Finding the Origins of Life in Space

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, the University of Cologne and Cornell University, have recently discovered a molecule with an important structure. By analysing light from space using spectroscopy with a radio telescope array, isopropyl cyanide was identified within the star forming region Sagittarius B2. With a similar structure of carbons as … More


The Conservation Beauty Pageant

I will be the first to admit that I am a fan of all things cute and cuddly. Send me a snow leopard adoption pack any day of the week, but a spider conservation trust? No thank you! We have an astonishing array of creatures and all of them contribute towards the big ecological system … More


Dirty are the windows through which we see the Universe

BICEP2’s claim of a detection of primordial gravitational waves amounts to a dust bowl On Friday 14th March 2014, a rumour started to spread among scientists that the BICEP2 collaboration were due to announce something extraordinary in a press conference to be held on the following Monday. The day of the leak being a Friday … More


We came, we saw, we conferenced

theGIST’s Science for Society conference is now over! We had an excellent day discussing and deliberating evidence based policy and the role of science in public policy. It was enlightening, invigorating and most of all entertaining. We hope that you enjoyed it as much as we did. Below are some pictures from the day courtesy of … More