Zombie Science – A pint with the living dead

This year’s Glasgow Science Festival opened with a hilarious blend of comedy and science, centered on zombies, one of the most prevalent fictional demographics of today’s media. Writer, comedian and theoretical zombiologist Dr. Austin is by now renowned for his unique style of communicating science to his unsuspecting audience. As head of the Zombie Institute … More

Catastrophic security flaw ‘Heartbleed’ affects 60% of the World Wide Web’s servers

A bug present for two years in a significant fraction of the web’s servers has potentially exposed sensitive information to everyone and anyone. On April 8th 2014, news started to spread that a critical security flaw had been discovered in software used to secure our connections with online banking, shopping websites, credit card transactions and … More

The History of the Metric System: from the French Revolution to the SI

One of the great under-appreciated stories of our growth in knowledge as a species is that of our development, in modern history, of a standardised mathematical language of measurement: the International System of Units, also known as the SI. Since at least the days of the 19th Century engineer Joseph Whitworth, who introduced some of … More

BICEP Curls: What the recent results mean for inflation, gravitational waves and multiple universes

A few weeks ago, on March 17th 2014, a press conference was called at Harvard University . Rumours flourished briefly, and then an announcement was made to great excitement. The BICEP2 experiment had detected B-mode polarisation in the cosmic microwave background . In response, a very small number of scientists working in a few very … More

theGIST Reports: Travels in Lands that Don’t Exist, a Presentation by Professor Iain Stewart

The cliché response to any mention of geology in everyday conversation is, “Rocks and stuff right? Boring!” Unfortunately and unjustly, this is the prejudice and barrier that Professor Iain Stewart must combat constantly as a presenter and academic of geology. Everyone including academics will recognize Prof. Stewart as “that telly presenter,” which even he, himself, … More

Down-sizing to upgrade: How nanomedicine might, eventually, revolutionise cancer treatment

Nanocarriers, often referred to as ‘nanoballoons’ or ‘nanobubbles’, have long been considered the next big thing in cancer treatment. Yet they haven’t delivered the revolutionising results scientists and doctors have hoped for – perhaps until now. A number of recent studies show exciting new insights about how nanocarriers can be used to selectively carry and … More

Operation on the Open Genome

What can genetic modification do for our health? Michaela Mrschtik examines how a novel DNA cutting tool paves the way for futuristic treatments of currently incurable diseases. New ‘DNA scissors’, called CRISPR/Cas or simply CRISPR, have taken the academic world by storm in the past two years. A growing number of studies demonstrate the huge … More

Transpoosions: The World Of Poo Transplants

Doctors, researchers and hospital bureaucrats have long sought a wonder drug; a cheap, readily available treatment for a multitude of conditions. It turns out that such a thing might just exist, and that it might well be poo. It sounds counter-intuitive, perhaps, given the fact that, well, it’s poo, but faecal microbiota transplants (FMT) are … More

The Brain Fog Behind Brain Fag: Mental Health Across the Globe

As a student, this picture may seem familiar: crouched over your coursework, you are struggling to concentrate on anything other than Facebook, never mind make sense of those scribbly black lines that you have produced so far (what does that even mean? how do you spell that again?). With eyes watering from the glaring screen, … More

Part 4: The Current State of Bitcoin and its Future

This article is part of a GIST series on Bitcoin. In part 1, we described the mathematics that underpins digital currencies like Bitcoin as well as the security of the web itself. In part 2, we went into more detail as to how Bitcoin works. In part 3, we discussed how Bitcoin attempts to keep … More

You look like you need a nap, Grandma!

Do you often feel sleepy by 10 in the morning? Are you reading this right now and stifling a yawn, even though this is only the second sentence? Well, I’m afraid it’s only about to get worse. Research at the University of Glasgow has been investigating, using animal models, how our sleep changes as we … More

Part 3: The Self-Regulation of the Bitcoin Network

This article is part of a GIST series on Bitcoin. In part 1, we described the mathematics that underpins digital currencies like Bitcoin, as well as the security of the web itself. In part 2, we went into more detail as to how Bitcoin itself works. In this part, we will discuss further solutions to … More