The Guardian | Science.+Add.Feed Info1000FOLLOWERS
The Guardian's blog on scientific research and controversies, written by their reporters and guest contributors. The Guardian's website is the best source of latest news, opinion, analysis and reviews.
How do our bodies regulate themselves – and is it even true that we have a single body temperature? New technology will tell us
I’m one of those people who always feels cold. Maybe it’s my upbringing in the chilly north, or maybe it’s down the quirks of my own physiology, but I’m reliably found next to the fire, hiding from draughts that no-one else had noticed, or buried inside enough jumpers to stock a small shop. At the other end of the scale, when everyone else is sweating buckets, I’m basking smugly because I’m finally at a comfortable temperature.
Like most of us, my attitude towards my body temperature is similar to Goldilocks’ attitude to porridge – it’s either too cold, too hot, or 37C, which is just right. But I’ve rarely considered the fascinating details of exactly how our bodies regulate their temperature, and whether it’s even true that we have a single body temperature anyway.
People tend to be misinformed about stammering. Here’s why finishing my sentences or telling me to ‘slow down’ doesn’t help
I’ve heard the misconceptions for most of my life.
“Just slow down,” a stranger told me as a child. “You’re talking too fast – that’s why you stutter!” Later on, as my stutter carried on into adolescence and adulthood, strangers and loved ones alike offered up their own judgments of my speech –usually incorrect. Some have good intentions when it comes to sharing their opinions about my stutter. Others ... not so much. But everyone shares one defining characteristic: they’re misinformed.
Understanding causal inference, one aspect of philosophy of science, is key to making our research reliable
… the worst part of philosophy is the philosophy of science; the only people, as far as I can tell, that read work by philosophers of science are other philosophers of science.”
This is the view of Arizona State University physicist Lawrence Krauss, author of the 2012 book A Universe from Nothing. He is certainly not the only physicist to be critical of the philosophy of science. Richard Feynman, who shared the 1965 Nobel prize in physics for his work on quantum field theory, claimed that the “philosophy of science is as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds”. It’s quite a stance. In a recent commentary in Nature, we describe how a better understanding of one aspect of the philosophy of science, namely causal inference, can help us be better scientists.
A researcher’s diving holiday lead to a startling discovery of never-before-seen behaviour: crabs using hydrozoans as fishing hooks
Every night as the sun goes down, on the coral reefs of the Red Sea small, delicate and slightly fuzzy-looking crabs work their way through the maze of coral. They take up stations atop the corals’ outermost structures, exposing themselves to the current in the plankton-rich waters. These are decorator crabs, of the genus Achaeus, known for their peculiar habit of covering themselves with an array of invertebrates, including delicate hydrozoans: multi-headed creatures with tiny tentacled polyps that feed on plankton.
In a recent paper published in the journal Marine Biodiversity, Dr Joan J Soto Àngel, from the University of Valencia, suggests that the crabs are not only benefitting from the camouflage and defence the hydroids provide, but are also “fishing”, using their covering of hydrozoan polyps as the hooks.
There is often more pressure for scientists to work against each other than together – but why?
In an ideal world, academic scientists would work together towards a common goal: discovery. Researchers would unite for a common cause, motivated by boundless curiosity, working selflessly towards the Greater Good.
While the pursuit of knowledge may be a noble thing, it’s not actually that different from any other occupation, in that it requires a salary. Many scientists must apply for government grants to secure the funding that pays them, as well as to cover the costs of research projects.
Ticks carry a wide array of pathogens – and environmental changes mean they are spreading
Since the beginning of our species we have been at war. It’s a continuous, neverending fight against the smallest of adversaries: armies of pathogens and parasites. As we have developed new ways to survive and stop them, they have evolved ever more complex and ingenious methods to thwart our efforts.
Humans have faced numerous attempts to challenge our dominance on planet Earth , and from the Black Death to the Spanish flu, we have weathered them all. However, since the start of the 21st century, with its trend towards global interconnectedness, these onslaughts are ever-increasing. In the past 17 years we have battled Sars, the Ebola virus, Mers, and more recently the mysterious mosquito-borne Zika virus. These diseases seeming to appear from nowhere and rapidly ravage our populations. One commonality is that they almost always originate in animals before jumping across to people, and few parasites are as good at jumping between animals and people as the tick.
Furthermore, the model also sheds light on many mysteries surrounding the climate of the lands of Westeros and Essos – including the likely hibernation zones of White Walkers and the similarities between The Wall and Lapland.
Gamagori city in Japan was put on alert this week after toxic fish went on sale in a local supermarket. Pufferfish are considered a delicacy in Japan, often eaten raw as shashimi or cooked in soups. But if the fish are not carefully prepared they can be deadly.
The supermarket in Gamagori failed to remove the liver from the fish before putting them on sale, and unfortunately the liver is one of the organs that can harbour the potent neurotoxin tetrodotoxin. In an effort to recall the potentially poisonous fish sold, loudspeakers across the city have been warning citizens of the danger; at the time of writing, three of the five packs of fish sold had been traced.
The countdown has begun to send humans to Mars. But what it will take, what we have already planned for – and is it really possible that we’ll be ready?
If you ever wanted to visit Mars, 2018 would be a really great time to go.
In July this year, the Earth and Mars will come closer than at any other point in the last 15 years. They will be in perihelic opposition, meaning Mars will reach the nearest point in its elliptical orbit while the Earth simultaneously passes directly between Mars and the sun.