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August 2012

Welcome to the blog, you can read all about the latest news for the sections and take a look in our archive. Scroll through the latest posts below, or select a section from the dropdown.

Have you ever noticed how regular nature can be; that there are patterns hidden everywhere? Sea shells have a nice spiral pattern, trees show subtle fractal patterns, and some plants have their petals arranged in a very specific way. But some patterns are a lot more obvious. Take the zebra for example, the black-and-white striped cousin of the horse.

What do you get if you put Aberdeen, the British Science Festival, and dwarf elephants together? Isn’t it obvious? Hugh Falconer.

What do you mean you’ve never heard of Hugh Falconer? The man who was instrumental in introducing tea plantations to India? The man who, in 1842, brought back five tons of fossil bones to the UK from Pakistan and India, fossils which would eventually form a core part of the Natural History Museum’s collections? The man who Stephen J. Gould claimed was the first scientist to anticipate the evolutionary theory of punctuated equilibrium? Not ringing any bells? Poor Hugh Falconer – one of the most respected scientists of his day, but now he is largely forgotten."

Neurons in the brain - illustration Image credit: Benedict Campbell. Wellcome ImagesWith neuroscience technology advancing at an unprecedented rate, scientists are getting a much more detailed view of what it is that makes our brains tick. But the deeper they go, the more they discover that our brains run mostly on chemical and electrical signals. Does this mean that we are just machines running on electricity? Do we still have free will? This is an age old question that philosopher Professor Barry Smith, Director of the Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London is trying to understand, and he spoke to Julie Gould about his views on the philosophy of the mind.

Energy can never be created or destroyed. Instead, we convert it from one form to another. We convert electrical energy to heat energy in our toasters and we convert wind energy to electrical energy using wind turbines. But what about the energy that our own bodies produce, is there an efficient way of harvesting it?

We eat our dinners, which are digested into their basic components (sugars, carbohydrates, proteins etc.) to produce chemical energy. We then convert this chemical energy into useful energy to go about our everyday lives. "

Crime committed

Holes have been punched in our Ozone layer; a layer of highly concentrated O3 in the Earth’s stratosphere.

Time of crime committed

Holes were first detected in 1974 and their size has been increasing ever since.

Did you brush your teeth this morning? Did you flush the loo? Did you have breakfast? I’m going to assume you did all these things and a lot more, if not, then I hope for your sake and those around you, that you’re still in bed. But did you think about the water you used when doing them?