Evolution: History Repeating
February 21, 2013
WIND back the tape of life, Stephen Jay Gould once quipped, and the chance becomes vanishingly small that anything like human intelligence would grace the replay. Not everyone agrees. Matthew Herron and Michael Doebeli, from the University of British Columbia, challenge Gould’s logic, at least when it comes to bacteria.
Neutrinos and Solar Storms: And Now, the Space-Weather Forecast
August 23, 2012
RADIOACTIVE materials decay at a predictable rate—so predictable, in fact, that scientists widely use them to date artefacts and geological objects. That, at least, is the received wisdom, which Jere Jenkins and Ephraim Fischbach, from Purdue University in Indiana, think may need revising. In 2006 Dr Jenkins noticed that the decay rate of the radioactive isotope manganese-54 dipped 39 hours before a solar flare came crashing into Earth’s protective magnetic field. Now it seems that the sun might affect other types of decay, too.
Vaccine Technology: No Sow’s Ear
July 10, 2012
KEEPING drugs, and particularly vaccines, potent in tropical climes is a challenge. Heat tends to damage them. Such medicines have therefore to be passed from one refrigerator to another, along what is referred to as a cold chain, until they arrive at the clinics whence they are to be deployed. Fridges, however, are expensive. They also require electricity, which is not always available—or is available only unreliably—in the poorer parts of the world. As a consequence, breaks in cold chains are reckoned by the World Health Organisation to destroy almost half of the vaccines produced around the world.