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Unexplainable astronomy? Part 2: Of pigeons and cosmic uniformity - By Sam Jarman Ask just about any scientist, and they will tell you that the very best discoveries they can make are the ones which force us to change how we think about the world completely. That’s exactly what happened…
H is for Holograms - By Siobhan Fairgreaves After a little summer break, welcome to the eighth post in this series- and today we’re going to be finding out more about Holograms. First things first- what even is a hologram, and where would we encounter…
G is for Gravity - By Siobhan Fairgreaves “Gravity pulls everything down” Wrong! Now we know what gravity doesn’t do- let’s take a look at what it does. Before I get too stuck in I’m going to clarify- we’ve all heard of gravity right? Just…
Unexplainable Astronomy? Part 1: The Wow! Signal -   By Sam Jarman Monday was dragging for Jerry R. Ehman, in a way that only a volunteer astronomer at the SETI project could truly understand. The frequency data printed out by the IBM 1130 computer was, as always, infuriatingly…
F is for Flying - By Siobhan Fairgreaves Don’t listen to Jon Snow, summer is coming! Whether you will spend your (hopefully) sunny days looking up at blue skies or jetting off on an adventure, one thing may cross your mind- how do those aeroplanes…
E is for Electricity - By Siobhan Fairgreaves Last time, in D for Detectors, we looked at some of the applications of physics that you might encounter during your day. In this post, we’re going to find out more about something I can guarantee you…
D is for Detectors - By Siobhan Fairgreaves So far in the series, we’ve looked at some big physics concepts, but now, we’re trying something a little different. In this post, we are going to have a look at some of the practical ways we…
Throat singing: a storm of sound on the steppes - By Sam Jarman The day dawns cold, clear, and still. A nomadic Mongolian herder knows that sound will carry well in these conditions, so he takes his chance. Climbing onto his horse, he rides into the wilderness, intent on finding…
C is for Collider - By Siobhan Fairgreaves In this post, we will learn a little more about the world’s largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Do you remember a few years ago when there was a lot of fuss about a black hole…
B is for Black Holes - By Siobhan Fairgreaves In our last post we looked at atoms and their subatomic particles. That’s the tiny end of physics, this time we look at something at the other end of the scale- black holes. Ooooo, now this is…
A is for Atom - By Siobhan Fairgreaves Never trust an atom- they make up everything! Terrible jokes are finished, for now…   In this post, we will look at the basic structure of the atom. But first, what are atoms? Atoms are the building…
Lionfish wreak havoc on marine ecosystems - By Roisin McDonough The lionfish, beautiful in appearance and un-problematic in their native regions of the Indo-Pacific have wreaked havoc as an invasive species in the Atlantic; having become well established  in the Southeast coast of the US, the Gulf of…
Touch nature - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh I touched a rhinoceros yesterday; it was pretty awesome. A real, live rhinoceros. His name is Shaka. He was big, warm, rough, and surprisingly docile. He seemed gentle and easygoing, but I was…
I’ve been doing it wrong - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh To rinse or not to rinse. That is the question. Or, more fully, when you brush your teeth, do you rinse the excess toothpaste out of your mouth with water? I’d never really…
Design, Naturally: Lateral lines provide a sixth sense for underwater robots - By Anwen Bowers Have you ever seen two fish bump into each other? The underwater world is an assault of sensory signals. Sound, for example from crashing waves, travels over twice as fast in water than it does in air.…
Introducing Sam Jarman: Editor-at-large for Rising Ape Collective - Veteran followers will have spotted the uptick in articles published on the RA site in the last couple of weeks. Now he’s got his feet under the WordPress dashboard, we can announce it’s all thanks to the efforts of Sam Jarman, the new editor for…
Design, Naturally: Precious pearls inspire super-strong glass - By Anwen Bowers Take a stroll through almost any art gallery and the cultural value of pearls as a status symbol through time is inescapable. From the intricately laced clothes in Elizabethan portraits to the long strings worn by chic…
Space is Big - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh I didn’t grow up by the sea, so every time I’m faced with an ocean, I get a true sense of awe. The sheer magnitude of the thing in front of me leaves me…
Language is Powerful - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh With the election of Donald Trump in November came a torrent of think pieces, op-eds, podcasts, Facebook posts, and tweets. Everyone had something to say and someone to blame. It was Hillary’s fault,…
Natural Cycles: Part 1 – The circle of life and waste - By Anwen Bowers The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a vast area in the Pacific Ocean where huge amounts of plastic and other slow-to-degrade waste has accumulated over the past half century. Rubbish from all the rivers in North America…
Design, Naturally: Wasps take the sting out of brain surgery - By Anwen Bowers “I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent & omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidæ with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars …” This statement from Darwin is often quoted…
Design, Naturally: Sharkskin V Superbugs - By Anwen Bowers Antimicrobial resistance is one of the biggest challenges faced by the healthcare industry. The evolution of superbugs such as MRSA is evidence that the arms race between antibiotics and bacteria is not a sustainable strategy for preventing…
Z is for Zeno - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh It’s early in the morning.  The caffeine from your morning cup of coffee has yet to fully kick in, but as you turn the corner, you see your bus.  It’s just pulling in…
Y is for You! - It’s been 25 weeks since we started this epic journey through the alphabet together, and sadly we are nearing the end.  At this critical juncture, just one letter away from the finality of zed, I thought I would bestow my…
X is for Xenophobia - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh A lot happened in the summer of 1954.  The world’s first atomic power station opened in Russia, Alan Turing committed suicide, the CIA set up a coup in Guatemala, food rationing finally ended…
V is for Vitruvian Man - This drawing, of a man contained within a circle and a square, is one of the most recognizable in the world.  It seems to fascinate people and has a way of transcending time and space to connect with its viewers.…
U is for Ununoctium and the Island of Stability - Quick, without looking it up: how many elements are there on the periodic table? If I had asked that question before the first hydrogen bomb exploded in 1952, the answer would have been 98.   In that year, humans succeeded in…
T is for Tardigrade - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh  Boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew.  They’re versatile! No, I’m not talking about taters.  I’m talking about tardigrades: quite possibly the most durable creatures on Earth. They might also be the…
stephen hawking right about nasty aliens Vegetarian aliens could save our bacon - By James Riley Bacon is tasty, very tasty. It’s so tasty that my moral objection to the industrial-scale murder of sentient animals dissipates with each and every ketchup-soaked bite. This is a weakness on my part. I’m theoretically ethical but…
R is for Ratzilla - An excerpt from my favourite scene in the 1987 film, the Princess Bride: Westley: Rodents of Unusual Size? I don’t think they exist. [R.O.U.S. attacks Westley] Westley: Ahhhh!!! Why is that my favourite scene?  Because I laugh every time I watch it. The R.O.U.S.…
Q is for Quokka - What’s half a metre long, weighs 3-4kg, and has the cutest face you ever did see? Nope, cuter. Even cuter. Yup, there it is!  This, dear readers, is a quokka.  A native of South west Australia, this marsupial has recently…
plant defences rising ape P is for Plant Defences - By Jonathan Farrow of the Thoughtful Pharaoh As the great glam metal band Poison sang in 1988, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn“. Like so many glam metal bands to grace the world’s stages before them, none of Poison’s members were botanists.…
O is for Ocean Acidification - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh We all know that CO2 emissions are warming the planet.  Or at least, most of us do.  What often goes unreported is the effect of carbon dioxide on the worlds’ oceans.  A lot of the CO2  that…
N is for Naming - By Jonathan Farrow of the Thoughtful Pharaoh Next time you happen to be walking though the Chamela-Cuixmala nature reserve on the West Coast of Mexico, keep your eyes out for this parasitoid wasp: Its scientific name is Heerz lukenatcha.  There is also…
M is for (exo)Moons - By Jonathan Farrow of the Thoughtful Pharaoh With this post, rising-ape.com is now caught up with my website, thoughfulpharaoh.  From now on, I will be posting articles simultaneously on both sites, on Wednesdays. Thanks to everyone for following along and…
L is for Loch Ness - By Jonathan Farrow from The Thoughtful Pharaoh Loch Ness, in the middle of the Scottish Highlands, has more fresh water in it than all the lakes and rivers in England and Wales combined.  It is neither the deepest lake in…
K is for Kepler - “Truth is the daughter of time, and I feel no shame in being her midwife.” Johannes Kepler These words, written by Johannes Kepler in 1611, are profound.  At the time, Galileo had just discovered the Galilean moons (including Europa) in Florence but was being…
J is for Jupiter’s Great Red Spot - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh If you look up in the night’s sky and point even a simple pair of binoculars at Jupiter, like Galileo did with a rudimentary telescope 405 years ago, you will see what he…
I is for Island Evolution - By Jonathan Farrow from The Thoughtful Pharaoh Unbeknownst to the rest of us, a debate has been raging in the world of biogeography.  The debate stems from a simple observation made by a young Canadian scientist in 1964: island animals are…
terry Pratchett is dead rising ape We were christened by Terry Pratchett… (sort of) - By Antony Poveda “Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.”– Terry Pratchett It was a torrential summer’s day in Bristol last year. James and I were taking three hours,…
H is for Helium - By Jonathan Farrow from The Thoughtful Pharaoh Say goodbye to foil floating hearts on Valentines, shimmering floating shamrocks on St. Patty’s, and the prospect of tying thousands of balloons to your house and abducting a neighbourhood boy scout.  The world’s Helium reserve…
G is for Gravity Waves - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh Deep in Antarctica, right on top of the geographic South Pole, there is a research station that peers back in time to the very beginning of our universe. Named the Amundsen-Scott Station, it…
F is for Faraday - By Jonathan Farrow from The Thoughtful Pharoah The year is 1791.  On a crisp autumn morning in South London, Margaret Hastwell, a blackmith’s apprentice, gives birth to her third son.  With her husband, son, and daughter crowded around, she decides to…
E is for Europa - By Jonathan Farrow from the Thoughtful Pharaoh Galileo Galilei is quite a famous astronomer but many of the discoveries he’s known for are just extensions of the work of others.  For instance, he didn’t come up with the idea that the…
D is for Dinosaur Evolution - By Jonathan Farrow from The Thoughtful Pharaoh When was the last time you ate dinosaur?  I had some just the other day, next to my peas and carrots. Shocking as it may seem, dinosaurs are all around us and we…
C is for Cat Feces - By Jonathan Farrow from The Thoughtful Pharaoh I’ve never been a cat person, myself.  They just seem a bit too contemptuous as a species. Cats, aside from being aloof, clawed, and kind of mean, also form a necessary part in…
Microbat Photo by Neal Foster B is for Bat Echolocation - By Jonathan Farrow from The Thoughtful Pharaoh Ever wish you could see in the dark?  It would make life a bit easier.  No more tripping over clutter on the ground or feeling walls for a switch.  Humans rely quite heavily on…
A is for Axolotl - This week the Thoughtful Pharaoh explores the life and times of the Peter Pan of the animal kingdom: the axoltl
rising ape Not Such a Slippery Slope - “It is important that legislation keeps pace with scientific progress.” Robert Winston A little breakthrough for medical research happened last week, not in the lab, but in the House of Commons. By a huge majority the commons voted to allow a…
Welcome to the new age of antibiotics - By Alex Hale “I have been trying to point out that in our lives chance may have an astonishing influence and, if I may offer advice to the young laboratory worker, it would be this – never to neglect an…
Homosexuality IS natural, (according to nature) - by James Riley One reoccurring argument constantly levelled against homosexuality is: “it’s just not natural.” Well, if you take a close look at nature, you’ll see that isn’t quite right. (Feature Image, Original Credit: Simon Speed) Animals partake in various same-sex…
zombies are real Zombies: The Theoretical Pathogenesis - by James Riley “When hell is full, the dead shall walk the Earth.” (Feature Image, Original Credit: Gianluca Ramalho Misiti) Are zombies real? To many people, the idea of a horde of ravenous zombies tearing through the nation is a…
Asimov’s Amazing Assertions - by James Riley “What will the World’s Fair of 2014 be like? I don’t know, but I can guess.” Could you predict the future? In the wake of the 1964 World’s Fair, Isaac Asimov, prolific sci-fi writer, made some startling…
Fracking: The Collision of Science and Politics - by James Riley Policy decisions are rarely made on scientific evidence alone. In fact, science has only a small part to play in the convoluted world of policy. In this light, perhaps it is unsurprising that even though we have…
The sun has got its spot on, hip-hip-hip-oh-no! - by James Riley Imagine having a giant spot moving across your face, making its way around the back of your head over a 27-day period. I’m sure most of us might start thinking about contacting the doctor (or even consider…
It’s not just a girl thing: A health crisis that’s being ignored - By Alex Hale A sex induced epidemic could be sweeping across the western world. 80% of people get some form of a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection at a point in their lives. This is one of the most common sexually…
Option or obligation: an opt-out donation issue - By Alex Hale “Every right implies a responsibility; Every opportunity, an obligation, Every possession, a duty”   John D. Rockefeller Not everyone wants to donate their organs. Sadly, in our aging, obese, drug addicted nation, the demand for organs is on…