Guest Work

Air pollution exposure is shifting from outdoor to indoor – here’s why

Guest Author Aug 03, 2021

Nicola Carslaw, University of York and David Carslaw, University of York   You may have seen the before-and-after-lockdown photos of major cities that appear to show dramatic changes in air quality. In one, the India Gate war memorial in New Delhi is barely visible amid the smog. Then, during lockdown, it’s clearly visible in its red Bharatpur stone grandness. Read More

Militaries plunder science fiction for technology ideas, but turn a blind eye to the genre’s social commentary

Guest Author Jul 28, 2021

Will Slocombe, University of Liverpool   Military planning is a complicated endeavour, calling upon experts in logistics and infrastructure to predict resource availability and technological advancements. Long-range military planning, deciding what to invest in now to prepare armed forces for the world in thirty years’ time, is even more difficult. One of the most interesting tools for thinking about future … Read More

Gender-specific health programs address important issues, but risk creating new biases

Guest Author Jul 27, 2021

Matthew Jenkins and Victoria Chinn, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington   Gone are the days when health programmes were designed to simply punish or reward people to encourage behaviour change. We now know lasting behaviour change is more complex and nuanced, and this has prompted a proliferation of programmes that attend to factors like motivation, confidence, social … Read More

Plant-based burgers: should some be considered ‘junk food’?

Guest Author Jul 09, 2021

Richard Hoffman, University of Hertfordshire   Plant-based diets have surged in popularity during the past few years. As a result, there’s been a boom in demand for plant-based alternatives to favourite foods – including meats, such as sausages and burgers. The plant-based meat alternatives industry is projected to see massive growth over the next few years. But there is … Read More

Why do cauliflowers look so odd? We’ve cracked the maths behind their ‘fractal’ shape

Guest Author Jul 09, 2021

Etienne Farcot, University of Nottingham   Have you ever stared at a cauliflower before preparing it and got lost in its stunningly beautiful pattern? Probably not, if you are in your right mind, but I reassure you it’s worth a try. What you’ll find is that what at first sight looks like an amorphous blob has a striking regularity. If … Read More

Smoke screens: vaping on film looks less glamorous than the Hollywood smoking of yesteryear

Guest Author Jul 07, 2021

Becky Freeman, University of Sydney and Christina Watts, University of Sydney   The murder investigation hits another dead end. Tired and frustrated, the detective stomps out of the station. She stares into the middle distance, forcefully sucking on a vape and expelling smoky puffs. Actor Kate Winslett has smoked on screen before, but not like this. The tobacco and entertainment … Read More

Fungal infections worldwide are becoming resistant to drugs and more deadly

Guest Author Jun 29, 2021

Rodney E. Rohde, Texas State University   Say “fungus” and most people in the world would probably visualize a mushroom. But this fascinating and beautiful group of microbes has offered the world more than just foods like edible mushrooms. Fungi are also a source of antibiotics – for example, penicillin from Penicillium – as well as the yeasts and other … Read More

Prehistoric creatures flocked to different latitudes to survive climate change – the same is taking place today

Guest Author Jun 29, 2021

Emma Dunne, University of Birmingham and Bethany Allen, University of Leeds   Life on Earth is most diverse at the equator. This pattern, where species biodiversity increases as we move through the tropics towards the equator, is seen on land and in the oceans, and has been documented across a broad range of animal and plant groups, from mammals … Read More

How a virtual placenta could help with early detection of at-risk babies

Guest Author Jun 25, 2021

Alys Clark, University of Auckland and Jo James, University of Auckland   None of us would be here without our placenta, the remarkable fetal organ that nourished and sustained us before birth. But despite its importance, the placenta is among the least studied organs and we don’t fully understand how it grows and functions. This is problematic, because in one … Read More

Friday essay: a rare bird — how Europeans got the black swan so wrong

Guest Author Jun 11, 2021

David Haworth, Monash University   The black swan is an Australian icon. The official emblem of Western Australia, depicted in the state flag and coat-of-arms, it decorates several public buildings. The bird is also the namesake for Perth’s Swan River, where the British established the Swan River Colony in 1829. The swan’s likeness has featured on stamps, sporting team … Read More