Blog Archives

Your dog can remember more than you think

Your dog can remember more than you think

Any dog owner will tell you how smart they think their dog is. What we usually think of as smartness in dogs is measured or observed in their external behaviour. Being able to respond to commands, for example, or remember the location of a hidden toy. Scientists have long wondered whether what underlies “smart” behaviour […] … learn more→

Introducing the terrifying mathematics of the Anthropocene

Introducing the terrifying mathematics of the Anthropocene

Here are some surprising facts about humans’ effect on planet Earth. We have made enough concrete to create an exact replica of Earth 2mm thick. We have produced enough plastic to wrap Earth in clingfilm. We are creating “technofossils”, a new term for congealed human-made materials – plastics and concretes – that will be around […] … learn more→

Should scientists engage in activism?

Should scientists engage in activism?

Have you heard that scientists are planning a march on Washington? The move is not being billed as a protest, but rather as a “celebration of our passion for science and a call to support and safeguard the scientific community,” although it comes as a direct response to recent policy changes and statements by the […] … learn more→

Defining dual-use research: When scientific advances can both help and hurt humanity

Defining dual-use research: When scientific advances can both help and hurt humanity

Scientific research can change our lives for the better, but it also presents risks – either through deliberate misuse or accident. Think about studying deadly pathogens; that’s how we can learn how to successfully ward them off, but it can be a safety issue too, as when CDC workers were exposed to anthrax in 2014 […] … learn more→

How to build a more organic internet (and stand up to corporations)

How to build a more organic internet (and stand up to corporations)

Internet access has become such a necessary tool for participating in society that it has been declared a “human right” by the UN. Alas, it is a human right not granted to 60% of the world’s population. To bridge this gap, big corporations such as Facebook or Google portray themselves not only as service providers, […] … learn more→

How Florida is helping train the next generation of cybersecurity professionals

How Florida is helping train the next generation of cybersecurity professionals

Our increasingly connected and digital world is vulnerable to attack and needs more skilled professionals who know how to defend it. As connected devices proliferate, particularly smart devices creating what has been called the “Internet of Things,” the problem is getting worse. In 2016, there were 6.4 billion connected devices in use in homes and […] … learn more→

Helping universities combat depression with mobile technology

Helping universities combat depression with mobile technology

Depression is the leading mental health issue on college campuses in the U.S. In 2015, a survey of more than 90,000 students at 108 American colleges and universities found that during the previous year, more than one-third of them had felt so depressed at some point that it was difficult to function. More than two-thirds […] … learn more→

How to quickly spot dodgy science

How to quickly spot dodgy science

I haven’t got time for science, or at least not all of it. I cannot read 9,000 astrophysics papers every year. No way. And I have little patience for bad science, which gets more media attention than it deserves. Even the bad science is overwhelming. 700 papers are retracted annually, and that’s a gross underestimate […] … learn more→

Three ways Facebook could reduce fake news without resorting to censorship

Three ways Facebook could reduce fake news without resorting to censorship

The public gets a lot of its news and information from Facebook. Some of it is fake. That presents a problem for the site’s users, and for the company itself. Facebook cofounder and chairman Mark Zuckerberg said the company will find ways to address the problem, though he didn’t acknowledge its severity. And without apparent […] … learn more→

Science wars in the age of Donald Trump

Science wars in the age of Donald Trump

If Brexit signified the end of facts, what does the election of Donald Trump tell us? Apparently, a new battle in the history of the science wars. But the alleged “end of facts” is the result of a superficial understanding of the deeper crisis in the role of science and expertise. So this new episode […] … learn more→