Approved

Depths of imagination

WIND farms and solar-energy plants have the advantage that their fuel is free, but the disadvantage that the availability of that fuel may change from minute to minute. If they are to become the large-scale contributors to power generation that their boosters suggest, then cheap and reliable means of smoothing Read more…

By Brian Poncelet, ago
Approved

Tested, and found wanting

HALF of clinical trials do not have their results published. Those behind the TrialsTracker, a web tool created by the Evidence-Based Medicine Data Lab, at Oxford University, hope to change this. Using clinicaltrials.gov, an American database that covers 193 countries, Ben Goldacre and Anna Powell-Smith can track automatically whether results Read more…

By Brian Poncelet, ago
Approved

Having no truck with it

“AMATEURS talk strategy, but professionals talk logistics.” That military maxim’s latest consequence is the adoption by the world’s armed forces of three-dimensional (3D) printing on the front line. It will be a while before weapons robust enough for military use can be printed on demand (though civilian ones can be, Read more…

By Brian Poncelet, ago
Approved

Sexual cannibalism in spiders

Gone fishin’ ANIMAL mating can be a cruel and unusual process. Male bedbugs inseminate females by piercing their bellies and depositing sperm inside their paramours’ body cavities. Male chimpanzees and lions kill the suckling infants of females before mating with them, as this brings those females more rapidly into oestrus. Read more…

By Brian Poncelet, ago
Approved

Triumph or disaster?

THAT space flight is as much show business as science was confirmed on the evening of October 19th, when members of the ExoMars team put on the bravest of faces for a broadcast from their mission control in Darmstadt, Germany, about the arrival of the project’s craft at Mars. ExoMars Read more…

By Brian Poncelet, ago
Approved

Novel drugs for depression

IT STARTED out as LY110141. Its inventor, Eli Lilly, was not sure what to do with it. Eventually the company found that it seemed to make depressed people happier. So, with much publicity and clever branding, Prozac was born. Prozac would transform the treatment of depression and become the most Read more…

By Brian Poncelet, ago
Approved

Stopping bridge collapses

Scoured away ON AUGUST 2nd a century-old bridge carrying the road from Mumbai to Goa over the Savitri river collapsed (see picture), killing at least 20 people. The probable cause was that the river, swollen by monsoon rains, had scoured away the foundations of the bridge’s piers. Such erosion-induced collapses Read more…

By Brian Poncelet, ago