Category Archives: Topical Science

This is where we blog about science issues from the news and popular culture. Topics range from stem cell research and seasonal science to astro physics and everything in between.

Put your New Year celebrations on hold, just for a second

Are you looking forward to seeing in the New Year? Well, you will have to wait a bit longer than you may have expected. A leap second will be added at midnight on 31 December 2016 to keep atomic clocks in sync with the Earth’s rotation.

Universal Coordinated Time is based on super-accurate atomic clocks and it is extremely regular.… Read more

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Cheers to Louis Pasteur!

As you eat another helping of the never-ending turkey which seems destined to last all the twelve days of Christmas and pop the cork on yet another bottle of plonk, remember Louis Pasteur who was born on 27 December 1822. His work on fermentation, spoilage, decay and disease laid the foundations for our modern understanding of microbiology…

Prior to Pasteur, people had strange ideas about what caused the fermentation of wine and beer.… Read more

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Book review: The Darkest Dark by Astronaut Chris Hadfield

This post is guest written by Life’s Education Officer, Liz Ferguson, with the help of her two children.

Having met Chris Hadfield earlier this year on his visit to Life I was excited to find he has recently written a book for children. The Darkest Dark is a story about a little boy (Chris) who doesn’t like the dark and is afraid to go to bed.Read more

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The Road to Dolly

This post has been guest authored by Lyle Armstrong, Professor of Cellular Reprogramming at the Institute of Human Genetics, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, based at the Centre for Life.

5 July 2016 is the 20th anniversary of a rather special sheep called Dolly. Created at the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh, the road to Dolly began in Germany in the first years of the 20th Century.Read more

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Look out for the big Red Planet this week..

“The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one” he said.

In H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds Mars gets bigger in the sky as a prelude to invasion by horrific mechanical tripod aliens. So as Mars makes its closest approach to Earth for over a decade on 30 May 2016, should we be worried?Read more

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We hope you won’t be wearing gloves this leap year

29 FebruaryWatch out for women wearing gloves on 1 March this year.. they may be hiding the fact that their proposal was turned down on 29 February.

There’s enormous mythology around the extra day at the end of February that we celebrate every fourth year. The rarity of leap days makes them special but why are they included in the calendar at all?Read more

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Cosmonauts: Dreaming of Space

Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space AgeThis is a tale of dreams, war and propaganda. This is a tale of nations, people and technology. This is the cold, the dark, the silence. This is space. Or at least, the tiny bit we’ve visited so far.

Many of us dream of going to space. I’d be the first to admit that I’m currently just a little bit obsessed with human spaceflight.Read more

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When is a planet not a planet?

This post was guest authored by Life Science Explainer Claire Elstob. 

Out in the farthest reaches of our solar system lies a region known as the Kuiper Belt. This disc-shaped area of icy, dark objects lies out beyond Neptune, about 30 times further from the Sun than the Earth is. The small celestial bodies out there are thought to be remnants from when the solar system first formed and, as such, may tell us about our cosmic origins.Read more

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A weapon for a more civilised time

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…


With the increasing excitement surrounding the new film, (and boy, it might just be a doozy!) I thought I would address the most important point about Star Wars.

A quick poll of the office found that the first thing most people think of when hearing the words ‘star’ and ‘wars’ is lightsabers.… Read more

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Space 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Space Travel, Astronauts and the ISS

Destination SpaceI’m not a scientist. I’m not an astronomer or an astrophysicist, and I’m certainly not an astronaut. I do, however, think space is super cool. So earlier this year when I was asked to visit the National Space Centre in Leicester for a briefing about a project called Destination Space, I was pretty excited.Read more

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