Cordelia Fine: Delusions of Gender

Marion Cromb reviews the book that reveals the neurosexism all around us.

Gender stereotypes are extremely pervasive, but is there any truth to them? In ‘Delusions of Gender’, psychologist Cordelia Fine picks apart the notion that different behaviours of the sexes are somehow innate. With a comprehensive review of the scientific literature (over 80 pages of references!), Fine wittily debunks the essentialist notions found in pop science books with titles such as ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ and ‘Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps’. Continue reading “Cordelia Fine: Delusions of Gender”

The Troubling Truth of Trophy Hunting

Daniel Thomas explores the surprising potential benefits of trophy hunting.

There are many factors responsible for the dwindling populations of certain animal species, such as poaching and loss of habitat. Similarly, trophy hunting (the act of paying an agency to legally kill specific animals) can be a huge risk to animal populations, and has been known to receive a lot of attention in the media.
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Alex’s Adventures in Numberland

Proving maths can be fun, Sara Jebril takes us through the rabbit-hole of Alex Bellos’ book.

Place one grain of wheat on the corner square of a chessboard and continue doubling across adjacent squares. “How much wheat would you need to fill the final square?”, Alex Bellos writes. “If you started counting a grain of wheat per second at the very moment of the Big Bang 13 billion or so years ago, then you would not even have counted up to a tenth of 263 by now”.
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Boeing announce ‘lightest metal ever’

On 6 October, Boeing announced its development of a new metal named Microlattice, a material composed of 99.99% air, making it over a hundred times lighter than Styrofoam. Microlattice is a 3D open-cellular polymer structure which, according to Boeing, was modelled on that of bones – lightweight yet able to withstand large forces without breaking. While the outer layer remains rigid, the inside is composed of interconnected hollow tubes, each with walls nearing 100 nm thick, around a thousand times thinner than a human hair.
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The Future of Affordable Drugs

Imprimis Pharmaceuticals is striving to provide affordable, safe generic drugs in the US, starting with a cheaper alternative to Daraprim for treating infections in HIV-positive individuals. The manufacturing rights to Daraprim were purchased by Turing Pharmaceuticals in September, with prices rising from $13 to $750 overnight, provoking outrage from politicians and HIV/AIDS charities alike. Continue reading “The Future of Affordable Drugs”

Cuts to NASA’s Funding

October 1st saw a near complete shutdown of the US federal government, cutting funding to several major institutions.

The lapse in funding severely affected operations at NASA, with 97% of the agency’s 18,000 staff deemed non-essential.  The remaining staff were assigned to tasks deemed ‘mission critical’ such as ground based monitoring of the International Space Station.  A spokesperson said “NASA will be closely monitoring the impact of an extended shutdown to determine if crew transportation or cargo resupply services are required to mitigate imminent threats to life and property on the ISS or other areas”.

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Higgs Discovery Wins Nobel Prize

During the Nobel prize announcements last month, Professors Peter Higgs and Francois Englert were honoured for their independent formulations, in 1964, of what later became known as the Higgs field.

At the time of the discovery, the standard model of particle physics was in crisis. Despite being able to accurately predict the existence of multiple species of particles, the theory was unable to explain why the vast majority particles have mass.  The theory proposed by Higgs and Englert suggests the existence of a field that particles couple to at varying levels, resulting in them acquiring different masses.

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Relativistic Physics … and Manga?

How often have you wanted to learn whilst having fun? For some, fun comes in reading manga, a medium capable of tackling anything from bread making (Yakitate! Japan), the arts industry (Bakuman), even existential philosophy (Ghost in the Shell). But what if you could learn physics using manga? That is exactly what this book offers! It has all the charm of traditional manga, but is full of accessible demonstrations of relativity.

After hearing about a series of manga guides to physics, I rushed to the university library to find the ‘Manga Guide to Relativity’, and became hooked from the prologue. The book opens at the end of the school year, with the students going over their plans for the summer and a closing speech by the headteacher. Continue reading “Relativistic Physics … and Manga?”