The University of Birmingham Robotics Club (UBRobotics) is just celebrating its second birthday. The club provides the opportunity for students from the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences to learn more about robotics, electronics and programming, and gives its members the chance to experience lots of varied robotics activities.
Continue reading “STEM Society Spotlight – UBRobotics”
Monosodium glutamate (or MSG as it is more commonly known) has long been slated as a dangerous food additive, having been speculated to cause the famous nausea and headache-inducing ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’ that some individuals suffer after eating Chinese food. But, is MSG really as bad as it’s been made out to be?
Continue reading “MSG: The Facts”
Recently, Japanese researchers at the National Institute of Informatics (NII) have managed to recreate fingerprints based on photos taken up to three metres away from the subject. High profile members of public, such as celebrities, would likely be at greatest risk of their biometric data being stolen this way, however, NII researcher Isa Echizen suggested that anyone’s fingerprints could be made widely available “just by casually making a peace sign in front of a camera”. As mainstream camera technology becomes more advanced, the practice of uploading pictures to social media will make more people susceptible to biometric data theft.
Continue reading “How Safe is Your Biometric Data?”
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.
Continue reading “The Troubling Truth of Trophy Hunting”
Anna Pitts addresses the pervasive cognitive conundrum head on.
It is a well-known opinion that humans only have access to around 10 percent of their true brain capacity, according to the popular media and urban legend. This idea has had a resurgence of interest in the past few years with the popularity of films such as “Limitless” in 2011 and “Lucy” in 2014. “Limitless” is based on the premise that if science was advanced enough, there could be a nootropic (cognitive enhancing) pill that opens up your brain capacity over the normal level (in this case they cite 20%) for humans.
Continue reading “The 10% brain capacity myth: separating logic from the popular culture phenomenon”
An Interview with Professor Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, Joanna Chustecki and Mel Jack with thanks to the EPS Community and Alumni Relations Office.
A cold autumnal night on campus and something incredible is happening in the Haworth building. Hundreds of students, postgrads, old friends, colleagues and members of the public have flocked to this well-established house of chemistry to hear one of the greatest chemists of our time talk. Professor Sir J. Fraser Stoddart to be exact. Within this huge crowd bustling to access the main lecture theatre stands a man who has published over 1,000 scientific papers, is one of the most cited chemists in the world, and has, on the 5th of October 2016, been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry ‘for the design and synthesis of molecular machines’.
Continue reading “The Father of Molecular Machinery: An Evening with Professor Sir J. Fraser Stoddart”
1’s and 0’s fly through the air,
The speed of light never too far,
I can call my toaster
And tell it to print a rose today.
The power running through the veins of my house
Is spun so far away,
I cannot hear the chimes of that wind,
Just the buzz in the world around me.
Continue reading “Distance”
Cat Collins ponders how suicidal attraction theory in rats and cats may lead to schizophrenia, personality changes and car accidents.
Nobody likes to feel like a puppet. The idea of freewill is something that is inherently connected to human nature, so the conflicting suggestion that human behaviour may be due to a number of parasites controlling your brain may disturb some. A rather extreme example of this in the animal world exists through the Lancet liver fluke, a parasite so desperate to access cattle liver it enslaves an ant, forcing it to climb blades of grass and be eaten. Many would like to believe that this is different for humans – human brains are incredibly complicated and could resist the mechanisms of a lowly parasite. Or can they?
Continue reading “Is ‘Crazy Cat Lady’ A Realistic Fear?”
Zidan Yang uses the latest advances in genome editing to unlock the secret memories of our cells.
Memory formation and storage, a notorious conundrum that human beings have been striving to understand for hundreds of years and still there is no definition universally accepted. Yet modern scientists embark on analysing memory at a digital and quantitative level. In the summer of 2016, biological engineers from MIT successfully devised an analogue memory storage machinery, which to some extent can shed new light on the interpretation of memory.
Continue reading “Analogue Memory Recording: Turn Your DNA Into a Hard Drive”
What maths defines natural beauty? Chyi Chung dives into the spirals of sunflowers to find out.
Sunflowers – no strangers to being muses in art – also fascinate the minds of mathematicians. Behold, heads of tightly-packed seeds, each framed by a mane of bright yellow petals. Look again, look closer and descend into their spiralling beauty.
Continue reading “Sunflowers: Spiralling in Control”