By Jessica Hamzelou A similar process to the one breweries use to make alcohol can happen inside our bodiesurbancow/Getty A woman who urinates alcohol without having consumed any is the first person to be diagnosed with “urinary auto-brewery syndrome”. The condition is caused by yeast in the bladder, which ferments sugar in urine to produce…
Environment | Analysis 24 February 2020 By Adam Vaughan Giant pandas are no longer endangered thanks to conservation effortsStefan Huwiler/imageBROKER/Alamy Conservationists have long known that using pandas, tigers and other charismatic species to front their campaigns is a good way to raise money. But some have argued that focusing on these “flagship” animals can neglect…
Environment 20 February 2020 By Gege Li Indoor air pollution can be harmfulemi111 / Alamy Airing out our homes might not be as effective as we think. Chemicals released by cleaning or cooking can stick to walls, furnishings and other surfaces instead of wafting out when we open a window. “It’s quite a surprise,” says…
By Michael Le Page Many species of ant spray acid as a defence mechanismwww.pqpictures.co.uk/Alamy A number of ant species produce acid in a poison gland in their abdomen to spray at enemies, and it turns out they also drink it to kill pathogens in their food. Because these ants often vomit up food to feed…
By Bethan Ackerley Blue tits can learn what food to avoid from watching other birds on videoBlickwinkel/Alamy Blue tits and great tits can learn to avoid unpleasant foods without even tasting them. Seeing another bird’s disgusted response, even if it is just on video, helps them avoid unpalatable prey by recognising their markings. Liisa Hämäläinen…
Lab-grown meat could change the world for the better, but relying on the free market to develop it is a recipe for disaster. Governments must step up Environment | Leader 19 February 2020 Cristina Pedrazzini/SPL/Getty Images AS PEOPLE get richer, they tend to eat more meat. Global meat consumption has roughly doubled over the past…
By Jason Arunn Murugesu Takarkori shelter, a cave in the Sahara, was inhabited by ancient people who ate fish from long-gone lakesSavino di Lernia, 2020 The Sahara desert was once home to several species of fish, including tilapia and catfish, which were hunted by animals and humans alike. The fossil record shows that the fish…
Comment | Comment 13 February 2020 By Adam Kucharski Maths can help better understand the spread of the new corona virusXiao Yijiu/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images Back in mid-January, the current coronavirus outbreak was merely an unusual cluster of pneumonia cases. At least, that is what the tally of 41 confirmed infections in the Chinese city…
By Jessica Hamzelou Benzodiazepine drugs tend to be prescribed for anxietySasimoto/iStockphoto/Getty Images Benzodiazepine drugs are prescribed at about 66 million doctor appointments a year in the US, according to a report by the US National Center for Health Statistics. This means that for every 100 adults that visit an office-based doctor over the course of…
By Clare Wilson Gwyneth Paltrow is the owner of alternative health company GoopAdam Rose/Netflix Psychic readings, energy healing and vampire facials are just a few of the adventures had by actor and alternative health guru Gwyneth Paltrow and her team in her forthcoming Netflix series The Goop Lab. Goop, Paltrow’s natural health company, has already…
Technology 16 January 2020 By David Hambling Andy Dean Photography/Alamy Stock Photo Mysterious drone swarms have been seen flying in Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming at night since December, sometimes over locations believed to house nuclear missile silos. A federal task force has been formed to investigate the drones’ origin and purpose. The Phillips County Sheriff’s…
Environment 16 January 2020 By Leah Crane Microsoft aims to remove more carbon from the environment than it emits by 2030Robert Evans/Alamy Stock Photo Microsoft has big climate ambitions. On 16 January, the company announced an initiative to remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it and its suppliers emit annually by 2030. Company…
Technology 16 January 2020 By Jason Arunn Murugesu Flying highLentink Lab/Stanford University A robot that resembles a pigeon and can make tight turns like real birds may point to the future of aerospace engineering – a continuously morphing wing. Understanding exactly how birds fly has always been tricky, because individual wings are made up of…
By Michael Le Page Fossils of trilobites, one of the species diminished but not lost during the Devonian periodKevin Schafer/Alamy Stock Photo The best record yet of how biodiversity changed in the distant past has been created with the help of machine learning and a supercomputer. Among other things, it confirms that one of the…
Environment 15 January 2020 By Adam Vaughan The bushfire smoke has spread around the globeNASA Thunderstorms generated by the Australian bushfires are very likely to have pumped as much smoke into the stratosphere as a volcanic eruption. Blazes across the country in the past few weeks have been so intense they have generated their own…
By Donna Lu It’s alive!College of Engineering and Applied Science at Colorado University Boulder A type of living concrete made from bacteria could one day help to reduce the environmental impact of the construction industry. Wil Srubar at the University of Colorado Boulder and his colleagues have used a type of bacteria, Synechococcus, to create…