How the birds and the bees help coffee plants

Shutterstock Sipping a coffee on your way to work is a ritual most people take for granted without thinking about how the delicious coffee beans reached their cup. You probably know it comes from tropical regions. But what is less well-known is that coffee is the product of an incredible partnership between the birds and the bees. A recent study researched how birds helped control pests and how bees helped pollinate coffee farms. The research showed how working with wildlife can help farmers make more money. But it is just one example of the benefits nature gives us that we…

Male dogs are more likely to develop contagious nose cancer from sniffing other dogs’ genitals

Normally we don’t think of cancer as an infectious disease – but what if we told you there is a contagious cancer, thousands of years old? This cancer is not, however, caused by transmission of a virus. These are cancer cells that can be physically passed on between dogs. In our new study we found that male dogs are four to five times more likely than female dogs to be infected with the oral and nasal form of canine transmissible venereal tumour (CTVT). The cancer cells are passed between dogs by sniffing other dogs’ genitals. Credit: Emma Werner. CTVT mostly…

Nasa considers sending swimming robots to habitable ‘ocean worlds’ of the Solar System

Realistic colour view of Jupiter's moon Europa. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute Nasa has recently announced US$600,000 (£495,000) in funding for a study into the feasibility of sending swarms of miniature swimming robots (known as independent micro-swimmers) to explore oceans beneath the icy shells of our Solar System’s many “ocean worlds”. But don’t imagine metal humanoids swimming frog-like underwater. They will probably be simple, triangular wedges. Pluto is one example of a likely ocean world. But the worlds with oceans nearest to the surface, making them the most accessible, are Europa, a moon of Jupiter, and Enceladus, a moon of Saturn. Cross-section through…

There are good reasons for a double shampoo – if you can avoid waste

An Italian town has banned the practice during a heatwave, but if done right it benefits hair and scalpGlobal consumption of water is growing twice as fast as the world’s population and droughts are affecting swathes of the planet. So it was no surprise that this week the mayor of an Italian town in Emilia-Romagna, which is experiencing a severe heatwave, banned hairdressers from shampooing their customers’ hair twice, saying it would save thousands of litres of water a day.As we all attempt to reduce waste, that additional shampoo at home or in the salon can seem like overkill. So…

How your brainwaves could be used in criminal trials

Roman Zaiets/Shutterstock American Kevin Strickland was exonerated after spending 42 years in prison for being wrongfully convicted of a triple murder in November 2021. His 1978 conviction was based on mistaken identification of an eyewitness. The eyewitness later said that police pressured her into identifying Strickland, and attempted to have her testimony recanted but failed. She died in 2015. Law enforcement agencies worldwide struggle with the unreliability of eyewitness identification and scarcity of physical clues at crime scenes. There is a wealth of evidence showing that mistaken eyewitness identification is a contributing factor in wrongful convictions. Police only collect physical…

Stephen Fry in defence of Extinction Rebellion

National treasure, actor and comedian Stephen Fry has made a statement in defence of Extinction Rebellion. He is calling the British public to support the movement. This video comes as Europe experiences record-breaking temperatures, which increase the risk of forest fires this summer across the continent. During the April 2022 Rebellion, we emphasised the need […] The post Stephen Fry in defence of Extinction Rebellion appeared first on Extinction Rebellion UK.

Struggling with positive thinking? Research shows grumpy moods can actually be useful

Even anger serves a purpose. TeodorLazarev/Shutterstock As psychiatry, which uses medical and biological methods to treat mental disorders, has largely overtaken psychotherapy, which relies on non-biological approaches such as conversation and counselling, psychotherapists have sought alternative challenges. One common approach is to focus on enhancing the happiness of mentally healthy people, rather than relieving the mental pain and trauma of those who are suffering. This is known as “positive psychology” and has recently expanded to accommodate not only psychologists, but also social workers, life coaches and new age therapists. But there is evidence to suggest the approach has a negative…

10 of the best UK wildlife weekends

Whether it’s walking or whale watching, put nature in the spotlight with a wonderful country breakDiscover the richness of Scotland’s wildlife on a week-long tour, focusing on the rewilding programmes that are opening up across the Highlands. The trip offers the chance to see red kites – recently reintroduced to the region – bottlenose dolphins and ospreys, as well as watching pine martens from a private hide. Visits to remote crofts include talks on rewilding and time with a ranger at the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve, home to white-tailed eagles and red deer. The trip can also be booked…

Five billion people can’t afford surgery – a team of innovators could soon change this

Gasless laparoscopic surgery performed by Dr Biju Islary using the RAIS system. Dr. Hampher Kynjing, Nazareth Hospital, Shillong, Author provided Have you or a loved one ever needed surgery? Imagine what your life would be like if you couldn’t have it. Billions of people around the world lack access to surgery because equipment and general anaesthesia are too expensive or unsuitable in their region. When we think about technological progress people tend to picture faster, shinier, more hi-tech upgrades of what we already have. But sometimes developers can have more impact by remodelling technology with cheaper and simpler versions. Our…

Evolutionary tree of life: modern science is showing how we got so much wrong

Flickr, CC BY If you look different to your close relatives, you may have felt separate from your family. As a child, during particularly stormy fall outs you might have even hoped it was a sign that you were adopted. As our new research shows, appearances can be deceptive when it comes to family. New DNA technology is shaking up the family trees of many plants and animals. The primates, to which humans belong, were once thought to be close relatives of bats because of some similarities in our skeletons and brains. However, DNA data now places us in a…

Curious Kids: what is cosmic microwave background radiation?

Yaroslav Vitkovskiy/Shutterstock What is cosmic microwave background radiation? Did it happen after the Big Bang? – Sreehari, aged nine, Kerala State, India The Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB for short), is light: the oldest and most distant light that we can see in the entire universe. It comes from soon after the Big Bang – which is considered to be the beginning of the universe. However, it isn’t made up of light that you or I are able to see with the naked eye. The type of light we can see is called visible light, but other types of light exist.…

Before chickens became food for people, they were regarded as special exotica

A modern cockerel with dramatic plumage Robert May, https://robertmay.photography/, Author provided There are more chickens than any other species of bird on the planet. With three chickens for every human being, they are a food staple for millions of people around the world. But new research shows chickens were domesticated only relatively recently and were once revered. The question of where chickens come from and how humans have interacted with them over time has eluded us for decades, until now. For many people it is difficult to think of chickens as anything other than food. But two new studies are…

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