Author: Fergus Elliott

Science Editor | 19-20

We are social creatures. The popularity of social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have shown how much we want to show off and share with others. We aren’t the first to do this though, as new research has uncovered a social network in Lesotho from 33,000 years ago. Researchers were initially puzzled when they found prehistoric ornamental necklace beads made of ostrich eggs, around 1,000 km from the nearest ostriches. So how did they get there? 33,000 years ago, humans lived in tribal communities. It was important for them to maintain a relationship with their neighbours; this…

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Governments all over the globe are asking their citizens to practice ‘social distancing’, but what is it and how does it help? On March 11th, 2020 the World Health Organisation upgraded the COVID-19 outbreak to pandemic status, meaning that the virus had spread to a significant portion of the world. The virus behind the diseases, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (or more snappily, SARS-CoV-2), is highly infectious, spreading easily from person to person. COVID-19 is a new disease and scientists the world over are frantically developing a vaccine, but as of yet one has not been created. Our best…

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With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, a lot of us are doing a lot more sitting than before. But should we be sitting down at all? A study has highlighted the differences between how we and hunter-gatherer communities rest, and outlined how squatting may be the key to better health. Rest is good: it allows our bodies time to recover and repair, ready for the next task. We all know how important a good night’s sleep is for example. But sitting seems to be an exception with study after study finding links between extended periods sitting and various health…

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The state of the climate emergency has come to the forefront in recent years, no longer being a bolt-on issue and instead a centrepiece of news coverage, political manifestos, and public conscience. With experts warning of the rapidly approaching “point of no return”, some have turned to new technology for answers; but will this be enough to turn the tide? In 2019 the Welsh, Scottish and UK governments pledged to achieve a “net zero” emission of carbon by 2050. This would result in all carbon emissions being offset by tree planting, carbon capture and other techniques. But a report by…

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Some creatures are able to ‘pause’ ageing or be immune to its effects entirely. This phenomenon is known as ‘diapause’ and a team of researchers have finally uncovered some of it’s mechanisms in the African Killifish. This fish can pause its life processes in response to environmental threats such as its pond drying up. The embryos can halt their development for years, longer than the adult’s entire life expectancy. This has allowed the fish to survive annual droughts. The breakthrough came in revealing that this ‘pause’ has no effect on the fish’s future development, hinting that the processes halts the…

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In the last few days of 2019, a new virus appeared in Wuhan, China, and spread at a frightening pace. Since then the new coronavirus, which has since been given the official designation Covid-19, has been the subject of headlines all over the world. But what is this new illness, where did it come from, and how worried should you be? Covid-19 is a member of the coronavirus family, named after the likeness of their appearance to the sun’s corona under a microscope. The coronavirus family also includes influenza and the viruses that cause the common cold. Covid-19 has been…

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Twice a year, the UK jumps an hour forward or back due to the concept of Daylight Saving Time. The idea was originally coined by Benjamin Franklin to reduce the usage of candles but did not become widespread until the first World War, where countries either side of the line adopted it in a bid to reduce coal consumption. So is daylight saving an outdated idea, or still just as relevant today? Many countries ditched daylight saving after 1918, as the reduction in coal usage was no longer a priority. However, the 1970s energy crisis meant that the energy reduction…

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Seatbelts, body armour, crash test dummies and even spacesuits; recently it has been realised just how dangerous these things can be to many people. Why? They’re designed around traditionally male bodies, leaving women’s health at risk. For example, a recent paper focusing on body armour for female troops in the US army found that the ill-fitting protection encumbers movement, is uncomfortable to wear, and even leaves gaps which enemies can grab onto in hand-to-hand combat. The issue in designing new armour lies in the curves in the plates needed to better fit female troops. Lt. Col. Fran Lozano explained to…

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Two important Ukranian exports to Wales are to be combined to produce a drink which is sure to raise a few eyebrows. We’ve long been importing vodka, and since 1986 we’ve had a few years of importing radiation resulting from the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power station. Now scientists at the University of Portsmouth hope to combine these exports by making a vodka using ingredients from Chernobyl’s radioactive wasteland.  After the nuclear power plant exploded, a 30km exclusion zone was declared unfit for human habitation for twenty four thousand years. Three hundred and fifty thousand people were moved from…

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Tesco and ASDA have become the first retailers to sign up to trials with the National Grid, which will see their hundreds of thousands of aisles of fridges and freezers used as a ‘virtual battery pack’ to reinforce the UK’s electrical supply. The National Grid is responsible for managing and maintaining a steady supply of power to the entire UK. It is especially challenging to maintain this supply during times of ‘peak demand’ where the system’s capacity is pushed to its limits. If the Grid cannot supply sufficient power to an area, the network automatically disconnects to prevent damage to…

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Tuna is a staple of the student diet; cheap, easy and healthy… right? A study conducted by the University of California suggests that some students may be eating dangerous amounts of this fishy treat. Fifty four students had hair samples taken and were asked to keep a record of the number of meals containing tuna they had eaten each week. The hair samples were used to measure the levels of mercury, a heavy metal found in most fish, in the participants’ bodies. Out of the fifty four participants, 54% reported eating more than 3 meals of tuna a week, and…

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What’s the story behind the ‘fish tube’ meme? The Wooshh Passage Portal, or ‘Salmon Cannon’, has been used to transport thousands of fish safely over dams and other man-made obstacles. Like most fish, salmon stocks are in decline due to overfishing and man-made obstacles such as dams. Salmon migrate from the sea up freshwater rivers to ensure that their young have a safe place away from the many predators that patrol the oceans. Although they are famously proficient at surmounting waterfalls, they fall short at hundred meter high man-made dams. This is where the ‘Salmon Cannon’ comes into play. It…

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