Ah, I see you have stumbled upon my profile page — lovely to meet you!
I am not (as the picture above might suggest) a miniature woman with plastic hair.
I am, in fact, a real human (see my profile picture if you’d like proof).
I do have freckles and need glasses to see anything more than about a metre away, so the Lego lady and I have much in common in that respect.
I also love to peer into the science of how things work and write about it. …
A virus’ ability to cause disease is often termed its ‘virulence’.
A commonly held belief is that viruses tend to decrease in virulence over time. For example, HIV, a highly virulent pathogen, the virus responsible for acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), is thought to be becoming less deadly, partly due to the evolutionary pressure exerted by the use of antiretroviral drugs.
The ‘law of declining virulence’ is attributed to Theobald Smith, an American scientist who communicated his ideas on the subject in the late 1800s.
In a nutshell, Smith’s ‘law of declining virulence’ proposes that pathogens, such as viruses, become…
There was an annular solar eclipse last week and I didn’t even notice.
The partial eclipse on the 10th of June 2021 was visible from much of the Northern Hemisphere. It was a busy, cloudy Thursday in my corner of the UK, and, as just a small part of the sun slipped behind the shadow of the moon, I don’t recall seeing, or feeling, anything strange.
In March 2015, the UK saw another solar eclipse — this one, at 95% totality, I’ll never forget.
Being a self-confessed science geek, I constructed a DIY pinhole projector, where I could safely view…
For someone that calls herself a ‘foodie’, my wine knowledge has been (sadly) lacking.
Of course, plenty of ‘foodies’ enjoy great food without wine, beer, or any alcoholic accompaniment, but I genuinely enjoy many wines and appreciate how they can complement many dishes.
But, as my family will tell you, I don’t enjoy all red wines; there have been many times where I have screwed my nose up at a so-called ‘beautiful’ (and sometimes quite expensive) bottle.
It has become a bit of a joke in our house.
For my PhD, I studied the molecular evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria; you could say that I’m no stranger to mutants.
For any given field, there is a myriad of terminology, and, if that isn’t difficult enough, the exact meaning of the same term can differ, depending on your particular specialism.
Throw into the mix the fact that there is a pandemic and we all need to be armchair-virologists — it’s enough to give anyone a headache, including me.
It’s May 1937, a passenger airship, the ‘Hindenburg’, of the German Nazi fleet, carries passengers to New Jersey, USA. Seven million cubic feet of hydrogen keeps the magnificent ship afloat; like its elemental sister helium, hydrogen is less dense than air.
Did you know that lobster was once only fed to the prisoners and the poor? For any half-decent 17th Century American, the prospect of eating this particular crustacean, it seems, would be akin to stuffing one’s face with a can full of tripe.
My apologies to any ardent tripe fans out there.
My point here, dear reader, is that our taste for certain foods is dominated by culture, which — like the penchant for flared trousers — can substantially change over time.
Food culture, of course, also varies globally. Eating insects, (‘entomophagy’) is no exception. About two thousand species of…
Imagine you are playing a party game. The aim is simple: distribute the marbles you have in your pocket to as many other party-goers (with outstretched hands) as possible, all within an allotted time.
But what if some of the party-goers put their hands in their pockets? Or are busy using their mobile phone? It’s going to be much harder to give them a marble quickly. You can still pass out quite a few marbles in the allotted time, but not as many as before.
2 am draws near, and apart from the usual hard-core set, most people…
In March 2020, the UK was waking up to the realities of the emerging pandemic, as well as the consequences of Brexit.
It was all rather frantic, shelves were bare, and supermarkets had to rely on a sort of rationing system to ensure fair distribution of everyday staples: toilet roll, pasta and soap. Even fresh food items were hard to come by, with many shoppers panic-buying, fearing for the worst.
It’s nearly June, and here in my corner of North West England, it’s freezing.
‘Well, you do live in the UK, what do you expect!’, I hear you exasperate.
On the bright side, the huge volume of rain we have had recently means our garden is looking particularly vivacious and verdant.
My favourite part of our little patch? The Herb Garden. Or rather, a less grandiose (and more accurate) title: The Herb Patch. Like the rest of our now well-watered garden, it’s flourishing beautifully.
When I take my morning wakeup medicine (strong black coffee), I love to perch next to…