Tim Wallace

  • Guide to the declaration of cyborg rights

    Cybernetic organisms live among us, and want to be understood.

    What with all the trouble over human and animal rights, have we given enough thought to cyborg rights? Attention rec...

    April 6, 2018
  • Trypophobia and the science of disgust

    Is this ‘unusual but common’ condition simply a fear of holes?

    Editor’s note: Readers who feel an aversion to images of clusters of holes or roughly circular objects may wish to av...

    April 2, 2018
  • Mariner 10: First mission to Mercury

    On 29 March 1974, Mariner 10 became the first spacecraft to get close to Mercury, writes Tim Wall...

    By the time of humanity’s first close encounter with the Solar System’s first planet, when the Mariner 10 space probe...

    March 28, 2018
  • Five things you should know about trees

    Fascinating lesser-known facts about our arboreal companions.

    1. There are about 3 trillion trees (and falling) in the world A global map of tree density. Credit: Crowther et al...

    March 20, 2018
  • In your face! Clever things science is doing with facial recognition

    Facial recognition technology is booming with governments and corporations making big investments...

    1. Who art thou?Is the lady with flowers, a marble bust by Florentine artist Andrea del Verrocchio circa 1475, the sa...

    February 13, 2018
  • Cosmic ray theory of global warming

    The effects of solar activity in climate change overstated.

    For those who want an explanation for global warming that lets fossil fuels off the hook, the work of Danish physicis...

    December 21, 2017
  • Brain lesions contribute to criminal behaviour

    Criminality is associated with brain networks involved in morality.

    Ed Gein was repeatedly beaten around the head by his alcoholic father. Gary Heidnik fell from a tree at age six and h...

    December 20, 2017
  • GM plant species numbers set to dramatically increase

    Chinese scientists combine magnets and nanotech to successfully manipulate pollen.

    Genetic modification of food crops is, depending on your point of view, a wondrous technological solution to feed a g...

    November 30, 2017
  • Loveless voles show how alcohol harms brain’s bonding chemicals

    Alcohol is not good for vole relationships, new research finds.

    In the wanton world of rodent hook-up culture, prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) stand out for their singular devo...

    November 18, 2017
  • Birds nest earlier as climate heats up

    A Californian study finds birds are nesting up to 12 days earlier in an attempt to beat the heat....

    Many birds are now nesting and breeding five to 12 days earlier than they did a century ago, in response to climate c...

    November 15, 2017
  • Sheep pick Barack Obama, Emma Watson out of a line-up

    Research finds sheep have remarkably well developed facial recognition systems.

    Sheep, for too long maligned by popular expressions implying they are dull, thoughtless creatures, are actually almos...

    November 7, 2017
  • Tests confirm spaceflight alters the brain

    The prolonged effects of microgravity raise doubts about the health of astronauts heading to Mars...

    Artificial gravity has been a highly useful concept for film directors wishing to depict life in space without the ne...

    November 5, 2017
  • On the edge: fragmented forests signal biodiversity crisis

    Road-making and industry in the world’s forests is having a profound affect on wildlife. Tim Wall...

    The world’s most famous forest, Sherwood, was once so vast it was entirely believable that Robin Hood and his merry m...

    November 3, 2017
  • Biochar, the once and future agricultural mainstay

    Could an anaerobic charcoal offer a way to reduce fertiliser use and bump up carbon capture? Tim ...

    It is one of humanity’s oldest and simplest forms of agricultural technology – using little more than wood, soil and ...

    October 22, 2017
  • Beautiful scenes from a small world

    Spectacular images from the Nikon Small World microphotography competition.

    Human skin cells (HaCaT keratinocytes) expressing fluorescently tagged keratin. Credit: Bram van den Broek, Andriy Vo...

    October 15, 2017
  • Just 10 rivers may be to blame for millions of tonnes of ocean plastic

    Targeting just a few rivers could dramatically reduce marine pollution.

    Just 10 rivers – eight of them in Asia – may be responsible for dumping almost four million tonnes of plastic into th...

    October 11, 2017
  • Scientists give psychedelic drugs to tiny brains in petri dishes

    Using organoids allows researchers to circumvent legal and ethical barriers.

    Naturally occurring psychedelic compounds such as psilocybin, produced in mushrooms, and dimethyltryptamine (DMT), pr...

    October 9, 2017
  • Far side of the moon revealed, half a century ago

    The images are patchy and blurry, but the first photos of the moon’s far side were still a revela...

    This image represents the first time in history that we saw something that can’t be seen from Earth: the far side of ...

    October 5, 2017
  • 135 years ago today, the Rocket Age began

    Robert Goddard is as important to rocketry as the Wright Brothers are to powered flight, writes T...

    “Light this candle!” So astronaut Alan Shepard is credited with exclaiming after hours of sitting atop a Mercury-Reds...

    October 4, 2017
  • How Sputnik 1 launched the space age

    Sixty years ago the first artificial satellite went into orbit and changed the world forever.

    Radio beeps from a highly polished aluminium-alloy sphere barely bigger than a beachball signalled to the world, on t...

    October 3, 2017
  • The science of spider paws

    Hairy feet help hefty spiders climb walls.

    Were you to feel one – or eight, more likely – touching your skin, the chances you would squeal with delight are not ...

    October 2, 2017
  • Single-origin theory of humans, challenged

    Bones of Stone Age boy found on a beach.

    The 2,000-year-old bones of a boy found on a beach in South Africa have provided more grounds to challenge the prevai...

    September 28, 2017
  • Tropical forests no longer a carbon sink

    Deforestation, degradation and disturbance have reversed the role of tropical forests: they now e...

    The world’s tropical forests are often described as the planet’s lungs; but now, due to human activity those lungs ar...

    September 28, 2017
  • There’s a sucker born every minute

    A remarkable robotic adhesive disc has been inspired by fish that hitchhike on sharks. Tim Wallac...

    The ‘ship-holding’ capabilities of the family of fish known as remora (Echeneidae), also known as the sharksucker or ...

    September 24, 2017
  • Why are leaves so big in the tropics?

    Leaf sizes are limited by daytime and nighttime temperatures, as well as the amount of sunlight a...

    It was in the 19th century that travelling European plant geographers became fascinated with the pendulous giant leav...

    September 1, 2017
  • Harbinger of doom for the wooly rhino

    An extra rib indicates other congenital abnormalities.

    A cervical rib, for the one in 200 humans born with the congenital condition, is likely to be at least an occasional ...

    August 29, 2017
  • The beauty of ecology

    Stunning images celebrating both scientific and photographic skills.

    At first glance this photograph of Heron Reef, in the southernmost section of the Great Barrier Reef, looks somewhat ...

    August 18, 2017
  • How snowball Earth gave rise to complex life

    650 million years ago, massive glaciers ground mountains to dust set the stage for the rise of al...

    A pivotal step in the evolution of life on Earth was the progression from unicellular to multicellular organisms. Thi...

    August 16, 2017
  • The beauty of the night sky

    Stunning images from Winning Sky 2017.

    Urban light pollution has so dimmed the heavens that those of us living in cities barely register the awesome spectac...

    August 16, 2017
  • Jury still out on medical marijuana for chronic pain and PTSD

    Not enough evidence to decide whether marijuana is an effective treatment.

    Some say there’s a fine line between pleasure and pain, but the line between pleasure and pain relief could well be s...

    August 15, 2017
  • Jurassic’s earliest gliding mammals

    Fossils indicate dinosaurs did not dominate the Mesozoic Era.

    The Maiopatagium furculiferum fossil. Credit: Zhe-Xi Luo / University of Chicago The earliest examples of gliding ma...

    August 9, 2017
  • It’s the humidity: killer heat waves projected for much of south Asia

    Higher temperatures and high humidity are likely to create unliveable conditions in parts of Indi...

    The populations of south Asia are at particular risk from projected increases in the intensity and frequency of heat ...

    August 3, 2017
  • RoboCup 2017 wrap-up: highs, lows, plenty of falls

    The organisers of the world’s foremost robot soccer tournament hope to field a team that can defe...

    There’s one aspect of the world game in which robot footballers already outdo human athletes: the dive. When a robot ...

    August 2, 2017
  • What makes the nightjar a camouflage champion

    Self-awareness appears to be behind their ability to fade into the background.

    When you spend your days nesting on the ground and weigh less than 100 grams, self-preservation depends on mastering ...

    August 1, 2017
  • The inner life of a dividing human cell

    High-resolution microscopy sheds light on regulated replication of chromosomes.

    This is a human cell preparing to divide. Over the course of an average life, the estimated 37 trillion cells in our ...

    July 30, 2017
  • Latest oviraptosaur had cassowary-like skull

    Fancy skull for regulating heat or impressing potential mates.

    Dug up from a site near the Ganzhou train station, in the southern Chinese province of Jiangxi, the latest addition t...

    July 27, 2017
  • Psychopaths are better at learning to lie

    A new study suggests that psychopaths may not be innately better liars than other people but can ...

    Psychopaths may not be naturally better, or more believable, liars but practice makes perfect. Research by scientists...

    July 25, 2017
  • Four-year search discovers first new species in 130 years

    Quest for a strange, massive fish that yo-yos between deep ocean and surface waters.

    Marianne Nyegaard was six years old the first time she saw a sunfish – one of the strangest and most elusive of all o...

    July 20, 2017
  • Global plastic waste totals 4.9 billion tonnes

    First global analysis of all plastics ever mass produced.

    Past epochs of human development – the stone age, the bronze age, the iron age – are known by the dominant materials ...

    July 19, 2017
  • How Kelvin waves convert East Antarctic winds to West Antarctic ice melt

    More Larsen C-type ice shelf collapses likely in future, suggests modelling.

    Higher rates of ice melt on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula – not far from where a large chunk of the Lar...

    July 17, 2017
  • First mission to Mars: Mariner 4’s special place in history

    July 14, 1965, forever changed the way we see Mars. Tim Wallace looks back at one of NASA’s great...

    The Mariner 4 spacecraft.NASA / JPLWhen humans finally set foot on Mars, it will be the culmination of a journey that...

    July 14, 2017
  • How male baboons use violence to get sex

    Male chacma baboons intimidate females over a long time to increase chances of mating.

    How to describe baboon sexual politics? Complicated? Perhaps. Savage? Certainly. Violence by males against females is...

    July 7, 2017
  • New model reconciles climate history with forecasts

    Improved understanding of long-term effects of greenhouse emissions on climate sensitivity helps ...

    How much will burning fossil fuels warm the planet? It depends on two basic factors: the direct contribution the emis...

    July 6, 2017
  • Without a sense of smell, fat burns away

    Startling results from tests on the olfactory nerves of mice may prevent and treat obesity.

    A mouse with no sense of smell won’t gain as much weight as another rodent fed the same high-fat diet; conversely, a ...

    July 6, 2017
  • Bees show way to improve camera colour accuracy

    Honeybees keep extra eyes on the sky to track colours.

    Is that dress blue and black or white and gold? How we perceive colour is complex, influenced greatly by lighting con...

    July 4, 2017
  • Skull remnants found in world’s oldest temple

    Evidence reveals new discoveries about ancient life.

    More than 10,000 years ago there existed a human society in the northern reaches of Mesopotamia that, thanks to recen...

    June 29, 2017
  • Male palm cockatoos play drums to impress females

    The palm cockatoos make drumsticks and beat a rhythm as part of their mating display.

    The male palm cockatoo uses tool to drum on wood. Credit: C. Zdenek Cocky loves to dance. From rhythm and blues to h...

    June 29, 2017
  • Sea levels are rising faster, driven by Greenland melt

    Satellite data shows that the rate of global sea-level rise increased by 50% between 1993 and 201...

    Melting ice, such as this glacier breakup floating in Greenland’s Fjord of Eternity, played an unexpectedly large rol...

    June 26, 2017
  • Plankton at risk from seafloor mining surveys

    The search for oil and gas deposits beneath the sea is deadly to vital marine organisms.

    Zooplankton like these are vulnerable to the acoustic surveys used to search for oil and gas under the seabed. Credit...

    June 23, 2017
  • Genetic modelling adds a new twist

    Homo floresiensis was descended from larger ancestors.

    Just when we thought we were getting a firm grip on the place of the diminutive early human Homo floresiensis, better...

    June 22, 2017
  • Yes, puppy images can help!

    A psychological study about emotional conditioning tells us as much.

    If real-world proof were needed that cute animals encourage a “positive affect” in people, consider the widespread me...

    June 21, 2017
  • Magma discovery could lead to better eruption predictions

    Volcanoes just aren’t that hot, according to new research that cools assumptions about the molten...

    Colourful volcanic rock on Mount Tarawera in Rotorua. Zircon crystals from the volcano give hints about what happened...

    June 19, 2017
  • Forces of light do battle with malaria

    The mosquitos that transmit malaria may have a simple Achilles heel.

    A scanning electron microscope image of the Anopheles Gambiae mosquito, the vector of malaria and other diseases. Cre...

    June 19, 2017
  • Understanding anaesthesia

    Research into anaesthesia may shed light on how consciousness is created.

    No-one knows exactly how anaesthesia causes unconsciousness. Credit: Steex / Getty The advent of anaesthesia is one ...

    June 2, 2017
  • Global greening may be a double-edged sword

    Research into the effects of increased plant cover is a reminder of the complexity of the systems...

    Increased leaf cover tends to make warm areas slightly cooler and cool areas warmer. Jillian Dudziak / Getty Carbon ...

    May 26, 2017
  • Lessons in leadership from a school of problem-solving fishbots

    Research shows that groups of robots need different ‘personality’ types to work collectively and ...

    The behaviour of robotic fish can offer insights into human group dynamics.Benny J / GettyIn most sci-fi scenarios, t...

    May 25, 2017
  • City trees may worsen air pollution in hot weather

    Volatile organic compounds given off by plants in the heat can react with car exhaust to produce ...

    The famous leafy streetscape of Berlin’s Unter den Linden may have its downside, according to new research. Wolfgang ...

    May 18, 2017
  • Artificial wing lifts lid on secrets of ladybug flight

    To see what lies beneath the cover of a ladybug’s wing, Japanese scientists made the cover transp...

    A ladybug fitted with transparent prosthetic elytra.Kazuya SaitoBeneath its distinctively patterned forewings, the la...

    May 16, 2017
  • Children understand co-operative concepts earlier than thought

    Children as young as three understand and value joint commitment to a task, according to new rese...

    New research suggests that children as young as 3 appreciate shared commitment to a joint endeavour.Gary Burchell / G...

    May 15, 2017
  • Spring shift throws songsters off their timing

    Climate change means birds don’t know when to fly north, writes Tim Wallace.

    The blue-winged warbler is one of many birds bemused by changing climates. Jim Zipp / Getty A silent spring was the ...

    May 15, 2017
  • Exoplanet likely to be a waterworld

    A new study shows planet HAT-P-26b appears to have water and clouds, writes Tim Wallace.

    Like Earth in Kevin Costner’s 1995 epic Waterworld, HAT-P-26b contains a surprising amount of water.Universal Picture...

    May 12, 2017
  • Cleaning up: scavenger brain cells

    Discovery of a cell protecting zebrafish brains.

    Surface of an adult zebrafish brain showing scavenger cells in red adjacent to blood vessels in green and nuclei in b...

    May 11, 2017
  • A toxic environment for research

    Cancer rates linked to environmental degradation.

    New US research showing cancer rates nearly 9% higher than the average in areas with polluted air, water, soil or oth...

    May 9, 2017
  • Lab mice make poor models

    Laboratory mice may be too ‘immunologically naïve’.

    The pristine immune systems of laboratory mice may count them out as immunological test subjects. Credit: Adam Gault ...

    May 4, 2017
  • What gives tea its flavour and health benefits?

    Key insights into the unique characteristics of tea.

    A farmer picking tea leaves in Sanjiang, Guangxi Province, China. Credit: Keren Su / Getty Few plants can claim such...

    May 4, 2017
  • Martian landscape created by two distinct asteroid epochs

    NASA-backed study shows a 400 million year gap in impact activity. Tim Wallace reports.

    Major impacts on the Martian surface include the ancient giant Borealis basin (top of globe), Hellas (bottom right), ...

    May 1, 2017
  • Ancient humans identified

    DNA found in cave soil reveals identity.

    Just as a body is the prime evidence for crime-scene investigators to prove a homicide, old bones have been the key f...

    April 28, 2017
  • Climate change preceded Ice Age extinction

    Melting glaciers and permafrost may have destroyed grasslands.

    Significant climate and habitat changes across Europe, Eurasia and the Americas appear to have preceded the large-sca...

    April 19, 2017
  • Ants thrived in a cooling climate

    Ants’ agricultural revolution may hold lessons for humans.

    Leafcutter ants carrying leaves to feed to their fungus. Credit: Tim Flach / Getty   By the time humans began the t...

    April 12, 2017
  • What’s the best way to tickle a rat?

    Study sheds light on the science of rat-tickling.

    A scientist tickling a rat. Credit: Shimpei Ishiyama & Michael Brech There’s an art – a science, really – to ticklin...

    April 10, 2017
  • Staying up late linked to genetic mutation

    A mutation that may cause night-owl behaviour.

    A real, not figurative, night owl. Specifically a Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus). Credit: Greg Hume Find it dif...

    April 7, 2017
  • Bionic leaf breakthrough could revolutionise fertiliser production, but environmental questions remain

    A new nitrogen-fixing device may offer farmers independence from industrial fertiliser giants, bu...

    The ‘bionic leaf’ makes use of the ‘artificial leaf’ (shown above) that Nocera developed in 2011.Dominick Reuter/MITH...

    April 6, 2017

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