Tim Wallace

  • Round-up: a short guide to the declaration of cyborg rights

    Cybernetic organisms live among us, and they want to be understood. Here is a primer to the cybor...

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

    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 and forests

    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. Tim Wallace re...

    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. Tim Wallace reports.

    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. Tim Wallace reports.

    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.Bram van den Broek, Andriy Volkov, Kee...

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

    Analysis finds targeting just a few rivers could dramatically reduce marine pollution. Tim Wallac...

    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 to valuable research....

    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
  • Bones of Stone Age boy challenge single-origin theory of modern humans

    DNA analysis points to no one cradle of humanity but a whole African nursery. Tim Wallace reports.

    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
  • Extra ribs may have been a harbinger of doom for the wooly rhino

    A new study has found that one in three members of the extinct species had an extra rib that ofte...

    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

    A pair of new studies conclude that there is not yet enough evidence to decide whether – and for ...

    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 undermine dinosaurs’ reign

    Two exquisitely preserved fossils, dated to 160 million years ago, indicate dinosaurs did not dom...

    The Maiopatagium furculiferum fossil.Zhe-Xi Luo / University of ChicagoThe earliest examples of gliding mammals yet d...

    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
  • The invisible bird: what makes the nightjar a camouflage champion

    Self-awareness appears to be behind the nightjar's astonishing 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 the forces that regulate the correct replication of chr...

    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 crested skull

    The newly discovered feathered dinosaur may have used its fancy skull for regulating heat or impr...

    Artistic reconstruction of Corythoraptor jacobsi.Zhao ChuangDug up from a site near the Ganzhou train station, in the...

    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
  • Sunfish spotting: four-year search discovers first new species in 130 years

    One scientist’s quest for a strange, massive fish that yo-yos between deep ocean and sunny surfac...

    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 attack and intimidate females over long periods of time to increase their cha...

    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 hold a key to prevent and treat ...

    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
  • Learning from nature: Bees show way to improve camera colour accuracy

    Honeybees keep extra eyes on the sky to track colours without the complex brain machinery that hu...

    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 cult remnants found in world’s oldest temple

    Fragments of carved skulls found at the Göbekli Tepe site in Turkey offer evidence that this Ston...

    Carvings from Göbekli Tepe.Klaus Schmidt, Göbekli Tepe Archive, DAI.More than 10,000 years ago there existed a human ...

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

    The palm cockatoos of Australia’s Cape York Peninsula make drumsticks and beat a rhythm as part o...

    The male palm cockatoo uses tool to drum on wood.C. ZdenekCocky loves to dance. From rhythm and blues to heavy metal,...

    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 uses acoustic imaging techniques that are dea...

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

    June 23, 2017
  • Genetic modelling adds a new twist to hobbit ancestry question

    A new study lends weight to the idea that the diminutive ancient hominid Homo floresiensis was de...

    An artist’s impression of Homo floresiensis.Katrina KennyJust when we thought we were getting a firm grip on the plac...

    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. Tim Wallace explains.

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

    June 19, 2017
  • Understanding anaesthesia

    New research into anaesthesia may shed light on how processes in the brain create consciousness, ...

    No-one knows exactly how anaesthesia causes unconsciousness.Steex / GettyThe advent of anaesthesia is one of the grea...

    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 / GettyCarbon dio...

    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 K...

    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 / GettyA silent spring was the apo...

    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 from bloodstream waste could help treat human mal...

    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

    Research connecting cancer rates to environmental degradation highlights the importance of the EP...

    Tough times ahead for environmental science.Hero Images / GettyNew US research showing cancer rates nearly 9% higher ...

    May 9, 2017
  • Lab mice make poor models for real-world immune systems

    Laboratory mice may be too ‘immunologically naïve’ to be useful for testing responses to disease,...

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

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

    The high-quality mapping of the tea tree genome provides key insights into the unique characteris...

    A farmer picking tea leaves in Sanjiang, Guangxi Province, China.Keren Su / GettyFew plants can claim such a signific...

    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 through DNA left in cave soil

    Fleshing out the evolutionary record may no longer require finding bones, writes Tim Wallace.

    No bones about it: Despite the absence of skeletal remains, DNA shows that ancient humans lived at Vindija Cave, Croa...

    April 28, 2017
  • Climate change preceded Ice Age megafauna extinction

    Melting glaciers and permafrost may have destroyed the grasslands that fed the giant prehistoric ...

    A woolly mammoth exhibit at the Royal BC Museum in Canada.Flickr user Flying Puffin / WikimediaSignificant climate an...

    April 19, 2017
  • Ants thrived in a cooling climate by taming fungus

    Ants’ agricultural revolution 30 million years ago may hold lessons for humans. Tim Wallace reports.

    Leafcutter ants carrying leaves to feed to their fungus.Tim Flach / GettyBy the time humans began the transition from...

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

    A new study sheds light on the underappreciated science of rat-tickling, writes Tim Wallace.

    A scientist tickling a rat.Shimpei Ishiyama & Michael BrechThere’s an art – a science, really – to tickling a rat. Th...

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

    A new study has identified a mutation that may cause night-owl behaviour in as many as 1 in 75 pe...

    A real, not figurative, night owl. Specifically a Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus).Greg HumeFind it difficult to f...

    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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