Viviane Richter

Viviane Richter

Viviane Richter is a freelance science writer based in Melbourne.

Viviane Richter is a freelance science writer based in Melbourne. She has a background in structural biology, with a PhD from La Trobe University.​

  • Celebrate Ada Lovelace Day on Tuesday

    NYPL / Science Source / Getty ImagesThis Tuesday, celebrate a computer science visionary and join one of many events ...

    October 9, 2016
  • Self-weeding crops produce their own herbicides

    Growing canola that fends off invaders could be a solution to sprays. Viviane Richter reports.

    Certain canola varieties can slow ryegrass growth.Carolyn Hebbard / getty imagesA crop that does its own weeding may ...

    September 19, 2016
  • Physicists help deliver precision to paddocks

    Farming is on the cusp of a new scientific revolution. Viviane Richter reports.

    University of New England physicist David Lamb says precision agriculture is transforming the industry.Simon ScottA...

    September 5, 2016
  • Feather map reveals secrets of waterbirds

    Researchers are enlisting the help of citizens to track bird movements. Viviane Richter reports.

    Feathers create a record of what the birds have been eating and drinking, which is specific to where they are in the ...

    August 29, 2016
  • African farming trials create food for thought

    Small changes in maize-growing techniques are helping farmers in Mozambique boost production. Viv...

    In the field trials, farmers plant maize in rows marked with material wrapped around sticks to indicate different co...

    August 29, 2016
  • Mercury’s surface was formed deep within the planet

    Scientists have at last solved the mystery of the strange chemistry of Mercury's plains. Viviane ...

    An enhanced colour image showing the chemical, mineralogical, and physical differences between the rocks that make up...

    June 30, 2016
  • A new tool to study neutron stars

    A leap forward in gravitational wave detection will enhance sensitivity and help reveal even more...

    The neutron star SGR 1806-20 producing a gamma ray flare.Stocktrek Images/Getty ImagesEven the faintest gravitational...

    June 23, 2016
  • China smashes supercomputer speed record

    With its latest all-homegrown lightning-fast machine, China has pulled ahead of the US in the glo...

    Chinese scientists have created the fastest supercomputer in the world, smashing the previous record by a factor of t...

    June 22, 2016
  • Are bacteria the secret to a great wine vintage?

    A wine's terroir is defined by a complex formula involving climate, soil, genetics and the way th...

    The Sullenger Vineyard of Nickel & Nickel's winery in California's Napa Valley was one of the sites involved in the s...

    June 14, 2016
  • Clinical trials show success for new cancer treatment

    The latest promising data on immunotherapy has been unveiled at a meeting of oncologists in Chica...

    An illustration shows T lymphocytes attached to a cancer cell. Immunotherapy involves retraining the body's own defen...

    June 12, 2016
  • How electric eels leap to attack land animals

    A new study shows an old story long thought to be a myth was probably true after all. Viviane Ric...

    Electrifying cells make up 80% of an electric eel's body.MARK NEWMAN/GETTY IMAGESSlimy eels leaping from muddy water ...

    June 7, 2016
  • Flesh-eating disease sweeps war-ravaged Syria

    Leishmaniasis is far from new to the Middle East but crowded refugee camps and collapsing healthc...

    A Syrian refugee is treated for leishmaniasis in Kilis, Turkey.CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTIONThe Syrian c...

    June 1, 2016
  • Computer cracks 200-terabyte maths proof

    The Boolean Pythagorean triples problem took 800 processors at the University of Texas Stampede s...

    The Stampede supercomputer on which the proof was run.UNIVERSITY OF TEXASEver struggled writing proofs in algebra cla...

    May 31, 2016
  • Germans claim new data Wi-Fi transmission record

    A lightning fast performance outside lab conditions gives hopes of better internet connections to...

    View through the position finder from the transmitter at Uni-Center Cologne to the Fraunhofer institute in Wachtberg ...

    May 26, 2016
  • The way we were before Google Maps

    Viviane Richter reviews a newly digitised collection of Australian maps that shows the way we fou...

    Google maps may have left the modern atlas gathering dust, but this collection breathes new life into the maps that g...

    May 17, 2016
  • A new way to explore the mathematical universe

    Scientists are expecting big things to come from a new online resource shows how mathematical obj...

    A nonholomorphic modular form is one of the many types of objects in the LMFDB. FREDRIK STROEMBERG ...

    May 11, 2016
  • For stronger condoms, spike them with spinifex

    It's the bane of outback explorers and campers, but spinifex nanocellulose bestows extra strength...

    It's prickly and tough but compounds from spinifex grass can reinforce other materials.STEVE WATERS / GETTY IMAGESRou...

    May 10, 2016
  • Venus flytraps ‘sniff’ prey for better digestion

    The famous insect-eating plant has taken a defence system and turned it into an key part of its c...

    This fly is in dangerous territory. Should it be trapped, the Venus flytrap will excrete specific digestive juices de...

    May 5, 2016
  • Why Labradors are obsessed with food – it’s in their genes

    Labradors with a particular genetic mutation beg for food and scavenge for scraps more often, but...

    Keeping Labradors trim requires disciplined owners – some dogs are wired to crave food. – Jetta Productions / Walter ...

    May 4, 2016
  • Microscopic secrets of your immune system, unveiled

    Celebrate the International Day of Immunology with these shots of your defence systems in action....

    Short of cursing it when we catch a cold, most of us don't give much thought to our immune system. But now, the m...

    April 28, 2016
  • Dirty mice tell us more about human disease than clean ones

    Pathogen-free lab environments leave the animals' immune systems weak and unlike their human ...

    Adam Gault/Getty Images Living with a dirty cousin may make the sheltered lab mouse a better model for stud...

    April 21, 2016
  • What is CRISPR?

    The tool that could usher in a golden age of gene editing.

    Who would have thought our most advanced gene-editing tool would be carbon-copied from one of the most primitive life...

    April 18, 2016
  • Tiny but deadly: four nano cancer-killing weapons

    Tumours are tricky – they're able to hijack surrounding tissue to grow and spread, yet hide f...

    Sometimes big problems call for tiny solutions. And one solution that gives hope to the 14 million patients facing a ...

    April 13, 2016
  • Cooking up the missing molecule of life’s building blocks

    The sugar that is the essential backbone of RNA has been made in a lab under comet-like condition...

    There is growing support for the theory that life’s building blocks smashed down with comets. – Lev Savitskiy/Getty I...

    April 8, 2016
  • The super-steel for next gen body armour

    New crystalline material is strong enough for any superhero. Viviane Richter reports.

    An officer in the US Army's 172nd Brigade Combat Team dons his body armour before a patrol in 2009 in Musayyib, Iraq....

    April 7, 2016
  • Can this stem cell therapy repair spinal damage?

    Scientists take inspiration from the salamander and say they could be ready for human trials next...

    Stem cell therapy may soon repair human spinal damage, much like salamanders regrow their limbs.This claim is made by...

    April 6, 2016
  • Synchrotron helps clear up cold case file

    Sophisticated X-ray laser analysis has been used to determine the scene of a murder in a case tha...

    Subatomic particles travelling at near the speed of light is the last thing you’d expect to find use in a forensic sc...

    April 6, 2016
  • Viruses can be used to track our travel

    Individual strains are linked to geographically specific locations and may become a forensic tool...

    A reconstruction of a herpes simplex virus capsid, based on data from electron microscopy studies.University of Wisco...

    April 4, 2016
  • Volcanoes nudged the Moon off its axis

    Our cold, grey Moon was once vibrant and volcanic. Now scientists believe its fiery youth jostled...

    Summer at the lunar north pole. Some regions regions are perpetually dark and very, very cold. – NASA/GSFC/Arizona St...

    March 24, 2016
  • Missing link that led T-rex to the top of the food chain

    Brains, not brawn, delivered Tyrannosaurus the crown, reports Viviane Richter.

    A reconstruction of the new tyrannosaur Timurlengia euotica in its environment 90 million years ago. It is accompanie...

    March 15, 2016
  • Can you inherit a weight problem?

    Mice pass on the effects of their bad diet to their offspring, a new study in Germany has shown. ...

    An obese mouse used for research with a normal weight counterpart. – Getty Images Stay away from fast food...

    March 15, 2016
  • Trails of ghosts

    The quest for subatomic particles.

    The ancient Greeks thought the fundamental particle was the atom. But when the electron was discovered in 1897, we re...

    March 9, 2016
  • What killed off the vicious ichthyosaur?

    Well before the dinosaur-killing meteorite, the ocean's top predators – ichthyosaurs – up and...

    The dolphin-like ichthyosaur was king of the ocean, reigning at the top of the food chain. But some 90 million years ...

    March 9, 2016
  • Fossilised leaves are forced to tell their story

    Millions of fossils around the world could provide insights into plant evolution, but until now t...

    Leaves in the Rosaceae family that includes rose, peach and strawberry. 'Heat mapping' shows leaf attributes importan...

    March 8, 2016
  • Older people slower but smarter than young’uns

    Retirees might take longer to fill out a crossword than their kids, but they'll leave fewer b...

    Shestock / Getty images Human intelligence is wired to peak at different stages of life – and it turns out ...

    March 6, 2016
  • Stress remodels lymphatic system to help cancer spread

    The body's drainage system is 'remodeled' when stressed out, and gives spreading canc...

    Stress can help cancer metastasise ... but a common blood pressure medication seems to offset it, a new study shows. ...

    March 2, 2016
  • Triple entanglement paves way for quantum encryption

    European scientists put three photons in a 3-D 'twist' – a feat so far only predicted pos...

    Long-exposure photo of laser beams with a twisted wavefront. The beams have holes in the middle due to destructive in...

    March 1, 2016
  • The tarantula’s bite that could stop pain

    Spider venom could hold the key for a new medication for chronic pain. Viviane Richter reports.

    getty images Neither a tarantula’s painful bite nor a sea snail’s lethal sting sound all that pleasant – or...

    February 29, 2016
  • Why bees don’t buy the flashiest flowers

    Researchers have discovered there is a delicate balance for flowers between attracting pollinator...

    A bee settles on the non-iridescent flower of a salvia. – Alison Reed The more glitz, the better. That’s t...

    February 29, 2016
  • Blind patients may soon see again, thanks to algae DNA

    A light-sensitive protein might be the key to an optogenetic treatment that generates light-sensi...

    Rolando Caponi / EyeEm / Getty Images Next month, surgeons in Texas hope to restore sight to a blind patien...

    February 25, 2016
  • Bats’ boosted immunity may help humans battle bugs

    Like little flying Typhoid Marys, bats can carry deadly diseases but stay healthy. Viviane Richte...

    Where Ebola has killed more than 10,000 people, bats can happily carry diseases without so much as a slight temperatu...

    February 23, 2016
  • Is this the link between sleep and depression?

    The discovery of a genetic link between mood and the circadian rhythm may lead to treatments for ...

    Tara Moore/Getty Images Ask any new parent – trudging through weeks or months on too little sleep can have ...

    February 23, 2016
  • Fish farms cause lasting genetic change in one generation

    The intense, crowded conditions of a fish hatchery create strong natural selection pressures, but...

    Steelhead trout fry, Oncorhynchus mykiss, in a fish hatchery, Monterey Bay, California. – Mint Images - Frans Lanting...

    February 23, 2016
  • Cardio or weights: what exercise is best for your brain?

    Working up a sweat doesn't just shape and tone your muscles. Your brain benefits too, writes ...

    wichai leesawatwong / Getty Images Whether you bounce out of bed pumped for a Saturday morning run or begru...

    February 22, 2016
  • Ebola survivor’s antibodies boost hope of treatment

    Mechanism leads to hopes of priming the immune system for better protection against the virus. Vi...

    Getty Images The blood of a single survivor of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Zaire has produced more antibodie...

    February 19, 2016
  • Could a 5-D black hole break down Einstein’s theory?

    British scientists have created a theoretical black hole that defies the theory of general relati...

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    February 19, 2016
  • Watch a sea butterfly’s ‘flight’ through the ocean

    The tiny but beautiful sea butterfly, a type of plankton, uses the same physics to 'fly' ...

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    February 18, 2016
  • Sex-changing mosquitoes in the war against Zika

    Scientists propose turning blood-sucking female mosquitoes into harmless males using the revoluti...

    She's thirsty for blood ... but not if she was a he. – RolfAasa / Getty Images Sex-changed mosquitoes might...

    February 18, 2016
  • Study confirms link between lead and violent crime

    Following American studies that show lead exposure in children increases aggressive behaviour lat...

    Young adults exposed to high levels of lead as children are more likely to become aggressive and commit violent crime...

    February 18, 2016
  • How to preserve data to last 13.8 billion years

    Scientists have discovered what maybe the ultimate in data storage devices, a laser-etched 'f...

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    February 17, 2016
  • Your reaction to cannabis ‘is hardwired’

    Genetics may determine whether THC becomes a problem or not, a new study suggests. Vivian Richter...

    Hulton Archive/Getty Images Your likelihood of getting stoned may be etched in your DNA. That’s according t...

    February 17, 2016
  • New bioprinter produces life-sized, living tissue

    New technique made parts that became vascularised with blood vessels and innervated with nerves i...

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    February 16, 2016
  • Anti-cancer T-cells pass trials with flying colours

    A therapy using modified immune cells is showing promise but still poses risks. Viviane Richter r...

    T lymphocytes, or T-cells, (in yellow) attack a cancer cell in this coloured scanning electron micrograph. – Steve G...

    February 16, 2016
  • Can virtual reality help treat depression?

    Study lets patients' avatars give them a good talking-to, but the jury is out on whether it a...

    The virtual reality headset allowed patients to see from the perspective of their life-size “avatars” or virtual bodi...

    February 15, 2016
  • Simulating life on a deep space mission

    The HERA mission is an exercise in living and working in the isolation and confined spaces necess...

    Thirty years ago, the world was glued to televisions, witnessing the Space Shuttle Challenger blast off from Cape Can...

    February 15, 2016
  • Scientists discover a new kind of frozen water

    Researchers model an ultra-light low density ice clathrate that could aid carbon sequestration. V...

    Getty Images Ice – whether you’re scraping it off your car windscreen or dropping it in your gin and tonic...

    February 15, 2016
  • Depressed? Blame it on the Neanderthals

    Genes that helped our distant ancestors are not such a blessing to us today. Viviane Richter repo...

    Reconstruction of a Neanderthal by Elisabeth Daynes of the Daynes Studio, Paris. – SPL Creative/Getty Images ...

    February 15, 2016
  • UCL sets new digital data speed record

    Optical transmission system is 50,000 times faster than today's superfast internet. Viviane R...

    Science Photo Library/Getty Images Imagine downloading Game of Thrones – all seasons, in HD – within a sing...

    February 11, 2016
  • SpaceX ramps up production of Falcon 9 rockets

    The company is gearing up for a busy launch schedule this year, Viviane Richter reports.

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    February 11, 2016
  • Parkinson’s patients trained to respond to placebos

    By mixing placebos and active drugs, doctors may be able to keep treatments effective for longer....

    bakhtiar_zein/Getty images The next big thing in Parkinson’s therapy could be … nothing. Italian scientists...

    February 10, 2016
  • How the animal kingdom plays the dating game

    Across the animal kingdom, every species has its own version of the dating game.

    Be it peacock feathers or butterfly wings, we can thank hard market competition for the animal kingdom’s brilliant va...

    February 10, 2016
  • The smell of death that may help save the living

    By determining molecules released in the odour of decaying bodies, rescue teams in disaster sites...

    The field study site in Western Australia set up to analyse the scent of rotting pigs. If you’ve ever caug...

    February 10, 2016
  • Heart stem cell patches not as strong as ‘real’ cells

    Unfortunately for heart attack patients, repairing damage after cardiac arrest doesn't seem t...

    Two heart cells’ tug of war: A stem-cell derived heart cell (top, left side of the image) is fused to a heart cell is...

    February 9, 2016
  • A bionic spinal cord for paralysis patients

    Electrode could help steer bionic limbs or exoskeletons. Vivian Richter explains.

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    February 9, 2016
  • Salamanders inspire new breed of robot

    Built to study how the nervous system coordinates movement in vertebrates, the Pleurobot could he...

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    February 8, 2016
  • How microbes help bears to hibernate

    And what that tells us about treating human obesity. Viviane Richter reports.

    Bears like this brown bear have adapted to deal with extreme swings in metabolism. – Ole Fröbert Gorging al...

    February 5, 2016
  • Being a ‘morning person’ linked to genes

    You may have no control over whether you like to wake up and go to bed early, or to stay up late ...

    Howard Kingsnorth/Getty Images Fighting with your alarm every morning? You might be fighting what’s program...

    February 4, 2016
  • Parasite slavedriver ants use cunning rather than force

    Use of scent is the key to these ants tactical genius, writes Viviane Richter.

    Raiding workers of Polyergus breviceps ants capture and carry away pupae from a nest of Formica gnava ants. – Gregory...

    February 4, 2016
  • A real brain bender: how growing grey matter folds up

    Scientists copied the 'cortical convolutions' that start in a developing foetal brain ......

    Where wrinkly skin gets a bad rap, a wrinkly brain gives you supercomputer abilities. But how those furrows in our gr...

    February 3, 2016
  • Britain approves genetic modification of embryos

    Stem cell scientist will use gene editing to monitor development. Viviane Richter reports.

    Francis Crick Institute stem cell scientist Kathy Niakan. – Francis Crick Institute British scientists have...

    February 2, 2016
  • The sweat of your brow is your new medical monitor

    Vivian Richter investigates the latest in wearable data devices designed to keep track of your he...

    Stacy Pearsall / Getty Images Bracelet, watch ... diagnostic lab? University of California Berkeley scienti...

    February 1, 2016
  • Fungi survive Martian conditions in Space Station experiment

    Survival in hostile environment adds to hope we might still find life, or signs of it, on the Red...

    Growth of Cryomyces antarcticus on agar plate. Tiny fungi native to Antarctica have survived more than 18 ...

    January 29, 2016
  • Chemical messengers could make poo transplants obsolete

    Gut microbes are essential for health, but they also have a reputation for controlling our moods,...

    Coloured scanning electron micrograph of E. coli bacteria, part of the normal microbial population of the human gut –...

    January 25, 2016
  • 3-D printing delivers smash-proof ceramics

    Ceramics are hard and heat-resistant, but they are also brittle and difficult to forge into intri...

    The 3-D printed ceramic excels at handling heat, just like regular ceramics. – HRL Laboratories / Dan Little Photogra...

    January 25, 2016
  • Machine vision peers around corners

    Forget mirrors on sticks. Bounce some super-fast light particles if you want to see what's ar...

    Disturbances in the ripple pattern produced when a high speed laser is shone at a point beyond a corner can reveal if...

    January 15, 2016
  • Corpse-eating bacteria a forensic tool

    Measuring the microbes that feed on the dead can determine the time of death when maggots and fli...

    Wherever a body is left, microbes will find it – PETER MENZEL / Getty images The number of blowflies feasti...

    January 15, 2016
  • NASA prepares for Mars missions

    Spacecraft and their cargo are rigorously tested before leaving for the red planet. Viviane Richt...

    While Curiosity explores Mars to see if it could once have harboured life, NASA is preparing a more sophisticated rov...

    January 13, 2016
  • Cleaning oil spills with blotting paper

    A common cosmetics ingredient is being developed into a nano-material with the potential to mop u...

    When BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in 2010 it dumped more than 300 Olympic swimming pools of oil into the G...

    December 14, 2015
  • Batteries – a guide to the future

    Batteries that store renewable energy are essential for the Paris climate agreement to work. Vivi...

    Turning solar and wind electricity into a 24/7 power source as reliable as coal. Eliminating the “range anxiety” that...

    December 14, 2015
  • Built-in compass helps birds find their way home

    The mechanism that allows birds to see the Earth's magnetic field is closer to being understo...

    In late summer, the swallows of northern Europe get restless. They gather in twos and threes, then clusters of a doze...

    December 7, 2015
  • Sea creature with 100 eyes

    The multi-eyed chiton could provide a model for robots. Viviane Richter explains.

    Viewed through a microscope, the chiton's tough shell seems riddled with holes. In fact, these holes are the transpar...

    November 30, 2015
  • Surgery with sound waves?

    Using loudspeakers to manipulate objects in mid-air could lead to scalpel-free surgery. Viviane R...

    A levitating polystyrene bead held in place by sound waves (which are depicted in a computer-generated overlay). – Im...

    November 23, 2015
  • Dinosaur’s temperature sheds light on evolution

    Dinosaurs were neither warm nor cold-blooded.

    Were dinosaurs cold or warm-blooded? For 150 years, palaeontologists have argued the point. Now a new piece of eviden...

    November 16, 2015
  • The earliest life on Earth?

    New research suggests life emerged a mere 300 million years after the planet formed. Viviane Rich...

    Dated by the decay of their uranium content as being older than 4.1 billion years old, these zircon crystals from Wes...

    November 9, 2015
  • How electric eels double their zapping power

    These fearsome predators use electricity in more sophisticated hunting strategies than scientists...

    Slippery, slimy and beady-eyed, the electric eel looks like a remnant from the age of the dinosaurs. But its hunting ...

    November 9, 2015
  • Artificial skin returns a sense of touch

    New plastic skin could one day provide feedback to the brain from prosthetic limbs. Viviane Richt...

    Artificial pressure-sensing 'skin' can send signals to brain cells. – Bao Research Group, Stanford University ...

    November 2, 2015
  • Nobel for identifying the DNA repair kit

    Molecular biologists investigating how damaged DNA is fixed have won the chemistry Nobel. By Vivi...

    Sweden's Tomas Lindahl, co-winner of the 2015 chemistry Nobel prize for work on how cells repair damaged DNA. – JUST...

    October 26, 2015
  • What came first, cells or viruses?

    A biological enigma that goes to the heart of the origin of life.

    Do humans really mark the pinnacle of evolution, or do viruses? While we’ve evolved along a pathway of ever-increasin...

    October 19, 2015
  • New hope for cancer medicine

    Researchers have found a way to fine-tune treatments that use a patient's own immune system t...

    Leukaemia patient Emma Whitehead's life was saved by an experimental treatment that reprogrammed her own T cells to a...

    October 19, 2015
  • Looking for life in salty Martian streams

    Microbes in Chile’s Atacama Desert might hold clues about life on Mars. Viviane Richter reports.

    Dark, narrow, finger-like streaks, visible against the white background of the lower slopes in this image, are believ...

    October 12, 2015
  • The virus that could help stop HIV

    Researchers are starting to unravel the secrets of a virus that not only doesn't make you sic...

    Macaque monkeys can become infected with the primate version of the pegivirus – egortupikov/gettyimages We&...

    October 5, 2015
  • A self-healing plastic for astronauts

    NASA’s latest invention could make life safer for space travellers. Viviane Richter reports

    Future versions of NASA's Orion crew module, designed to carry astronauts to Mars, might feature a self-healing skin ...

    September 28, 2015
  • How to stop cancer patients wasting away

    The terrible tissue wasting that often accompanies late-stage cancer is a separate, treatable con...

    Could a protein that growing tumours (green) release to stimulate new blood vessel (red) growth also cause the tissue...

    September 28, 2015
  • What does an electron cloud really look like?

    A new microscopy technique allows us to see the glue that holds molecules together. Viviane Richt...

    Chemists in Europe can now snap images of single molecules that are so sharp you can not only see the individual atom...

    September 21, 2015
  • Carbon capture that could turn a profit

    A catalyst that turns CO2 into carbon monoxide could curb greenhouse emissions while also providi...

    Carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants is the greenhouse gas most responsible for climate change. – livecal / ge...

    September 21, 2015
  • A fish lift saves native species

    Scientists are going to great lengths to improve fish diversity in the Shoalhaven River. Viviane ...

    The Tallowa Dam fish lift provides a mechanical shuttle to carry fish over the dam wall. – Chris Walsh Next...

    September 7, 2015
  • Filming living cells in close-up

    Physicists have upgraded super-resolution microscopes to see cells move in all their inner beauty...

    Inside every cell, billions of molecules continually writhe in an endless, carefully choreographed dance. Each step a...

    September 7, 2015
  • Saving the world’s crops with a bee vaccine

    Researchers have learned how queen bees immunise their young. Beekeepers might be able to exploit...

    A bee with pollen on its legs rests on a flower. If the decline of this essential pollinator species is not reversed,...

    August 31, 2015
  • Fighting superbugs with supercomputers

    Supercomputers are helping scientists design more effective anti-microbials. Viviane Richter repo...

    Doctors need new ways to attack the antibiotic-resistant bacterium MRSA, shown here growing on a blood agar plate. – ...

    August 31, 2015
  • Atoms in close-up

    Electron microscopes take us to unseen places.

    “Nothing exists except atoms and empty space,” said Democritus (460-370 BC). Perhaps it was the whiff of baking bread...

    August 31, 2015
  • Could buckyballs make any metal into a magnet?

    A layer of carbon can bestow the powers of magnetism. Viviane Richter explains.

    A magnetic field: Magnets have become crucially important in the computer age, so researchers are seeking to learn ho...

    August 24, 2015
  • Can fish oil prevent schizophrenia?

    Omega-3 fatty acids could stop the onset of full-blown psychosis, according to an Australian clin...

    Fish oil capsules can be taken without side-effects, but unfortunately can be of variable quality. – obewon / Getty I...

    August 24, 2015
  • How to date a Russian cave lion

    The oldest bone sample to be reliably carbon dated is 61,000 years old. Viviane Richter reports.

    A reproduction of the now extinct Russian cave lion, Panthera leo spelaea. – Markus Matzel / ullstein bild via Getty ...

    August 17, 2015
  • A way for solar cells to capture more sunlight

    Researchers find a more efficient method of converting solar rays into electricity. By Viviane Ri...

    Solar panels cannot convert all of the sunlight they are exposed to into electricity. Researchers have found a way to...

    August 17, 2015
  • A new underwater glue inspired by mussels

    A glue-like molecule with a spray and wipe action could be used to repair ships and broken bones....

    The ability of mussels to cling to wet, salty rocks inspired researchers to develop an adhesive that worked underwate...

    August 17, 2015
  • Why the building blocks in our cells turned to the left

    Amino acids could have become “left-handed” on a journey through space. Viviane Richter explains.

    Crystals of glycine, the simplest amino acid. Delivered by meteorites, did amino acids from space seed life on Earth?...

    August 10, 2015
  • Scientific instruments on your mobile phone

    We bring you up to date with mobile phone clip-ons that bring the laboratory to your pocket with ...

    Jeffrey Phillips The smartphone in your pocket connects you to the world wherever you stand. The potential ...

    August 10, 2015
  • Ancient forest microbes live 2.5 kilometres under the sea

    Scientists discover life in 20 million year old coal buried beneath a sea bed. By Viviane Richter.

    A scanning electron microscopy image of the ancient community of microbes found in coal-bed samples located 2.5kms un...

    August 3, 2015
  • Glowing corals discovered deep in the sea

    Scientists have uncovered fluorescing corals 50 metres deep in the Red Sea, but why they emit lig...

    A Red Sea diver shows the depth of a green-glowing Alveopora ocellata coral. – Gal Eyal, Tali Treibitz The ...

    August 3, 2015
  • Growing a 3-D heart chamber in the lab

    Skins cells have been re-programmed to make cardiac cells for drug testing, and may one day make ...

    This tiny 3D heart chamber grown from stem cells, beats and can be used to test drugs. – University of California ...

    July 27, 2015
  • How carbon reached the Earth from the stars

    Carbon, the basis of life, could have travelled to the Earth by way of buckyballs. Viviane Richte...

    Buckyballs, a carbon molecule shaped like a sphere, have long fascinated scientists. Researchers now believe these mo...

    July 27, 2015
  • A gravity machine on a spaceship to Mars

    A human-sized centrifuge may help astronauts counteract muscle wasting and bone loss in space. Vi...

    The mobile centrifuge machine, which creates gravity, in motion in a classroom. It is tilted on one side to counterac...

    July 20, 2015
  • Single cell eyeball creature startles scientists

    This rare, single-celled sea creature has fashioned itself an eye with a basic lens, cornea and r...

    The warnowiid eye, left, and right an illustration of how the single-celled creature has fashioned an eye with basic ...

    July 20, 2015
  • How a flu jab triggered narcolepsy

    Should we be worried about our next flu shot? Research into the swine flu vaccine will make futur...

    In 2009, 30 million Europeans received Pandemrix vaccine to ward off swine flu. An unfortunate few subsequently devel...

    July 13, 2015
  • The obesity fighting mushroom

    The “mushroom of immortality”, a traditional Chinese medicine, seems to counter diabetes and weig...

    The Ganoderma lucidum mushroom has been used in Asia for 2,000 years to promote health and longevity. – Taylor Lockwo...

    July 6, 2015
  • The big five mass extinctions

    Extinctions where more than 75% of the species disappears!

    Biologists suspect we’re living through the sixth major mass extinction. Earth has witnessed five, when more than 75%...

    July 6, 2015
  • A dying cell’s last act

    Before they die, do infected immune cells shout a warning to their neighbours? Viviane Richter re...

    When immune cells get sick, they will often self-destruct to protect the rest of the body from harm. New research sug...

    June 29, 2015
  • Finding traces of life in dinosaur bones

    Blood cells detected in fossilised bones might help scientists track how dinosaurs evolved into b...

    An artist's impression of a Baryonyx dinosaur, a member of the theropod family, fishing in a lagoon. Fossilised thero...

    June 22, 2015
  • The lymphatic drain inside your brain

    Startling anatomical discovery could inspire new treatments for Alzheimer's and other neurolo...

    Has the human brain been hiding a dirty secret? While studying the membranes around a mouse brain, neuroscientist Ant...

    June 15, 2015
  • Lighting up the brain

    Colourful imaging techniques are revealing new insights into the way the brain is wired. Viviane ...

    Delicate ascension ANDREAS ZEMBRZYCKI, SALK INSTITUTE Neuroscientist Andreas Zembr...

    June 8, 2015
  • Concrete buildings that heal themselves

    Bacteria spores are part of a new concrete mix. Viviane Richter reports.

    Workers apply self-healing repair mortar in an underground parking garage. The mortar is mixed with bacterial spores ...

    June 1, 2015
  • The germ at the scene of the crime

    Tracing criminals through microbes might be the next big thing. Viviane Richter reports.

    The bacteria on a person's skin can link them to objects they have touched, which could one day be useful to forensic...

    May 25, 2015
  • One blood type for all looks within reach

    An enzyme that renders foreign red blood cells invisible to the immune system could hold the key ...

    Could blood type testing soon be a thing of the past? – WLADIMIR BULGAR / Getty Images You have a one-in-th...

    May 18, 2015
  • Space radiation might affect how astronauts think

    Tests on mice don't bode well for travellers to Mars. Viviane Richter reports.

    Tempted by a trip to the red planet? You need to be “curious” and “creative” says the Mars One recruitment form. Alas...

    May 11, 2015
  • A kinder, more personal cancer treatment

    Two new devices promise to improve responses to chemotherapy. Viviane Richter reports.

    Oliver Jonas' device (left) is implanted in the tumour where loaded drugs diffuse into the tissue. Presage Bioscience...

    May 4, 2015
  • Why do we have a chin?

    Apart from making us look cute, the chin serves no obvious purpose, writes Viviane Richter.

    Is the chin just an accident of evolution? – Joseph Clark / Getty Images Big, small and sometimes dimpled, ...

    April 27, 2015
  • Are gut bacteria manipulating your mood?

    Intestinal bacteria can boost the body's production of serotonin, the happy brain chemical. V...

    Microbes in the gut do more than aid our digestion – they may also alter our mood. Elaine Hsiao and her team at Calte...

    April 20, 2015
  • Invisible mending for the human body

    Silicon sheets covered with nanoneedles may one day help heal burns and assist with organ transpl...

    An optical microscopic image of human cells (green) sitting on a bed of nanoneedles. DNA has been injected into the ...

    April 20, 2015
  • Nanorobots made from DNA

    Researchers have invented a way to engineer DNA into nanoscale machines. Viviane Richter reports.

    A DNA robot with arms down (left). By dropping the concentration of magnesium chloride the robots were 'swimming' in,...

    April 13, 2015
  • How a dottyback catches his damsel

    The Great Barrier Reef's dottyback fish changes colour to look like its favourite prey, the d...

    A dottyback (rear) eyes off his damselfish prey. By adopting the same colour as the damselfish, the dottyback is able...

    April 6, 2015
  • A better way to capture carbon

    A cheaper and more efficient way to take CO2 out of the atmosphere has been found. Viviane Richte...

    In this carbon-capturing sponge, carbon dioxide molecules don't simply fill the material's pores - they become part o...

    March 30, 2015
  • A gold Trojan nano-horse that fights cancer

    Gold nanoparticles designed to kill cancer cells are showing promise. Viviane Richter reports.

    The Trojan horse is a legend often trotted out to describe new cancer therapies. Natalie Artzi and colleagues at Harv...

    March 16, 2015
  • Electric currents help the mind dream and wander

    Daydreaming is often derided but it is an essential brain function which can be enhanced by elect...

    Electric currents passed through the brain can boost its capacity to daydream without compromising its ability to com...

    March 9, 2015
  • Cracking the codes of human disease

    The Epigenomics Roadmap Program is deepening our understanding of how illnesses develop. Viviane ...

    Just as musical annotation changes the interpretation of a symphony, so too epigenetic modification of DNA determine...

    March 2, 2015
  • Printed solar cells poised for a breakthrough

    Research into alternatives to silicon solar cells is making rapid progress. Viviane Richter reports.

    In one hour the Sun sends enough energy to the Earth to power civilisation for a year – if only we could capture it. ...

    February 23, 2015
  • Space travel is bad for your health

    If we want humans to thrive on Mars, we need to take better care of their immune system while the...

    NASA flight engineer Steve Swanson works out on an exercise bike on the International Space Station. Even frequent ex...

    February 23, 2015
  • Does rotten egg gas flow through the fountain of youth?

    The 5:2 fasting craze helped spread the word about the benefits of a calorie-restricted diet. Now...

    Sulfur baths were celebrated for their health benefits in Roman times, but hydrogen sulfide was later deemed toxic. ...

    January 27, 2015
  • Getting the measure of bacterial defences

    A snapshot of how bacteria design their armour may give us a new way to combat superbugs. By Vivi...

    With superbugs on the rise, scientists are racing to find new ways to fight back. Now microbiologist Chris Whitfield ...

    January 19, 2015
  • Bats – the sonar saboteurs

    Bats jam each other’s signals in airborne battles over prey, Viviane Richter explains.

    A group of Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from a cave at dusk. But some will find their hunting signals jammed by th...

    December 1, 2014

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