To Be Immortal

Turritopsis nutricula can do something amazing. It can turn back the clock. This tiny creature, which beings life as a polyp and then metamorphoses into a jellyfish, can change itself back into a polyp after it has reached maturity. This reversal of aging is caused by cellular transdifferentiation – the transformation of a cell from … Read more

Science and Speculation

Science and Speculation Scientist Seeks Woman to Give Birth Neanderthal Baby In an interview with Der Spiegel Magazine last month, Dr George Church, Professor of Genetics at Harvard University, claimed that now that the Neanderthal genome has been sequenced, a Neanderthal could be cloned using human stem cells, and that a human woman could serve … Read more

Having It All

Recently, I heard someone say that it is unusual for someone to be creative and to understand science and technology. As someone who has been reading science fiction for a very long time, I found this statement quite surprising. You can’t write good science fiction without knowing about science and knowing how to write. I … Read more

Planes, Trains and Past Participles

I’ve just returned from a short break in Stratford-upon-Avon, where Shakespeare was born and where my husband was flying drones (unmanned aerial vehicles). This has made me think about the juxtaposition of the old and the new – not something unusual to me, as I am a science writer living in a walled city that … Read more

Science and Race

The study of race from a scientific perspective has always been controversial. In the 19th century, studies of skull structure were used to “prove” that different races were at different rungs on the evolutionary ladder – the “inferior” races being more ape-like. Some scientists believed that Africans were a missing link between apes and “true”  … Read more

On Altruism

Why do people do things that benefit others but disadvantage themselves? On the surface, altruism seems to be inconsistent with the process of evolution.  If we view evolution as a competition in which the winners survive and reproduce at the expense of the losers, then selfishness should create an evolutionary advantage. In fact, this interpretation … Read more

Meat Eating and Animal Intelligence

Remember when cans of tuna used to say they were dolphin friendly? Some wise guy would always say, “They’re not friendly to tuna, though, are they?” Of course, we all knew what that was about. Dolphins are intelligent. They form social groups. They communicate with sound. They pass the mirror test. A dolphin can learn … Read more