Lucky dip

EUSci now has a fairly extensive archive of fascinating articles- use this page to show you a random selection.

The Hitchhiker's guide to the Twitterverse

The following article was originally a blog post by Prof Dorothy Bishop and has been edited for publication with her permission.

 Created a mere five years ago, Twitter is a micro-blogging platform through which hundreds of millions of users regularly express their views and interests in 'tweets' of no more than 140 characters. If I tell people I’m on Twitter, I tend to get one of three reactions: Read more »

Did you know?

  • Once considered omens of impending catastrophe, comets are in fact collections of cosmic dust and ice. The mesmerising tail of a comet is vapour owing to heat from the sun. King Harold is said to have seen a comet before his eventual death at the Battle of Hastings.
  • Once considered a physical impossibility, black holes are now known to occupy the centre of every galaxy. An object becomes a black hole when its mass is compressed to almost zero volume, which occurs after a supernova. No object can escape its gravitational pull once it crosses the so called ‘event horizon’, not even light.
  • Aliens wanted! The SETI program (Search for Extra-Terrestial Intelligence), scans the sky for electromagnetic waves hoping to detect evidence of distant
    civilisations. Volunteers can assist by committing their computers to processing raw data sent by SETI. This means that your computer could be the first to

Getting science heard by government

The crucial link between science and policy is well understood by Scotland’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Anne Glover. According to the Scottish Science website, her job is to further enhance Scotland’s reputation as a science nation, which she seems more than qualified to do given her achievements to date.

Professor Glover holds the Personal Chair of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Aberdeen and has honorary positions at the Rowett and Macaulay Institutes. She is also an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a member of the Natural Environment Research Council and a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Most of her academic career has been spent at the University of Aberdeen where she has an active research group pursuing a variety of areas. Read more »

Wonderful Life: the cosmic lottery of evolution

What if evolution had gone differently? What if a series of events had allowed species now extinct to survive? The world could be completely different and maybe humans would not exist. In this classic of the popular science literature, Stephen Jay Gould tells the story of a great scientific event, the discovery of Precambrian fossils in the Burgess Shale, British Columbia, and its impact on our understanding of evolution. Read more »

Neuroimaging in the dock

In 2009, evidence from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was submitted to a US court for the first time. The defence for Brian Dugan, a convicted murderer and rapist, suggested that brain scans demonstrating blood flow abnormalities more common in psychopathy should be viewed as a mitigating circumstance when choosing a sentence for his crime. Despite this defence, he was sentenced to death.

Dugan's case was the first use of fMRI in court. However, a range of neuroimaging technologies have had applications in criminal law. They have been used to demonstrate injury, to suggest diminished responsibility for crimes on the basis of brain abnormalities and, most recently, touted as potential truth detectors. This article first describes some notable cases involving neuroimaging, and then considers some possible technical and ethical concerns about the new 'mind reading' machines. Read more »