Researchers in the USA have found that eating dark chocolate has several benefits for both brain and body, according to the results of two new studies that were presented last year. Eating chocolate that is at least 70% cacao has positive effects on mood, memory, inflammation and immunity. One could almost say it reduces stress... but we knew that already, right?The effect of chocolate on cats and dogs, however, is very different. Chocolate can be poisonous to pets, due to the presence of a compound called theobromine. Humans can metabolise theobromine easily, but dogs and cats can not, resulting in a build-up of potentially toxic levels.Symptoms of [...]
In 2018, Canadian mum of two Donna Strickland became only the third woman ever to win the Nobel Prize for Physics, following in the footsteps of fellow science mums Marie Curie (1903) and Maria Goeppert Mayer (1963). Donna shared her prize with her collaborator Gerard Mourou, for their work on high intensity laser pulses, and with Arthur Ashkin for his work on 'optical tweezers'. In her acceptance speech, Donna quoted the Cyndi Lauper song 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun', saying 'I don't want to wait 'til the working day is done. I want to have fun at work.' You can read more [...]
Maria Merian was born in Germany in 1647. She began collecting caterpillars when she was 13, and later painted them in various stages of their life cycle. Her patient observations and detailed paintings provided the first evidence of the process of metamorphosis (when a caterpillar enters a cocoon and emerges as a butterfly). Maria was the mother of two small children, and bore all of the responsibility of caring for them and managing her home, whilst remaining dedicated to her work. She also taught painting as a means of supporting herself and her children. You can read a longer article about Maria Merian here .
The town of Winton in outback Queensland is one of Australia's most important locations for dinosaur fossils. Last week it was revealed that a team of volunteers and paleontologists had worked together on nearby Karoola station to excavate a very rare find: a set of footprints belonging to three different types of dinosaur, including the first set of sauropod footprints found in Australia. They removed the prints just before the arrival of destructive monsoonal rains and took them to the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum in Winton, where they will go on display. In this video, paleontologist Dr Stephen Poropat discusses how the [...]
In late 2013, palaeontologists in Patagonia, Argentina made an exciting discovery. Now, more than six years of careful work later, their discovery has finally been unveiled to the world: Bajadasaurus pronuspinax, a new species of dinosaur that lived approximately 140 million years ago. From the fossil evidence uncovered, it is believed that Bajadasaurus was a sauropod (the family of dinosaurs with long necks and long tails) with a very distinctive feature: A row of fearsome-looking spikes running down its spine that probably served as a deterrent to predators. This image is an artists impression of what Bajadasaurus may have looked like. [...]
In March 2006, Cyclone Larry smashed into North Queensland, right into the state’s prime banana-growing region. 90% of the crop was destroyed, creating a huge shortage of the fruit. Banana prices around Australia soared to as high as $14 per kg, or about $3 per banana. The industry recovered within a year, however, in 2011, Cyclone Yasi arrived and wreaked the same havoc all over again. Our thanks and respect goes to Queensland banana farmers - after weathering two huge storms in five years, they continue to produce beautiful bananas for the rest of us to enjoy. [...]
Dr Jon Zawislak is a Hurricane Hunter. He is an atmospheric scientist whose laboratory is a specially-equipped plane that is flown right into severe storms to collect data on windspeed, air pressure, temperature and humidity. All the data is sent to his colleagues in the USA’s National Hurricane Centre to help form predictions and get information out to the public. And yes, it is a very bumpy ride. Jon described his most recent flight, right into the eye of Hurricane Michael, as ‘extreme’.
All magnetic objects contain a metal, but not all metals are magnetic. The most common magnetic metals are iron, nickel and cobalt. Neodymium is a rare earth metal that is combined with iron and another element called boron to make very powerful magnets that are capable of lifting a thousand times their own weight! Magnets have two distinct ends called ‘poles’ (North and South). The north pole of one magnet will attract the south pole of another magnet, but it will repel (push away) the north pole of the other magnet. (This is easily remembered with the phrase ‘opposites attract’.) [...]
What is Photosynthesis? Photosynthesis is a process carried out by all green plants. The plants use carbon dioxide and water to make oxygen and a sugar called glucose. The glucose might be used by the plant for energy, or stored in the form of starch. Glucose and starch are carbohydrates – food sources that animals (like us) need to eat as a source of energy, as, unlike plants, we cannot make our own food. The process of photosynthesis removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releases oxygen into the atmosphere – oxygen that animals (like us) need to breathe. Whilst [...]
Skunk cabbage, Stinking iris, dead horse flower...the names of these plants certainly don’t make you want to buy a bunch of them and inhale deeply. Some plants produce an unpleasant smell, often of rotting flesh, to attract insects that would normally feed on dead animals. Insects landing on the plant then get covered in the plants seeds or pollen, and then spread the seeds or pollen as they move around. The species that earns the title of ‘World’s Stinkiest Plant’ is the Titan Arum, or ‘corpse flower’. This plant is native to Indonesia and can grow to an enormous height [...]