Cooperative Slime: A sociable amoeba that sheds light on altruism?

Copyright, M.J. Grimson & R.L. Blanton, Biological Sciences Electron Microscopy Laboratory, Texas Tech University
Copyright, M.J. Grimson & R.L. Blanton, Biological Sciences Electron Microscopy Laboratory, Texas Tech University

The first time I saw a video of a slime mould I was completely captivated. Dictyostelium discoidium is not slimy or a mould, but an amoeba with an amazing ability. When food is plentiful they reproduce simply by Continue reading

Guest podcast: Meet the speaker – Ruth Bancewicz

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Today’s guest post is the first of a new series of podcasts from The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion called Meet the Speaker. In this recording (transcript below) Eleanor Puttock interviews Ruth Bancewicz, asking about the cultural influences that have affected her career in science and religion. Continue reading

Guest Post: T Cells – a wonder and a signpost

Human neutrophil ingesting MRSA - By National Institutes of Health (NIH) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Human neutrophil ingesting MRSA – By National Institutes of Health (NIH) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
There are many amazing complex systems in our bodies, but the immune system beats them all, recognising foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses and parasites and fighting them off.

How do our bodies manage to recognise virtually any kind of foreign invader that we might meet anywhere in the world? Continue reading

The Ultimate Reservoir of Wonder: Questions of science and philosophy

© Jeff Schloss
© Jeff Schloss

What happens when scientists team up with full-time philosophers? This is something that Professor Jeff Schloss has been doing for the last twenty years, exploring questions about altruism, morality and human uniqueness. Continue reading

Creation: Understanding the Drama of Genesis 2-3

Cropped portion of “Bleiglasfenster in der Pfarrkirche Saint-Leu-Saint-Gilles in Paris” from GFreihalter. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license via Wikimedia Commons
Cropped portion of “Bleiglasfenster in der Pfarrkirche Saint-Leu-Saint-Gilles in Paris” from GFreihalter. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported via Wikimedia Commons

Genesis was a very subversive text in its time, and in today’s context we often fail to understand its full significance. This was the message of a lecture by the biblical scholar Ernest Lucas at the Faraday Institute earlier this month. This is the last in a series of three from the Faraday summer course. If you want to find out more, the videos and audio of most of the lectures will be appearing on the Faraday website over the coming weeks*. Continue reading

Curiosity: The search for life on other planets

© Carter Roberts, NASA
© Carter Roberts, NASA

Being chosen to pick the name for a major piece of space exploration must be one of the coolest things that could ever happen to a kid. This is what happened to Continue reading

Assimilation: The genetic history of the human race

freeimages.com/Chris Root
freeimages.com/Chris Root

As someone with largely European ancestry, 1-4% of my DNA is likely to have come from Neanderthals. My mother had red hair, my whole family have white skin, and we are relatively well adapted to the cold. These characteristics could all be faint traces of our Neanderthal ancestry. My friends from the Far East will probably also share a little of their DNA with another race of hominins* called Denisovans, and Africans with yet other ancient hominins.

Why do I find this new information about our ancestry so fascinating? Continue reading