A Brief History of the Higgs Boson

Image: CERN

As anyone in the UK with an interest in science will know the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Prof Peter Higgs and Prof Francois Englert for “the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the […]

Toward A Greener Future

Like it or not, the ‘green issue’ has dominated the world’s energy agenda in recent times. The issue centres simply on producing a world powered by efficient, sustainable and renewable energy sources, whilst becoming more responsible and less wasteful inhabitants in the process. In theory: fantastic. The practicalities of this, however, are somewhat more challenging. […]

‘Life, but not as we know it’ : Astrobiology in St Andrews and beyond, Part IV

Alternatives to carbon-based life In Robert Grossman’s famous cartoon, published in ‘The New Yorker’ in 1962, an alien crawls from his crashed spaceship across a barren desert. Instead of water, he cries out for ‘Ammonia! Ammonia!’ It postulates the existence of life forms that rely have a different biochemistry from our own, and as a […]

What Are You Really Drinking…?

…Well, thanks to a new technique for detecting toxic spirits developed by researchers in the School of Physics and Astronomy here at the Univeristy of St Andrews, we may soon be able to know that for sure. Deaths and injuries due to ‘bootleg drinks’ are a problem in many countries where methanol is often added […]

‘Life, but not as we know it’ : Astrobiology in St Andrews and beyond, Part III

With a few exceptions, literary and cinematic depictions of aliens have been woefully unimaginative. Such representations often fall into stereotypical images, perhaps indicating the writer’s deeper interest in plot and character, than in exploring the speculative possibilities of the alien race..

‘Life, but not as we know it’ : Astrobiology in St Andrews and beyond, Part II

Knowledge of the depth and vastness of space makes the study and exploration of this realm both alluring and terrifying. Even before the invention of the telescope in the 17th century, ancient cultures believed in mythological other-worlds inhabited by mythical, non-human beings.

Counting Crows (and other feathered creatures)

One for sorrow, two for joy, Three for a girl, and four for a boy,
 Five for silver, six for gold,
 Seven for a secret, never to be told.   Later this year, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) will publish a monumental update to three of its previous major publications.  The former British and […]

Sonic Booms

On the 16th of June 2013, Cambridgeshire, Essex and Hertfordshire Police and Fire services received numerous calls of a possible explosion. Residents of certain areas of East Anglia heard a loud detonation, reported windows shaking (in some cases smashing) and one tree was reported to have fallen. In my own house (near Cambridge), the windows shook […]

‘Life, but not as we know it’ : Astrobiology in St Andrews and beyond, Part I

In April, the UK Centre for Astrobiology hosted the UK’s 5th astrobiology conference at the University of Edinburgh. Focusing on ‘Molecules and Life in Extremes,’ the conference attracted 140 delegates and involved over 45 posters and 35 presentations. The Scottish University Physics Alliance  (SUPA) is providing the opportunity for closer links between astrobiology research in Edinburgh and […]

Animal Intelligence: could they be as smart as us?

Measuring intelligence is hard, even amongst humans. It is a concept to which many dimensions can be applied. Therefore, if a scale of intelligence were to be created, individuals might rank differently upon this depending on which parameter you choose to study. This makes measuring intelligence across species even more difficult. When comparing other animals […]

Copyright Sci@StAnd 2013