Part 2: Spot The Difference

Fact: Pigeons can detect breast cancer. Dogs aren’t the only ones with supernatural medical powers: new research suggests that pigeons could one day be working in hospitals saving lives. Spotting the presence of cancer in a tissue sample is an incredibly important but difficult part of diagnosing cancer. It involves pathologists pouring over histological images looking for…

Part 1: North By North-West

Fact: Birds have a built-in compass. Ever get lost out in the hills and think ‘I wish I had brought a pigeon with me’? Me neither, but turns out they are as good at finding North as any compass. How birds sense the Earth’s magnetic field – a phenomenon called magnetoreception – is not exatly settled. There…

Reaction Times

Fact: We can only really do two things: contract a muscle or secrete a liquid. You might think of yourself as a walking, talking marvel of nature but when you break it down humans – just like all animals – are very limited in the ways we can interact with our environment. Take any activity you…

Pearly Whites

Fact: Pearls dissolve in vinegar. Pearls are as solid as rocks, but drop your necklace in a glass of vinegar and watch your favourite pearls melt away before your eyes. It might seem outlandish, but really its just simple chemistry. The trick is that pearls are simply calcium carbonate crystals (or CaCO3, if you’re feeling academic…