Part 2: A Burning Question

Fact: Birds can’t taste chilli. Due to a quirk of biology a pigeon could wolf down your vindaloo while you whimper and sweat in the corner like a little girl. This strange fact comes down to the fact that chillies are a fruit. Plants work exceptionally hard to produce fruit, so they don’t just give it…

Part 1: Burn Baby Burn

Fact: Capcaisin makes chillies hot. Put a foot wrong when ordering in your local curry house and you could easily find yourself downing pints of milk to try and stop the fire in your mouth. But what causes that burning sensation? It’s all down to a single molecule called capcaisin. This molecule causes irritation and a burning…

Cutting Edge

Fact: The iKnife can detect cancer instantly during surgery. Cancer isn’t much fun, but modern medicine is helping us win the fight. Treatments are getting ever more sophisticated, but sometimes the best bet for curing cancer is good old fashioned surgery to just cut out the tumour. However, cancer is made up of your own…

Does Not Compute

Fact: The term ‘bug’ in computing comes from an adventurous moth. When software doesn’t work properly, we might call it a glitch or a malfunction. But most of all we think of it as a ‘bug’ – remember the millennium scare of the Y2K bug, which some thought would cause a total collapse of the…

Crimping Your Style

Fact: The crimp on a Cornish pasty can protect you from being poisoned. This might sound like superstition or hearsay, but lets take a look back in history. Like us all the miners in Cornish tin mines needed lunch, but tupperware was less of a thing 50 years ago and no-one had time for carrying cutlery…

Part 4: When Hell Freezes Over

Fact: A snowball can survive in hell. To round off this 4-part series, I give you the possibly the craziest experiment of all – dunking a snowball into a vat of molten metal and expecting it not to melt. Molten metal (or slag) reaches about 1,700°C, making a metal foundry the closest thing to ‘hell…

Part 3: The Wall Talks Back

Fact: Walls are great listeners. Like talking to a brick wall – a classic phrase to describe someone so stubborn they simply refuse to hear what you’re saying. But what if I told you we’ve got that all wrong? To prove a point, take this experiment performed on the Berlin wall. A kind old man…

Part 2: Genie In A Bottle

Fact: You can catch lightning in a jar. Anyone remember the story of Benjamin Franklin trying to use a kite and a layden jar (an early piece of tech that we now call a capacitor – think of it as the first battery) to store the power of lightning in a bottle? Luckily for him, that day no lightning…

Part 1: Ding Dong Merrily

Fact: You can ‘unring’ a bell. You thought unboiling an egg was impossible? You haven’t seen anything yet. The famous phrase ‘you can’t unring a bell’ is meant to highlight the consequences of our actions to make us think more carefully about what we do before we do it. But it might be a bit…

The NHS Should Be Free – But Only For The Young

In celebration of this blog’s 1st birthday, I’m publishing an opinion piece. Please read it accordingly.  It’s a social marvel that provides free healthcare to our entire population regardless of class, wealth, ethnicity, sex or age. However, we all agree that the NHS is in financial trouble. Ideally this would be fixed by dramatically increased funding,…

Downside Up

Fact: after being upside down for a week, you start seeing things the right way up. I’ll admit I took a bit of poetic license with the title, but it’s true – we quickly adapt to seeing things upside down. The logic behind studying what appears at first to be a bit of a joke area of science lies…

Hearts and Minds

Fact: Your brain can survive without your heart… for a while. If your heart stops, you’re a goner unless someone can get it started again pretty much immediately. Right? Well, actually, you might be OK for quite some time. When your heart stops pumping, your blood stops moving and the brain becomes starved of both oxygen and…