Latest from Birmingham Post science...
Apparently I am not a gamer! Whilst I was obviously devastated to hear this at first, I was able to overcome my distress and continue with the Birmingham Cafe Scientifique earlier this month and to find out if games are changing the world.
I will be honest and say that I didn't really know what to expect from the evening; I didn't have any real idea about serious games are. There was something about the concept of games being serious that struck me as being potentially interesting and I am relieved to say that it was a really fascinating evening. It was early on in the evening when I made my faux pas and asked if 'Call of Duty' was the war-based equivalent of the games that I see Sheldon et al play on The Big Bang Theory. A) it is not, and B) if you don't know this then you are 'so not a gamer'. Mind you, if anyone is going to tell you that you are not a gamer, then the Director of Research, Prof Sara de Freitas, at the Serious Games Institute of Coventry University is probably one of the best people to be able to tell you this!
One of the recent trends in technology is the move to the cloud. But what does this mean for people, and why is it happening?
For some people, the thought of growing old is worrying. Here at Aston, we say that's the wrong way to think about ageing; the way to a long and fulfilling life is to maximise your healthy lifespan.
Last week, we held a showcase event to tell older people, community leaders, other academics, and business people how. For here at Aston University where I work, there's a great deal of stuff going on that can make a big difference.
Science and the city. Two events yesterday. First, I dropped into the buzz of 150 people, top-notch scientists and ordinary citizens, gathered at the showcase event held at the Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing, whose Director is Roslyn Bill, one of the New Optimists. There was pure science stuff, high tech stuff -- and the social policy stuff, all bent around enabling thee and me to have a great old age. I approve!
Then in the evening you could have found me and others providing a running commentary under the hashtag #scicap at Science Capital's meeting in the city centre. Science Capital is where scientists, businesspeople and investors meet.
Two brill scientists, both New Optimists, Charlie Craddock and Paul Moss led the first half of the evening. In the second half, Charles de Rohan of The Binding Site took over along with Gordon McKenzie who co-founded Michelson Diagnostics in 2006 after completing his PhD at Warwick.
At first sight (no pun intended) this is a rather strange question to ask. We all know what we mean by colour and we all generally agree on which colours are which, in which case, how much discussion is there to be had on the subject of 'what is colour?' How wrong could I have been! This month's Birmingham Café Scientifique asked this very question and our guide for the night was Prof Tom Marsh of the University of Warwick, an astrophysicist by trade. Not only is the concept of colour very important to him professionally, but he also has a keen interest in the human psyche and our perceptions of colour.
Bacteria can help kill cancer cells! That's what the headlines said on Monday, but did you know that microbes - the things we are often (wrongly) told to steer clear of - have been known to have an effect on cancer cells for hundreds of years?
It's my job to keep on top of all the news stories about microbiology. So anything about bacteria, viruses, fungi - if you can't see it, I need to know about it.
Steve Jobs is one of the richest men in the world. However, whilst this may also be true financially, I think his true riches actually come from the supreme achievement of creating beauty and happiness in the world. He was, until a few days ago, Chief Executive of Apple, the iconoclastic leader of a company that created some of the most desirable products of our age.
For over 200 years the Potteries has been home to businesses who have driven forward development of the pottery industry.
So now in the 21st century its no surprise that a specialist materials business from the region is at the forefront of shaping how ceramics can be used as advanced materials for use in new markets.
Stoke-on-Trent based CERAM Research specialises in working with manufacturers to develop new materials that are lighter, stronger or hold advanced proprieties to enable materials to be used in new ways.
They've been working with companies from across the world to develop materials that are used in a wealth of applications including healthcare, aerospace, automotive, construction, electronics, energy and environmental products.
At first, their latest development project that will research how ceramics can be used a material for hip replacements, may seem to have fragile chances of success.
But CERAM Research's scientists believe that by fusing one of our most basic materials, ceramics, with high tech science they can transform a brittle material into one that's stronger, lighter and tougher, enabling it to be used in new ways.
It was very interesting to read Jack Cohen's article on the demise of Archaeopteryx: in it he highlighted a worrying issue - that of the need for certainty in our society. All good science and scientists are in the business of 'changing their minds' - that is, continuously developing theories that are the best stories we can tell that offer the simplest description of the available evidence.
Maybe you've never heard of Archaeopteryx. But it's held a special place in the theory of evolution for over 150 years. The word means "ancient wing", and it's the name of a strange fossil, half-bird and half-reptile; it had, for example, both feathers and teeth.
A German miner found the first one in 1861, two years after Charles Darwin published The Origin of the Species. It was considered by many to be a perfect "missing link" in his theory of evolution by natural selection. Indeed, it's been a mainstay of his theory.
Until recently, that is.