September 2012 archive

Sep 30

Domestic science

Salticus scenicus [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

Humans share their homes with a surprising number of other species, even discounting the ones they deliberately import to serve as allergen distribution machines. Autumn is a particularly good time to go spotting the spiders that cohabit with us, as many of them are grown fat and sleek on the flies of summer, and are …

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Sep 25

Far from the light of day, and somewhere near Hampstead

Paddock door with fungus [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

Paddock is the codename of a bunker that was built in the late 1930s as a back-up for the better known Cabinet War Rooms located in Whitehall. The bunker was abandoned at the end of the war, and was only used intermittently after that by the Post Office, whose Research Station sat atop it. In 1998, the surface site and the bunker were sold off, …

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Sep 10

A brief history of rubbish

Contents of the human genome [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Steve Cook]

In 1972, the geneticist Susumu Ohno coined the term “junk DNA” to explain why the genomes of closely related organisms vary so much in size: The mammalian genome […] contains roughly […] 3.0 × 109 base pairs. This is at least 750 times the genome size of E. coli. If we take the simplistic assumption that …

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