Articles

Four colourful cartoon people stand in a line, each with an opening inside their chest displaying a set of chromosomes. The second person in line has an additional set of chromosomes and patches of a different colour on their body, representing chimerism.

Can we trust DNA? — Lydia Fairchild’s story

DNA is a unique biological molecule often referred to as the building block of life. In today’s society, identification of organisms or their relationships depends on DNA: For instance, determining someone’s identity from forensic evidence or conducting blood relation tests relies on an individual’s unique DNA sequence. This connection can be seen in our lives in situations like court cases and even as common as television shows! We trust the certainty of DNA to guide us in times of uncertainty.

person listening to music and having nostalgic feelings about her and her friend having a good time together.

Oh My God, I Know That Song!

You’re at a party. It’s pretty relaxed, people are chatting and you’re sitting in the living room with a friend. All of a sudden, “Last Friday Night” booms through the speakers. In a second, everyone is on the dance floor. “Yeah, we danced on tabletops, and we took too many shots / Think we kissed but I forgot / Last Friday night” Throwback after throwback plays, and by the end of the night your throat hurts from singing and you’re giddy from laughing with your friends. But what makes just one song capable of completely shifting the mood of so many people for an entire night? That’s a great question — it all has to do with the effect of nostalgia!

An illustrated scientist floats amongst giant particles. He observes sine waves illuminated on a holograph. A laser in the background captures rays of light illuminated from the giant particle.

How Tabletop Physics can Uncover Secrets of our Universe

Many of the most awe-inspiring unsolved problems in physics deal with extremes of our universe —from the happenings of subatomic particles to those at the centres of black holes. Some of them tackle whether we can reconcile our existing understandings of these disparate regimes. Could we someday have a unifying theory of the physics of both the smallest and largest scales in the universe?

Silhouette of a mouse within a maze. Cyan and magenta coloured light beams originate from its brain and intertwine to form a DNA double-helix shape.

Let There Be Light: Optogenetics and the Brain

Imagine this: someone puts a light bulb in your brain. As the bulb switches on and off, it controls the activity of your brain cells. By targeting different cells, it might make you feel intense emotions, wake you up or put you to sleep, or even make you temporarily smarter.

A pterodactyl, bird, bat, bee, and a butterfly are colourfully illustrated mid-flight. The background is entirely grey, and shows a tree and flowers in front of clouds.

Taking Flight: Aviators in the Animal Kingdom

Pterosaurs, birds, bats, and insects were the first to evolve the ability to fly, and in modern times, insects, birds, and bats are capable of true flight. So how exactly did this nearly 400 million year old process first start?

Start screen of a video game titled "The Fat Bear Tournament", portraying different bears as different characters. The subtitle prompts you to "choose your fighter". The winning bear, Otis, is shown in the centre between two other bears.

The Fat Bear Tournament

At this time of year, some animals are eating and sleeping more than usual to prepare themselves for the frigid weather ahead—and for their long winter ‘nap’. You see, these animals protect themselves in the harsh winter conditions by hibernating. Right now, you’re probably picturing a bear falling into a deep sleep throughout the winter, but there’s actually more to the story!

On the bottom right, a person with their brain drawn holds their head thinking of a past incident where another person hit them with a soccer ball (drawn top left). Calendar pages are drawn across the illustration diagonally.

A Lasting Impact: Post-Concussion Syndrome

While most people recover from concussions within a couple of weeks, about half of concussion patients report symptoms for multiple months, with 10-15% of them reporting symptoms for more than a year after a head injury. When concussion symptoms last for longer than expected, it’s called post-concussion syndrome (PCS).

A pitch drop experiment on a table in which pitch is slowly dripping from a glass cone into a beaker below. The entire setup is covered by a glass dome. In the background, calendar pages are floating around with various years written on them.A pitch drop experiment on a table in which pitch is slowly dripping from a glass cone into a beaker below. The entire setup is covered by a glass dome. In the background, calendar pages are floating around with various years written on them.

Pitch Drop Experiments

Did you know that there is a Guinness World Record for longest continuously running laboratory experiment? An experiment that started back in 1927 is still running!

A person sleeping peacefully.

The Elite Sleeping Genes

“Everyone needs at least 8 hours of sleep!” How many times have you heard this phrase growing up? Certainly, we can all attest to hearing this from a parent after staying up binging our favourite show or pulling an all-nighter before a test. But in reality, do we actually need all 8 hours?

At the sea floor, two sponge crabs are tipping their sponge hats to one another. In addition, three sea-urchins are each wearing a hat.

Crabs Wearing Hats: Why Are Marine Animals Using Tools

In 2011, researchers came across something puzzling on 3.4-million-year-old fossilized bones: cut marks. Someone had cleaned and cut these bones—possibly using a pointy stone! The culprit? A member of Australopithecus afarensis, Lucy’s species.