Tech

How to determine a protein’s shape

ABOUT 120,000 types of protein molecule have yielded up their structures to science. That sounds a lot, but it isn’t. The techniques, such as X-ray crystallography and nuclear-magnetic resonance (NMR), which are used to elucidate such structures do not work on all proteins. Some types are hard to produce or purify in the volumes required. Others do not seem to ...

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Hans Rosling, statistician and sword-swallower, has died

STATISTICS has not, traditionally, been an exciting word. Its most common prefix is the word “dry”. Ask people what they think of statistics, or try to use some in an argument, and you will often get the quote attributed to Benjamin Disraeli that lists them alongside lies and damned lies. That is a shame: tables of figures may look dull, ...

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Plans for artificial pollinators are afoot

IT IS, in one way, the ultimate drone. In another, though, it is the antithesis of what a drone should be. Drones are supposed to laze around in the hive while their sisters collect nectar and pollinate flowers. But pollination is this drone’s very reason for existing. The drone in question is the brainchild of Eijiro Miyako, of the National ...

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How to determine a protein’s shape

ABOUT 120,000 types of protein molecule have yielded up their structures to science. That sounds a lot, but it isn’t. The techniques, such as X-ray crystallography and nuclear-magnetic resonance (NMR), which are used to elucidate such structures do not work on all proteins. Some types are hard to produce or purify in the volumes required. Others do not seem to ...

Read More »

Cultural evolution and the mutilation of women

GENES that increase an individual’s reproductive output will be preserved and spread from generation to generation. That is the process of evolution by natural selection. More subtly, though, in species that have the sorts of learnable, and thus transmissible, behaviour patterns known as culture, cultural changes that promote successful reproduction are also likely to spread. This sort of cultural evolution ...

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The promise of augmented reality

SCIENCE fiction both predicts the future and influences the scientists and technologists who work to bring that future about. Mobile phones, to take a famous example, are essentially real-life versions of the hand-held communicators wielded by Captain Kirk and his crewmates in the original series of “Star Trek”. The clamshell models of the mid-2000s even take design cues directly from ...

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The woes of Windows 10

DESPITE its having been available for 18 months, three out of four PC owners have not bothered to upgrade their computers to the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system, Windows 10. More than 700m of the world’s 1.5bn or so computers continue to run on Windows 7, a piece of software three generations old. A further 300m users have stuck ...

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