Water purifying nanofilters from cell membranes

How does water pass through the normally impermeable cell membranes of living organisms? It was not until recently that we understood the mechanism, the discovery of which won Peter Agre the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The answer to the question lies in a single protein, aquaporin. A Danish bio- and nanotechnology startup is now […]

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Allen Carr – an appreciation

This article was published on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website on 29 November 2006. Here’s to Allan Carr, a self-help guru who talked sense and gave millions the strength to quit smoking. The anti-smoking guru Allen Carr has died of lung cancer, 23 years after having quit smoking and committed his life to helping others […]

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Bastard children of the Internet age

This article was published on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website on 23 November 2006. In the political sphere, blogs are little different to the fake democracy of 1990s New Labour focus groups. In his paean to the blogosphere, David Cameron refers to 57 million bloggers as 57 million new newspaper editors. Of these, perhaps 56.9 million can be […]

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Can liberal arts education save university physics?

This article was published on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website on 21 November 2006. Reading University has decided to close its loss-making physics department. Should we be concerned, and what can we do about the crisis in university physics education? As expected, Reading University’s ruling council voted on Monday to close its physics department when […]

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Bring on the Baccalaureate

This article was published on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website on 8 November 2006. Yet another report recommends scrapping A levels and replacing them with the Baccalaureate. Will the government listen this time? Science education has been much in the news of late. Moaners have decried the state of science education in Britain’s schools, and […]

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New whines in old bottles

This article was published on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website on 3 November 2006. When millions are happy to give up privacy in return for loyalty card points, how are we supposed to defend fundamental freedoms? Yesterday saw the publication of a report by Britain’s Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, who calls for a public debate […]

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Time for a new calendar?

Very few follow the Christian religion, yet to some degree we all remain tied to its festivals. Is there an alternative? A few weeks ago, Dave Hill gave us an amusing tale of Muslim youths going around the houses in his part of Hackney in East London, engaging in an Islamified form of the extortion […]

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It’s not about Brits in space

Science education may be in a poor state, but putting Brits into orbit is hardly the answer. The argument for Britain playing a full role in the European Space Agency’s Aurora programme stands on its own, and is based on its supposed scientific merit. The state of science education in the UK is quite another, […]

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On laying down your liver for your country

Human Behaviour 101: Raising taxes on alcohol will not reduce consumption Britain’s Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, is calling for taxes to be raised on alcohol in order to combat binge drinking. Hewitt is thinking principally of the “alcopops” consumed largely by teenagers. Where is the evidence of a correlation between tax and alcohol consumption? As […]

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