Last updated 03/09/2006
2 Sep 2006 A minor update just to remove some of the scripts I had been linking to that suddenly had started popping up nasty advertising on the page. Sorry about that everyone. Also, just to satisfy Ian: I still only have one head, and it still has hair on it.
24 Oct 2005 By popular (?) demand here's a quick update on what I'm doing now: I'm currently working for a city startup (how long can one justify calling it a startup?) called Columba Systems. I'm working with Chris and the office is just accross the road from Tammay and Richard.
Some time ago now, I did a Ph.D. with the Hot-Star Group at University College London. My main research interest is in the field of photospheric abundances in O stars, but my work to date has also included a study of rotational velocities of O and B stars. A CD version of my thesis is available upon request.
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New Scientist - News
Ants with fussy personalities help colonies find better homes
Forget ants all being mindless clones. Fussy individuals that learn from past experience are crucial for helping a colony choose the right place to live
Ancestor of all vertebrates was a big mouth with no anus
A tiny fossil from China could be the earliest of all deuterostomes, creatures that eventually led to evolution of all vertebrates, including humans
Being ?hangry? exists: why a lack of food can change your mood
Falling blood sugar levels accompanying hunger do cause us to get angry, irritable and aggressive, even towards loved ones
Completely paralysed people use thoughts to say they are happy
Many assume that people ?locked-in? by ALS have a low quality of life, but a non-invasive device that can read ?yes? and ?no? thoughts has found the opposite
Planet Earth makes its own water from scratch deep in the mantle
Computer simulation confirms that water can form within our planet rather than arriving from space, and the process may explain mysterious deep quakes
Long-lost continent found submerged deep under Indian Ocean
The continent of "Mauritia" sunk as it was stretched out like plasticine by the plate tectonics that drew India and Madagascar apart some 85 million years ago
Trump?s travel ban is already stopping scientific collaboration
Scientists inside and outside the US have had their plans disrupted by Donald Trump?s travel restrictions, and some fear it could lead to a brain drain
Call off the breakfast wars and pass another slice of toast
Despite a large serving of negative dietary advice, the first meal of the day is not a danger to one and all, say chef Anthony Warner and nutritionist Laura Thomas
Pom-pom crabs prune their living decorations like bonsai trees
These teensy crustaceans tear one anemone into two, splitting them into identical pairs that then grow as new, living pom-poms on their claws
Chimps beat up, murder and then cannibalise their former tyrant
A gang of chimps overthrew their alpha male, ostracised him for years and then killed him when he returned
AI just won a poker tournament against professional players
A poker-playing artificial intelligence has claimed victory against humans, winning with a lead of $1.7 million by constantly tweaking its strategy
World?s first time crystals cooked up using new recipe
Two independent teams of physicists have built crystals of an enigmatic form of matter that repeats in time rather than space
No room for complacency over threats from space
Asteroid impacts pose a perennial threat to Earth, so we should be alarmed that two planned missions to study asteroids' make-up face the axe
Oxygen ions sent from Earth have been spotted on the moon
Earth?s magnetic field sends streams of oxygen ions towards the moon every month ? and that could give us clues to our planet?s early atmosphere
Voice-checking device stops hackers hijacking your Siri or Alexa
To stop imposters causing mayhem by telling your voice-activated assistant what to do, a wearable device can help check whether it is the owner speaking
Higher unemployment linked to more shootings at schools
An analysis of 381 shootings at US schools and colleges since 1990 found a link between gun violence and several measures of economic insecurity
We don?t need a huge blue grab to save sharks and rays
Amid calls to ring-fence nearly a third of oceans to protect marine life, it now seems a fraction of that could save key species, says Lesley Evans Ogden
AI tracks your every move and tells your boss if you?re slacking
Big Brother comes to the workplace. An AI system monitors employee behaviour to detect when they might pose a security threat and track productivity
Goat plague wipes out 10 per cent of endangered antelopes
The Mongolian saiga antelope population has been decimated by a disease that usually affects livestock ? the first instance in wild antelopes
We should have no beef with bureaucracy if it keeps food safe
Free trade is on the agenda, but the unwelcome return of BSE is a reminder that it mustn?t compromise food safety
Yellow fever outbreak is killing off rare monkeys in Brazil
Up to 90 per cent of brown howler monkeys in one area may have died already and fear of them spreading yellow fever to humans has led to reprisal attacks
Wood-burners: London air pollution is just tip of the iceberg
Sold as an eco-friendly way to heat our homes, wood-burning stoves might actually be a disaster for their owners? health and for the climate
US scientists can look to Canada for ways to fight a crackdown
The Trump administration seems to want to rein scientists in, just as Canada did until recently ? and it's there we should look for lessons in fighting back
How almost-impossible video games can create euphoric moments
For many gamers, overcoming an enormous challenge that once seemed impossible is one of the most ecstatic experiences games can provide
Memories can be disconnected ? and it could help those with PTSD
An innocuous smell or sound can be enough to trigger painful memories of trauma. Now researchers have found a way to disconnect linked memories in mice.
Genetic fix can make mass-produced tomatoes taste great again
Intensive breeding has made many vegetables lose the gene variations that give them great flavour, but now we?ve identified them, we can put them back
Metallic hydrogen finally made in lab at mind-boggling pressure
Diamonds, low temperatures and pressures way above what's found at Earth's centre were used to create a form of hydrogen foreseen back in the 1930s
Uber hasn?t taken taxi drivers? jobs but has slashed their wages
The arrival of Uber in US cities hasn't reduced the number of traditional taxi drivers, but it has cut their hourly wages by up to 10 per cent, say economists
How LSD affects the brain and creates its trippy effect
There's renewed interest in using LSD to treat a range of psychiatric conditions. New findings probe how it works and hint at ways to use it therapeutically
The world just ticked a bit closer to Doomsday thanks to Trump
Donald Trump's first days as US president confirms our choice to move the symbolic Doomsday clock forward, says Raymond Pierrehumbert
AI agony aunt learns to dole out relationship advice online
A Japanese tech company trained an AI to answer questions about love, which requires it to deal with ?non-factoid? queries that are often long and complex
More empathy isn?t the right prescription to heal our planet
If only we could all have greater empathy then the world would become a better place, right? Wrong, says psychologist Paul Bloom
Giant flying reptile was top predator like a winged T. rex
Strong neck bones suggest a pterosaur was top predator on lost world island in Transylvania, swooping in to swallow dwarf dinosaurs the size of a small horse
Gene-blocking therapy reverses Alzheimer?s-like symptoms in mice
An antisense therapy that targets tau protein tangles in the brain has improved memory and extended lifespan in mice, and successfully targeted tau in monkeys
Gene editing has saved the lives of two children with leukaemia
Two young girls are both doing well more than a year after being treated with gene-edited cells. Clinical trials of the therapy are now getting started
Should NHS limit spending on treatments for rare diseases?
As pressures on the National Health Service grow, should costly new treatments for rare diseases get a tougher ride, wonders Zara Aziz
Earth?s water must have arrived here earlier than we thought
Our best theory said meteorites brought water to Earth 4.5 billion years ago, now it seems they struck far earlier, while our planet?s core was still forming
Animals that grow designer organs for humans are a step closer
For the first time mouse pancreases have developed in rats, with islet cells used to cure mouse diabetes. This raises hopes we could grow human organs in pigs
Earth?s water must have arrived here earlier than we thought
Our best theory said meteorites brought water to Earth 4.5 billion years ago, now it seems they struck far earlier, while our planet?s core was still forming
Dried-up slime could help microbes survive briny waters on Mars
Colonies of bacteria called biofilms live longer in Mars-like waters ? especially if they were dried out first, as they would be after hitching a ride through space
AI rivals dermatologists at spotting early signs of skin cancer
A neural network performs as well as dermatologists at spotting cancerous moles and could let people check any skin lesions at home with an app
Vacuum transfer advance will help redefine kilogram next year
Abandoning the old prototype kilogram stored in Paris will require accurate mass measurements in a vacuum, something new techniques will make easier
New hermit crab has candy-stick legs and a giant spoon-like claw
A previously unknown Caribbean crab has been seen ? it?s just a few millimetres long, sports bright red and white stripes, and has a large scoop-like claw
Does UK-EU science have a future with a hard Brexit looming?
Astronomer Chris Leigh campaigned for the UK to leave the EU. With a hard Brexit likely, he sets out his vision for preserving British-European research ties
The Alzheimer?s problem: Why we are struggling to find a cure
Touted breakthroughs keep coming to nothing. Are we close to a cure, or have we got the disease all wrong? The results of three trials should tell us
Hit threatening asteroids? bright spots to deflect them
Paler, softer rock is the best target if we want to knock incoming asteroids off course, suggests a study of the Chelyabinsk meteor that blew up over Russia
Can IBM?s principles for taming AI win over public doubts?
Technology giant IBM has unveiled key pledges to encourage us to trust in artificial intelligence. Will it work, wonders Jamais Cascio
Starting periods at a young age is linked to early menopause
Girls who begin menstruating before their 12th birthday may be more likely to hit the menopause before age 40, and find it more difficult to have children
The folds in your brain may be linked to how neurotic you are
Brain scans of 500 people have revealed an association between the thickness and structure of the cortex, and how neurotic or open a person is
Parasite turns wasp into zombie then drills through its head
It?s Russian dolls of nature?s manipulators: a wasp that fools oak trees to make it a crypt to live in is in turn made to drill a route out of the crypt by another wasp
Smart buildings predict when critical systems are about to fail
Start-ups use sensors and machine learning to do ?predictive maintenance?, spotting faults in building systems like heating and air con before they crash
Foxes may confuse predators by rubbing themselves in puma scent
Gray foxes in the mountains of California rub in the scent of pumas, possibly to absorb their smell and confuse predators to give themselves a chance to run
Light-speed camera snaps light?s ?sonic boom? for the first time
A camera system that mimics a beam of light breaking its own speed limit could find uses in everything from medical imaging to astronomy
Many more people could still die from mad cow disease in the UK
A man who has died of vCJD has shown that the disease can affect a second genetic subtype of people. It?s likely these people take longer to develop symptoms
Real-life psychopaths actually have below-average intelligence
They may be manipulative, dishonest and callous, but the typical psychopath is no Hannibal Lecter. In fact, they tend to get lower scores on intelligence tests
Plasma tidal wave may tell us if black holes destroy information
Physicists have long puzzled over whether black holes destroy information or conserve it ? now a proposed lab experiment could use a plasma wave to find out
Robot skin senses warm bodies like a snake locating nearby prey
A heat-sensing membrane could be applied to robots like a Westworld-style ?skin dip? and give them the ability to detect human bodies from a distance
Injections of sex-related hormone increase arousal in the brain
A small study has found that injections of a hormone called kisspeptin can enhance the response of young men?s brains to sexual or romantic pictures of couples
Virtual out-of-body experience reduces your fear of death
After a near-death experience, people often describe floating out of their bodies. Recreating the sensation with VR can make people less anxious about dying
Exotic black holes caught turning into a superfluid
A model of a higher-dimensional black hole matches what happens when liquid helium loses all its stickiness, a coincidence that could help study both oddities
Trump ditched Obama?s climate and water policies on first day
White House signals intention to cancel Obama?s Climate Action Plan and expand oil and gas exploration
Whale sharks? secrets revealed by live-tracking aquatic drones
Whale sharks dive deep and swim far, making them hard to monitor. A Honduras project is using aquatic drones to track the world?s biggest fish in real time
Bird is evolving to be less flashy in response to global warming
White patches on male collared flycatchers' heads have been shrinking, as climate change mysteriously makes those with big patches less likely to survive
Dried-up slime could help microbes survive briny waters on Mars
Colonies of bacteria called biofilms live longer in Mars-like waters ? especially if they were dried out first, as they would be after hitching a ride through space
A no-strike list may shield Yemen?s ancient treasures from war
Efforts to map ancient sites from satellite imagery are revealing never-before known archaeological sites, which may lead to a ?no-strike list? for combatants
Big cities warm up during the week as commuters flock in
People warm up large cities such as Melbourne and Sydney by an average of 0.3°C each week, and temperatures drop over the weekends
Samsung blames battery flaws for Galaxy Note 7 smartphone fires
Issues with two different lithium-ion batteries led to short circuits in Samsung Galaxy Note 7s which caused them to catch fire, says the company
Are potatoes now a cancer risk? Here?s what you need to know
A UK health campaign is taking aim at a substance found in starchy foods cooked at high temperatures. But what exactly is the case against acrylamide?
Climate scientists brace themselves for a Trump-led witch-hunt
Trump can now target scientists he doesn't like using archaic laws. Here's how they can fight back
Intergalactic collision birthed a sparkling ring of young stars
The Large Magellanic Cloud is encircled by bright young stars that are likely to have formed after another galaxy powered past, compressing gas
Spitting archerfish shoot at prey above and beneath the water
The aquatic sharpshooters are famous for blasting powerful jets at insects above the surface ? now experiments show they targetunderwater prey, too
We mustn?t let a superpower turn its back on rationality
Protesting the incoming Trump administration?s anti-science agenda may not be easy ? but it?s vital not just for the US, but the world  
How Trump?s erratic nuclear posture could spark a new arms race
The red ?button? might not be safe under Trump's finger ? but the new presidency brings some strange and surprising silver linings
Women?s access to birth control and abortion fading under Trump
There are ways for women to take back their reproductive rights - but they might have to go to Mexico
Recycled eggshells can be used for next-gen data storage
A nano-powder made from eggshells has been turned into a device using ReRAM, a type of memory that could offer fast, efficient computer data storage
How to protest against Trump in his expanded surveillance state
Trump plans to follow the UK's lead in extending domestic snooping powers. From Tor's hidden dangers to the right secure chat apps, here?s how to stay under the radar
Cold case: The unsolved mystery of what lit Kepler?s supernova
In 1604, the last Milky Way supernova recorded by naked-eye observers brightened the night sky. Despite 400 years of study, we still don't know what lit the fuse
Complex life may have had a false start 2.3 billion years ago
High levels of oceanic oxygen could have allowed advanced, animal-like life to develop for the first time ? only to be wiped out again as oxygen vanished
Global sea ice is at lowest level ever recorded
The area of ocean covered by floating ice is at its lowest since the satellite era began, and probably the lowest it has been for thousands of years
Curiosity finds Mars rock that may be a meteorite made from iron
Last week, NASA?s Curiosity rover took a picture that appears to show a new iron-nickel meteorite on Mars, one of only eight that have been discovered by rovers there so far
Abortion rate halves if women have to go extra 100 miles
A law that closed many abortion clinics in Texas has led to a drop in the rate of abortions. On average, the nearest clinic is now 80 kilometres further away
Brainwaves could act as your password ? but not if you?re drunk
EEG authentication is touted as a potential biometric alternative to passwords, but a test involving shots of whisky suggests it won?t work if you?re tipsy
Seals hunt down hidden fish by sensing their breath in the sand
The only way for flatfish hidden under the sand on the sea floor to avoid harbour seal predators might be to hold their breath
Majority of primate species may vanish in next 25 to 50 years
The latest review of primate survival prospects shows that habitat loss from farming and human expansion is putting our closest evolutionary relatives at risk
Stretchy robotic suit reduces energy used to walk by 23 per cent
A lightweight textile exoskeleton that assists the leg muscles could be a boon for people who find it difficult to get around
First evidence of dwarf galaxy merger boosts two cosmic theories
Astronomers have found dwarf galaxies that seem about to merge, backing ideas about how large galaxies form and the scattered nature of dark matter
Mysterious fairy circles in Namibian desert explained at last
Patterns in desert vegetation have been puzzling ecologists for years, but now it seems to have been finally cracked: both water and termites are at play
US army wants to fire swarm of weaponised drones from a missile
A swarm of drones equipped with munitions could locate and attack targets after being released from a missile mid-flight, according to an army proposal
2016 confirmed as the hottest year on record
The global average temperature in 2016 was 1.1°C higher than pre-industrial levels and about 0.07°C higher than the previous record set in 2015
Flawed hunt for flight MH370 shows need for new tracking system
The troubled search for the Malaysian airliner that vanished in 2014 highlights the need for better technology and coordination, says Paul Marks
First baby born using 3-parent technique to treat infertility
These are the first photos of a girl born in Kiev who was made using a mitochondrial replacement technique to get around her mother?s infertility problems
Female shark learns to reproduce without males after years alone
Some fish and reptiles can reproduce asexually, but a shark in an Australian aquarium is a rare case of this in an animal that once had a mate
Woman dies from infection resistant to all available antibiotics
Incurable bacterial infections are on the rise worldwide, but 90 per cent of multi-resistant infections in the US can still be beaten by at least one drug
Smartwatches know you?re getting a cold days before you feel ill
After sensors alerted a researcher to Lyme disease symptoms he was unaware he had, his team have shown that smartwatches can tell if a wearer is getting ill
In an era of nationalism the net needs its freethinking champion
With a rise in isolationist politics and totalitarianism, we must back the body that has quietly defended internet freedom for 10 years, says Carl Miller
Electronic gene control could let us plug bacteria into devices
Hooking up custom-made microbes to electronics could have a host of applications in medicine and industry, such as smarter drugs and better health apps
Calorie restriction diet extends life of monkeys by years
Macaques on permanent diets live significantly longer ? the equivalent of nine years in people. But is the detailed meal planning and loss of libido worth it?
Antelope revived in Sahara years after going extinct in the wild
Scimitar-horned oryx were hunted to extinction in the 1990s, but are now returning to the wild, thanks to breeding in captivity and reintroduction efforts in Chad
Don?t judge drug funding on political grounds
A cash-starved health service like the NHS has to make tough decisions on drug funding ? but the ?worthiness? of patients shouldn?t be a factor
Largest ever shark was doomed by its taste for dwarf whales
The 16-metre-long megalodon may have fed on small marine mammals, and when they went extinct, so did the sharks
Kaj Wik Siebert © 1996-2017