Archivo: The Economist

What distantly related pandas reveal about genetics

TAKE a cardboard disc and punch two holes in it, close to, and on either side of, its centre. Thread a piece of string through each hole. Now, pull on each end of the strings and the disc will spin frenetically—first in one direction as the strings wind around each other, and then in the other, as they unwind. Versions of this simple children’s whirligig have been found in archaeological digs on sites across the world, from the Indus Valley to the Americas, with the oldest examples dating back to 3,300BC. Now Manu Prakash and his colleagues at Stanford University have, with a few nifty modifications, turned the toy into a cheap, lightweight medical centrifuge.

A new synchrotron is about to start up in a surprising part of the world

Most schools teach a heavily distorted view of what the world looks like

A group of researchers have identified about 500 micrometeorites from an unlikely source: gutter sediment from the roofs of buildings in two of Europe’s capital cities.

Knowing a protein’s whereabouts within a cell will help researchers to determine its job

Finding exoplanets has become routine. The next step is to try to photograph them

The ways plants attract pollinators can be strange indeed

Poor scientific methods may be hereditary

Decisions that are good for individuals can sometimes be terrible for groups