Archivo: The Conversation

In 2010, Kasimir Popkonstantinov discovered what he believes are the bones of one of the most famous of all saints: John the Baptist. I was interested in what DNA analysis could tell us about these bones, and other ones. Together with biblical scholar Joe Basile, I was travelling around the world filming a documentary about the religious and scientific evidence linking archaeological artefacts to Jesus Christ himself.

No one could have expected what was to hit New Zealand in 2016. The country is certainly no stranger to being shaken up by moving tectonic plates. Yet on November 14 2016, it was struck by what may be the most complex rupture ever recorded, overshadowing even the highly destructive sequence of earthquakes that hit Christchurch in 2010 and 2011. New research into the event shows we may have to rethink our understanding of how far earthquake ruptures can travel.

Over 200 years after steamships first began crossing the ocean, wind power is finding its way back into seafaring. Global shipping firm Maersk is planning to fit spinning “rotor sails” to one of its oil tankers as a way of reducing its fuel costs and carbon emissions. The company behind the technology, Finnish firm Norsepower, says this is the first retrofit installation of a wind-powered energy system on a tanker.

What do we need to learn today about the jobs of tomorrow? Two things are clear. The robots and computers of the future will be based on a degree of complexity that will be impossible to teach to the general population in a few short years of compulsory education. And some of the most important skills people will need to work with robots will not be the things they learn in computing class.

People with coeliac disease need to avoid gluten, but a gluten-free diet is otherwise best avoided. It raises the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Treating the history of science as a linear story of progression doesn’t reflect wholly how ideas emerge and are adapted, forgotten, rediscovered or ignored. While we are happy with the notion that the arts can return to old ideas, for example in neoclassicism, this idea is not commonly recognised in science. Is this constraint really present in principle? Or is it more a comment on received practice or, worse, on the general ignorance of the scientific community of its own intellectual history?

The reason you feel things as solid is all to do with electrons.

The World Health Organisation has estimated that two fifths of the 14m cases of cancer that are diagnosed every year are preventable. The main preventable causes of cancer are diet, smoking and infection. Of these, diet is likely to most disproportionately affect women over the coming years.

Researchers are trying to train synaesthesia-like associations in people who don’t have the condition.

Musk originally intended the Hyperloop to cover the 600km route from Los Angeles to San Francisco at an average speed of about 960kph, reducing what’s currently a 12-hour train journey to just 35 minutes. Although funding has since been channelled into a bullet train service for this route, the idea of the hyperloop has attracted interest elsewhere