Secret of brain control: Practice makes perfect

Illustration: Henry Wong

It turns out we learn to move a robotic arm or computer cursor with the same neurons we use to learn to ride a bicycle or catch a ball. On a neurobiological level, that deceptively simple truth could have profound effect on how future devices could help those who have suffered a stroke or paralysis.

Sunday, 16 June, 2013, 4:07am

Men to blame for menopause in women, says study

Men to blame for menopause in women, says study

Men and their preference for younger female mates may have led to the phenomenon of menopause in women, according to a controversial study by Canadian researchers.

16 Jun 2013 - 8:53am

Short Science, June 16, 2013

Valentina Tereshkova

Palaeontologists have made the surprising evolutionary discovery that ancient fish may have had abdominal muscles, previously thought to have only developed in land animals.

16 Jun 2013 - 4:07am

Short Science, June 9, 2013

A reproduction of Archimedes' designs on show. Photo: AFP

Genomics and particle physics - offering different perspectives on the fundamental nature of life and the cosmos - are the two hottest areas of scientific research.

9 Jun 2013 - 2:37am

Mindfulness meditation adapted for city life

Illustration: Henry Wong

Meditation can still a restless mind, better prepare us for the challenges life throws at us, even make us more creative. But did you know it can actually change the structure of your brain?

9 Jun 2013 - 2:37am

Plant scientists question Monsanto's findings about escaped wheat variety

An anti-Monsanto protest in California in May. Photo: AFP

In its first detailed response to the announcement that a genetically modified wheat not approved for use was found growing in an American farmer's field, Monsanto said that it tested 31,200 seed samples in the US states of Oregon, where the wheat was found, and Washington and found no contamination.

9 Jun 2013 - 2:37am

Zhang Yitang is proof that for mathematicians, life begins at 40

Zhang Yitang

No mathematician should ever allow himself to forget that mathematics, more than any art or science, is a young man's game," the British mathematician G.H. Hardy wrote in A Mathematician's Apology. But the older guys are now catching up.

9 Jun 2013 - 2:37am

Bohr's atomic model 100 years old

Bohr's atomic model 100 years old

Picture an atom, and you may imagine spherical electrons orbiting a nucleus packed with particles like neutrons. Only certain orbits - quantum levels - are possible. It's a simplistic model, yet provides insights into atoms and chemical properties, and this year marks 100 years since the model was first proposed by Danish physicist Niels Bohr.

2 Jun 2013 - 2:44am

Modern humans' ancestors coaxed onto two legs by rough terrain, study finds

The rugged landscape created by volcanic eruptions and tectonic plate shifts in east and south Africa millions of years ago may be what prompted our human ancestors to start walking on two legs.

The research challenges the common theory that early hominins - members of the broad human family - were forced onto two feet because climate change reduced the number of trees they could live in. According to the new hypothesis, it is not why they left the forests, but where they went, that explains the evolution.

27 May 2013 - 5:59am

Big Bang image inspires scientists in quest to solve the mystery of creation

An image depicting the universe at 380,000 years old. Photo: NYT

When European space scientists released an image of the Big Bang afterglow, US cosmologist Lawrence Krauss wrote that no one could look at it without being awed and inspired. The 13.7 billion-year-old universe was then just 380,000 years old; that is, a baby!

26 May 2013 - 4:35am 1 comment

Mathematician makes prime number breakthrough

Zhang Yitang

Three and five are prime numbers - that is, they are divisible only by one and by themselves. So are five and seven. And 11 and 13. And for each of these pairs of prime numbers, the difference is two. Mathematicians have long believed that there are an infinite number of such pairs, called twin primes, meaning that there will always be a larger pair than the largest one found.

26 May 2013 - 4:35am

Short Science, May 26, 2013

Exercise shoes leave a giant carbon footprint

Runners tread more heavily on the earth than they may ever have imagined, according to a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists.

26 May 2013 - 4:35am

Dark, sticky QE2 asteroid to pass by Earth on June 1

Huge asteroid will miss earth … by a few million kilometres

It is 2.7 kilometres long. Its surface is covered in a sticky black substance similar to the gunk at the bottom of a barbecue. If it hit Earth it would probably result in global extinction. Good thing it is just making a flyby.

20 May 2013 - 6:44am

Hong Kong robot reveals mysterious yellow orbs at ancient Mexican temple

More than 30 researchers are involved in the excavation at the Temple of the Feathered Serpent at Teotihuacan, 40 kilometres northeast of Mexico City. Photo: SMP

Under the Temple of the Feathered Serpent in Mexico lay a tunnel not seen by people in more than 1,800 years. Damp, dark, filled with debris, and deliberately sealed by its creators, the passageway was thought to house the remains of the rulers of the ancient city of Teotihuacan

20 May 2013 - 10:19pm 1 comment

Viper's light-absorbing black scales are a wonder of nature's nanotechnology

The Gaboon viper's skin absorbs light. Photo: Shutter Stock

The West African Gaboon viper, one of the largest in Africa and a master of camouflage, has dark spots in the pattern of its skin that are deep, velvety black and reflect very little light.

19 May 2013 - 1:38am