Science & Society

'To be, or not to be' male or female? Maxine Peake plays Hamlet. Credit: Jonathan Keenan/Royal Exchange Theatre

By Mareile Pfannebecker, University of Manchester

The ghost, in this autumn’s Royal Exchange Theatre production of Hamlet, is in the light bulbs. Hung over the stage, they flicker and hum as they mark Old Hamlet’s movements. They also set the scene for the production: this is an indoors, domestic Hamlet, with Fortinbras and the wars cut out to focus on family politics.

Knowing your DNA will is not a panacea. Credit: PA/Harvard University

By Walter Gilbert, Harvard University

Walter Gilbert won the Nobel Prize in 1980 in Chemistry for his contribution to sequence DNA, or “determination of base sequences in a nucleic acid”. Mohit Kumar Jolly, researcher at Rice University and contributor to The Conversation, interviewed him at the 2014 Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting.

There is a downside to 'follow the money' arguments made by academics against scientists in pharmaceutical and oil companies - it comes back to haunt them also.

A paper in PNAS finds that Americans seem wary of researchers because they get grant funding and do not trust scientists pushing political and cultural agendas. The public prefers at least the pretense of impartiality from scientists who are paid by taxpayers. And it wouldn't hurt if scientists came off less angry and a little "warmer" when they engage in outreach, according to a new review published by Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

What causes segregation? No one knows. No one even knows where the line is. For example, in science classes, there is worry that if there are not enough people 'like' an individual, they will feel intimidated and excluded. But when there are lots of people like an individual, they tend to self-segregate into groups based on gender and ethnicity.

On the city-wide level, environmentalists advocate very dense housing because it has lower strain on the land, but a new study in PNAS finds that dense cities lead to more segregation, even in previously integrated neighborhoods. Racially and economically mixed cities are more likely to stay integrated if the density of households stays low.

Sarkeesian has been the focus of much online hatred since she started her website Feminist Frequency in 2009. Credit: Anita Sarkeesian

By Jessamy Gleeson, Swinburne University of Technology

Three weeks ago, well-known feminist gaming critic Anita Sarkeesian was forced to leave her San Francisco home due to an ongoing tirade of abuse and threats. Members of a vocal minority of online trolls had threatened to kill her parents, drink her blood, and rape her – all while publishing her personal details online.

Does this count as homework? Credit: Rob Boudon, CC BY

By Mark Banks, University of Leicester

Lord Toast. Credit: Catarina Mota, CC BY-NC-SA

By Akshat Rathi, The Conversation and Flora Lisica, The Conversation

The 24th Ig Nobel prizes were announced on September 18th. The prizes annually award scientific research that “first makes people laugh and then makes them think."

Could novels help us fight climate change? Credit: Asian Development Bank/flickr

By Stephanie LeMenager, University of Oregon

A frail risk analyst rediscovers his inner frontiersman in a devastating flood that hits Manhattan; an insightful rural woman glimpses the grace of god in the revelations of biological science; genetically engineered hominids who purr themselves to wellness inherit a devastated Earth.

A new review of literature suggests that while domestic violence rates are higher for homosexual couples, they aren't as high as previous studies have found, and the authors of the paper say the minority stress model may explain the high prevalence rates.

Previous studies indicate that domestic violence affects up to 75 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals. A lack of representative data and underreporting of abuse paints an incomplete picture of the true landscape, suggesting even higher rates. By comparison, 25 percent of heterosexual women report domestic abuse while heterosexual men have rates much lower.  

We've all been driving and come upon signs warning us that construction is happening and we have to slow down for the safety of workers and that penalties are going to be doubled. We see billboards with children imploring us to reduce speed because their parents are highway construction employees.

Then it turns out that there is no construction. Speed limit credibility is put to the test by those instances and as a result, people have been routinely ignoring speed limits, according to Dr. Ross Blackman, a scholar at Queensland University of Technology Centre for Accident Research&Road Safety - Queensland, who presented the findings at the Occupational Safety in Transport Conference on the Gold Coast in Australia.