Island cores unravel mysteries of ancient Maltese civilisation

The Ġgantija temples of Malta are among the earliest free-standing buildings known. Image credit - Bs0u10e01, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The mysteries of an ancient civilisation that survived for more than a millennium on the island of Malta – and then collapsed within two generations – have been unravelled by archaeologists who analysed pollen buried deep within the earth and ancient DNA from skulls and bones. It’s part of a field of work that is … Read more

Why hunting for fast radio bursts is an ‘exploding field’ in astronomy

FRB 121102, a repeating burst, was discovered in 2015. This discovery enabled astronomers to figure out what galaxy the FRB came from and in turn locate hundreds more FRBs. Image credit - Gemini Observatory / AURA / NSF / NRC

by Jonathan O’Callaghan Little more than a decade ago, two astronomers discovered mysterious bursts of radio waves that seem to take place all over the sky, often outshining all the stars in a galaxy. Since then, the study of these fast radio bursts, or FRBs, has taken off, and while we still don’t know what … Read more

Transplant recipients may soon have a test to protect against organ rejection

In 2017, 34,000 transplants were carried out in the EU, while 60,000 people were on a waiting list for a transplant by the end of the year. Image credit - Flickr/Lars Plougmann, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

To help prevent organ rejection, transplant recipients could receive drug cocktails personalised to their own immune systems if a new test, which has passed early trials, is successful. And new methods for scrubbing animal tissue could enable humans to benefit from other species’ organs in the future. In the EU alone, there were 60,000 people on … Read more

In a picture: Filming the immune system in action – Prof. Georg Fantner

This video shows the body's immune system attacking a bacterial membrane. It punches one hole in the surface before pausing and then punching more. Video source - nature communications ( DOI https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-10058-7

By assembling a camera that can record video at nanometre resolution, scientists have filmed how the immune system kills bacteria by poking holes into it. Professor Georg Fantner tells us about how this was achieved and why his next challenge is to build a video camera that can film the inside of a living cell. We … Read more

Five things you need to know about: the science of refugee integration

Dr Hangartner says that without at least a working definition of integration, we cannot measure it. Image credit - Mstyslav Chernov, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

In the last few years, the integration of refugees into European societies has become an urgent issue.  Since 2015, nearly 4 million people have applied for asylum in the EU and many are now beginning to make new lives here. What does it mean to become integrated into a new society? How can it be achieved? … Read more

Why meerkats and mongooses have a cooperative approach to raising their pups

Mongooses, like humans, are among the few mammals that go to war with each another. Image credit - Harry Marshall

Raising children can be a tough job, especially when doing it alone, but some animals like meerkats and mongooses work together to raise their young. Studies of these cooperative creatures are revealing how this highly social behaviour evolved and is shedding light on the roots of our own species’ collaborative abilities. Living in the flat, … Read more