‘It eats everything’ – the new breed of wildfire that’s impossible to predict

Image credit - Pablo Trincado, licensed under CC BY 2.0

By Annette Ekin We’re fighting a different kind of wildfire whose behaviour experts are struggling to predict. Climate change and negligent forest management are causing higher-intensity, faster-moving fires that can generate enough energy to evolve into erratic firestorms, known as pyroCbs, in the face of which first responders can do little. ‘Traditionally we could predict the fire behaviour and the … Read more

Studying ant cooperation is revealing how brains work together

Image Credit - Antoine Wystrach

By Jonathan O’Callaghan As a child, you almost certainly at one stage spent hours watching ants move about from their nest. Maybe you dropped a piece of food and watched as a group of ants came and picked it up, carrying it home in an impressive display of cooperation. What you probably didn’t realise, however, … Read more

Bacteria keep us healthy – but could they keep us young?

Image Credit - Flickr/Pedro Simoes CC BY 2.0

By Gareth Willmer A study in mice has indicated that the make-up of bacteria in the gut is linked with learning abilities and memory, providing a potential avenue of research into how to maintain cognitive functioning as we age. It’s part of a field of research looking at the link between gut bacteria and ageing … Read more

Elephant genes suppress tumours. Could studying this help us prevent cancer?

Image credit - Virpi Lummaa

The genetics and ageing rate of elephants could hold clues to helping us find better ways to fight cancer and lead healthier, longer lives. In 2015, 1.3 million people died from cancer in the EU, more than one quarter of the total number of deaths across the 28 nations. Despite cancer treatment improving in recent years, the … Read more

Heartbeats and memory suppression – the new tools for controlling fear

Image Credit - Flickr/Franck Michel

Most of us feel afraid when faced with a threat or danger, but people with phobias and anxiety feel overwhelming levels of fear in situations that are relatively harmless. Scientists want to moderate this response by using drugs to wipe out scary memories or by harnessing the power of heartbeats to improve therapy. Usually, people … Read more