Monthly Archives: June 2015

Scientists discover fundamental property of light – 150 years after Maxwell

Quantum tunneling

Scientists have shed light on light. Taras Mykytyuk/Flickr, CC BY-SA

By Clive Emary, Lecturer in Physics

Light plays a vital role in our everyday lives and technologies based on light are all around us. So we might expect that our understanding of light is pretty settled. But scientists have just uncovered a new fundamental property of light that gives new insight into the 150-year-old classical theory of electromagnetism and which could lead to applications manipulating light at the nanoscale. Read more

£1.7m National Lottery grant to protect UK’s threatened marine life

Scarborough from Olivers Mount

Residents in Scarborough and along the East Coast will be able to take part in a UK wide environmental project thanks to scientists at the University of Hull. The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded £1.7million to “Capturing our Coast”, a project designed to explore how the marine environment is responding to global climate change and Dr Sue Hull at the University of Hull’s Scarborough Campus is one of the partners in the project. Read more

How life on Earth recovers after a devastating mass extinction

Bye bye humanity…. now what? NASA

By David Bond, NERC Advanced Research Fellow and Lecturer in Geology

Life on Earth is entering the greatest mass extinction since the death of the dinosaurs, according to a major new study – and humans may be among the casualties. Such a catastrophic loss of species would leave a huge hole in the world’s ecosystems, and all sorts of weird and wonderful life would evolve into the vacancies left behind.

To consider what life after a mass extinction might involve, we can look to the past. There have been five major mass extinctions in Earth’s history – though colleagues and I recently proposed a sixth – and comparing current rates of change to the geological record of the “Big Five” extinctions suggests that this time the warning signs are real.

So let’s be pessimistic, and assume the apocalypse is going to happen. What does Earth look like afterwards? Read more

Galactico Christiano Ronaldo has the earliest stars in the universe named after him

Artist’s impression of CR7: the brightest galaxy in the early

Artist’s impression of CR7. ESO/M. Kornmesser, CC B

By Kevin Pimbblet, Senior Lecturer in Physics at the University of Hull

Astronomers have caught a glimpse of what could be the earliest stars ever spotted. Found in a very distant galaxy, which has been nicknamed “CR7” in reference to the Portuguese footballer Christiano Ronaldo, the stars would have lived shortly after the Big Bang. They belong to a class of stars that has possibly never been seen before – stars that are uncontaminated with the metals that appeared later in the evolution of the universe. Read more

Artificial recreation of happy memories may become the next big weapon against depression

Happy days

How happy days can be remembered as they really were. Surkov Vladimir/Shutterstock

By Giuliana Mazzoni, Professor of Psychology at University of Hull

Urging a depressed person to stay positive by remembering the good things in life is unlikely to be helpful advice. That is because depression blocks access to happy memories. But what if we could somehow artificially recreate such memories to allow for some more positive thinking? A study suggests that this is indeed possible – at least in rats.

Surprisingly, the psychology and physiology of rodents is not so distant from our own. And if the same effect could be observed in humans, it might help open depressed individuals up to positive general interpretation of life experiences that make it possible to lift the dark veil of depression. Read more

Five amazing extinct creatures that aren’t dinosaurs

Jumping the shark

Jumping the shark. Dmitry Bogdanov, CC BY-SA

By Charlotte Stephenson, PhD candidate, palaeoenvironments & palaeobotany at University of Hull

The release of Jurassic World has reignited our love for palaeontology. Many of us share a longing to understand the dinosaurs that roamed the Earth long before we arrived. But palaeontology is a discipline much broader than this.

Dinosaurs dominated the land for 135 million years, but what happened during the rest of the Earth’s 4.6 billion-year history? The role of palaeontologists past and present has been to unravel the mysteries of life on Earth, and in doing so they’ve found a lot more than just dinosaur bones. Read more

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