Magazine feature, published online September 6th 2013
As the financial crisis in Europe continues, could Bitcoin be the solution to our economic woes?
Before pounds and dollars, you could use solid gold in exchange for goods. There was a limited supply of gold, so its value was inflexible. When we started using the currencies we know today, their value was compared to that of gold; this was the Gold Standard.
But measuring currencies against the value of gold meant countries could not alter their own exchange rates – to make exports cheaper, for example. So, using political means, money became flexible. Fiat currencies now relied on a country’s creditworthiness, meaning centralised banks could control national economies and fund the state, by yielding power over money, exports and people. And it’s been that way ever since the start of the 20th century.
News, August 30th 2013
Being poor can sap a person’s mental resources, research published in the journal Science suggests.
The work, by an international team, demonstrates how poverty takes its toll on cognitive function, leaving less mental capacity for other tasks.
The evidence comes from two studies carried out in India and the US.
Previous data had shown a link between poverty and bad decision-making, but the root causes of this correlation were unclear.
You can find the paper, published in Science, here.
Feature, July 1st 2013
Image Credit: JohnGoode (via Flickr)
Patenting human genetic sequences has been going on for decades, and has allowed biotech companies all over the world to monopolise the market for genetic testing. But, for better or worse, a the recent ruling of the US Supreme Court has changed the way such genetic material can be patented.
Feature, June 7th 2013
Image Credit: KaCey97007 (via Flikr)
The generally accepted scientific method goes something like this: a group of scientists get together and come up with a theory, they make predictions based on this theory, and then set up an experiment to test the theory. In order to get the experiment done, funding needs to be provided. Without having any money supporting it, it doesn’t happen. At least, that is how it’s been since the 1930′s, but this status quo may be changing.
Book review, August 9th 2013
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
Oneworld Publications (2013)
Only a lucky few have had their arms squeezed by the stomach of a cow. Mary Roach is one of them. She didn’t just put her hands “up” the cow; she went straight into its stomach through a fistula – a small hole – straight into its side.