Africa isn't a continent that's famous for cutting edge research. But at the
University of Stellenbosch, 50km East of Cape Town, South Africa, Kiran
Dellimore and his team are engineering medical equipment that will
save the lives of people all over the world. Latest projects include
replacement heart valves made from kangaroo tissue and equipment to help resuscitate people in
Recent discoveries have made it possible to control computer games by thought alone, or work out what kind of item someone is thinking about from their brain signals. And that's not all. Researchers were able to use brain scans to reconstruct what someone was looking at.
In these experiments the scientists were literally able to see what people were thinking. A worrying thought, perhaps. But how did they do it?
Some things are so familiar to us that they are simply expected, and we may forget to wonder why they should be that way in the first place. Sex ratios are a good example of this: the number of men and women in the world is roughly equal, but why should this be the case? A simple mathematical argument provides an answer.
Struggling with that new year's resolution to lose a few pounds? Weight not dropping off as fast as you'd expected? A new mathematical model has some good news and some bad news for you. Which would you like to hear first?
Different life forms can lead to different mathematics: eg, in many species of bees and ants the males have only half as much genetic information as females. You can read more about the mathematics of bee relationships in the appendix!
A team of nanoengineers have constructed new materials that don't wrinkle when you stretch them. This makes them similar to tissue found in the human body, so they may in the future be used to repair damaged heart walls, blood vessels and skin.
We often think of mathematics as a language, but does our brain process mathematical structures in the same way as it processes language? A new study published in the journal Psychological Science suggests that it does: the process of storing and reusing syntax "works across cognitive domains."
If you are, then you may be one of the 5 to 7% of the population suffering from dyscalculia, the mathematical equivalent of dyslexia. But unlike many dyslexia sufferers, you probably haven't received the help you need to cope with your condition. As a recent article published in the journal Science points out, dyscalculia is the "poor relation" of dyslexia.
Dengue fever does the opposite of what you might expect. Unlike for many diseases, if you've had this tropical virus and recovered, you might be worse off, as a second exposure to the dengue virus can be life threatening. So keeping track of the strains of the diseases is an important problem which can be solved with the help of a little randomness.