Biology / Evolution

Review: Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony by Kevin N. Layland

A version of this review appeared in Issue 75 of Cosmos Magazine, July 2017  The runaway evolution that drove human brilliance Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony: How Culture Made the Human Mind by KEVIN N. LALAND Princeton University Press (2017) Evolutionary biologists are often loath to admit the vast gap that exists between our own brilliance and … Continue reading

The next generation of weapons against antibiotic-resistant superbugs
Biology / Evolution / Medicine

The next generation of weapons against antibiotic-resistant superbugs

From Cosmos Magazine, June 30, 2017 (Image: naturalismus via Flickr)  At his North Adelaide practice, Peter-John Wormald has the unenviable job of unblocking the noses of people with chronic sinusitis. Many of his patients have spent years on antibiotics that have failed to budge their infection, providing the perfect breeding ground for resistant superbugs. For … Continue reading

Biased for Benefit: Stimulating the world’s most popular drug targets with more nuance
Biology

Biased for Benefit: Stimulating the world’s most popular drug targets with more nuance

From Nature Medicine, June 2017 (Image: Nick Page via Flickr) In September 2012, a small biotech startup named Trevena unveiled preclinical trial results for its front-running compound, TRV027. The fledgling Philadelphia-based company had been going strong since its founding five years earlier, raising $24 million from investors in 2008 and securing a position in BusinessWeek’s … Continue reading

Biofuels: could agave, hemp and saltbush be the fuels of the future?
Biology / Environment

Biofuels: could agave, hemp and saltbush be the fuels of the future?

From The Guardian, May 10, 2017 (Image: Sergio Niebla via Flickr) Biofuels have long been touted as a carbon-neutral alternative to fossil fuels, doing for the world’s planes, ships and automobiles what windfarms and solar panels are doing for its electricity grids. With the transport sector accounting for almost one fifth of Australia’s total carbon … Continue reading

Biology / Medicine

A deep dive into the genomes of penicillin fungi reveals a trove of potential drugs

From Cosmos Magazine, April 4, 2017 (Image: AJC1 via Flickr) A treasure trove of medicinal compounds could still be lurking within the fungi that revolutionised modern medicine through the use of antibiotics, according to a new study published in Nature Microbiology. Penicillin, derived from the Penicillium fungi, became the first mass-produced antibiotic in the 1940s. … Continue reading

How acid warps your thoughts and feelings
Biology / Neuroscience / Psychology

How acid warps your thoughts and feelings

From Cosmos Magazine, January 27, 2017 (Image: Mesaj via Flickr) Eight decades since Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann first cooked up the psychedelic drug lysergic acid diethylamide – LSD or “acid” – and half a century on from its heyday during the 1960s counterculture, how LSD messes with our brain is still little understood. But two new … Continue reading