Features, articles, essays
How Social Media Shapes My Depression
A short essay on the complex relationship between social media and depression.
Seeing Nature's Voice
I travel to Puerto Rico to meet the scientists training computers to 'hear' nature's most endangered species.
The Open Notebook
On being a science writer and managing a mental illness
My first piece on mental illness and how I (and others) deal with it as a writer. I hope this provides comfort or confidence to people who need it.
How our ancient origins are guiding modern medicine
I talk to the scientists who are not only identifying where Neanderthal genes are in our genome, but how they respond to infections. Although extinct in body, the species isn't extinct in gene.
The secret to a long and healthy life? Eat less.
From worms to monkeys, studies show that consuming fewer calories can slow ageing and the diseases associated with it. More recent experiments are now showing that humans might have just as much to gain.
Scotland is home to small 'tigers', but maybe not for long
From the chill of late February, my feature on a small group of volunteers who are trying to keep the Scottish wildcat wild.
The ancient and unique path to life on the "Roof of the World"
A story of how the new explorers, those of genomes and data, are revealing the secrets to life on the Tibetan Plateau.
Next wave of antibacterials may kill with physics, not chemistry
A story of two scientists from Australia who see science as a game, each project is a marriage between playing and child-like curiosity. They may have stumbled on new ways to kill an ever-increasing legion of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
What say you, dinosaur?
The calls of long extinct animals are being brought back to life with modern technology.
Saving a coral reef, one transplant at a time.
In the Seychelles, after one of the worst bleaching events known, scientists are replanting whole reefs.
How autism shaped the modern conversation
Invented in the 1980s, emoticons can to help people who struggle to understand inherent messages.
The dangerous myth of vitamin pills
Linus Pauling is the only person to have received two, unpaired Nobel Prizes. He was correct about many things, but, as he aged, dangerously wrong about another: vitamins and antioxidants are elixirs of life, the holy-grail for anti-ageing. This piece made BBC Future's Top Ten list of 2016, was featured on Longreads and Pocket's Best of.
The shark finning ban that should be banned.
In the US, a proposed ban on all shark fins might actually be damaging to sustainable fishermen and shark populations worldwide.
Meet Nanotyrannus, the dinosaur that never really existed.
How fossils can be reinterpreted with new data, and the extinction of names that follows.
Are sharks the guardians of the reef as is often portrayed?
Only a few sharks are apex predators that control the ecosystem below.
Beavers are back and they will reshape the land.
In which I visit a secretive site in rural Devon where an outdoor experiment may help decide the fate of beavers in the UK. Known as ecosystem engineers, scientists are trying to find out what exactly these large rodents are engineering in our waterways.
Honeybees sleep everyday, but do they dream?
The similarities between how we dream and they sleep are striking.
The fallen family tree of beavers.
From 35 million years ago, beavers have filled many ecological roles and sizes.
Slingshots, silkhenges, and spider bondage sex.
Out of their rears, spiders have an unlimited source of ingenuity.
In the mood.
At the Horniman Museum in London, Jamie Craggs and his colleagues have been trying to make they aquaria as closely matched to a tropical sea. The sun and moon are simulated, and on time, using LED lights. The water temperature varies with the seasons. I went to see whether the corals were feeling at home.
The hangover of coral bleaching.
By sapping current corals of their main food source, bleaching events can have long last effects.
Pheromones probably aren't why people find you attractive.
In contrast to hundreds of websites and perfume companies, after 50 years of research, not one human pheromone has been found.
The women with a controversial plan to save corals
We have used selective breeding to create new dog breeds and improve crop yields. Could it also help corals survive the ravages of climate change?
Finding our first fish
Recent fossils from over 400 million years ago have been shaking up the fish family tree, and changing our view of our ancestry in the process. I went to Oxford to meet one of the fossils and asked one of the researchers behind the find to sketch one of our oldest fishy ancestors.
Male flamboyance does more than ruffle a few feathers – it helps the female choose a mate in top metabolic health.
Five wild animals that won't seem to do it in cages.
From a turtle that has half a penis to a rhino that is too old to mount a female, these are some unfortunate and endangered species.
The most advanced water pistol on Earth is a fish.
The archerfish using physics to fire self-propelling bullets at their prey, extending their hunting grounds to above water.
Why albino birds are much rarer than you think.
Not all white birds are albino. It's a common misconception and it reduces the diversity of mutations in colouration to only a few possibilities. Poring through the collections at the Natural History Museum at Tring, UK, Hein van Grow reveals the true nature of pigmentation.
The insects that eat history.
Museums of natural history are a paradox: they contain millions of specimens of a huge range of species, but they have to keep life to zero within there walls. At the Natural History Museum in London the routine quarantine checks are vital to keep precious specimens from hungry mouths.
How your embryo knew what to do.
The forgotten story of the woman who discovered how animals get their shape.
How a 500-year experiment to revive dormant microbes could revealthe secrets to cheating time.
The codes of modern life
How error correction algorithms invented in the 1960s are now being used in the most ancient data storage devices: DNA.
These males are cheating animals.
From optical illusions to useless sugar gifts, the tricks some species play would make darwin blush.
Fish school us on wind power.
My first published piece! Thanks for getting this far down the page and back in time. Your scrolling means a lot to me and I hope you have read and enjoyed something on here. This particular piece is about record-efficiency wind turbines that are inspired by fish and seagrass.