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Guardian Science Blogs

Notes & Theories | The Guardian

The Guardian's blog on scientific research and controversies, written by our reporters and guest contributors

The Guardian

  • What Seinfeld can teach us about science

    From micro pigs to the doping dangers of a poppy seed bagel, life may be imitating the US sitcom

    When Jerry Seinfeld starts his UK tour, listen out for a science joke. From early on in his TV career, the comedian poked fun at science. In his 1981 HBO debut, he said of weather forecasts: “And then my favourite part, the satellite photo. This is really helpful. A photograph of the Earth from 10,000 miles away. Can you tell if you should take a sweater or not from that shot?”

    His eponymous 90s sitcom is also packed with nuanced references to science, with the storylines of some of the most famous episodes centred on it: George Costanza pretends to be a scientist in The Marine Biologist, while in The Abstinence he becomes a boffin after swearing off sex. In The Non-Fat Yogurt, Kramer has a romantic fling in a lab and inadvertently spoils an experiment testing whether the frozen snack is as healthy as it sounds.

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  • Can't stand the rain? How wet weather affects human behaviour

    Rainfall affects our mood, our propensity to commit crime and how hungry we feel – but why?

    It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring. He bumped his head when he went to bed, and he couldn’t get up in the morning. This was possibly because in the absence of sunlight his body was still producing the hormone melatonin, which makes you sleepy. There are many ways that rainfall affects human behaviour. Why do crime levels drop when the heavens open? How much does rain really affect people’s moods and behaviour?

    In 2008 university researchers published a paper proposing that weak summer monsoons were influential in the downfall of three dynasties in ancient China. By analysing stalagmites from a cave, they were able to match periods of significantly decreased rainfall with periods of social upheaval and the demise of the Tang, Yuan and Ming dynasties. This is thought to be related to reduced rice cultivation.

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  • Is banning cage diving actually bad for sharks?

    New Zealand has ruled the practice illegal after mounting public pressure – but it can be a valuable and effective conservation tool

    Earlier this month the New Zealand court of appeal ruled that shark cage diving is illegal, and as a result cage diving tourism will soon cease in the country.

    But is a ban an appropriate course of action when shark population numbers are declining globally?

    Related: Diving for Dakuwaqa: giving Fiji's shark god a helping hand

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