Rowan Hooper on Muck Rack

Rowan Hooper

News Editor — New Scientist

I'm managing editor @NewScientist. PhD in evolutionary biology. Former Tokyoite & entomologist. Columnist for @japantimes. すごい!

The gene that may benefit sumo giants — Samoa, with its string of beautiful islands and coral atolls in the South Pacific, is attracting more than just tourists these days. Scientists are heading there, too. The nation holds the uneviable position of being No. 1 in the world for obesity.

Rethinking the age-old question of youth — Japan used to follow a wonderful practice to mark old age: Everyone who reached their 100th birthday received a silver sake cup called a sakazuki. It's certainly better than the tradition in Britain, where centenarians simply get a letter from the queen. The sakazuki gift was a nice idea when it was introduced in 1963.

Autism may not be confined to the brain — Thirteen-year-old Naoki Higashida describes his own personal feelings about having autism as follows: "I feel a deep envy of people who can know what their own minds are saying, and who have the power to act accordingly. My brain is always sending me off on little missions, whether or not I want to do them.

Change in the brain: Central nervous system cells finally get the recognition they deserve — As you read this, some 100 billion neurons are transmitting information through electrical and chemical signals via synapses in your brain. Given the central role these cells play in neurological functioning, it's perhaps not surprising they typically hog the limelight - after all, the signals they transmit lie at the heart of human behavior, from the simplest of movements to the most complex of thoughts.

Saluting Shakespeare's scientific legacy — On April 23, the literary world marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. It's a good excuse for a lot of fuss: Britain's Royal Mint has produced a new £2 coin, the postal service has prepared a set of commemorative stamps depicting portraits of the Bard and thousands of theaters worldwide are expected to celebrate the anniversary.

Do chimp rituals reveal roots of religion? — How did gods evolve? I can't promise to answer a question of such gravity this week, but I can perhaps raise some interesting ideas. Note that I'm not specifically referring to the Christian, Islamic or Judean deity - I'm speaking more broadly about the roots of our belief in a higher power.

Stem cells used to replace part of the human brain — Sometimes I imagine famous scientists and doctors from the past magically catching a glimpse of our modern world. Sure it's fun to picture their gawping faces, but the daydream also helps remind me that we take so much for granted these days.

Murakami is right about jazz and the brain — The above line is from the English translation of Haruki Murakami's 1985 novel, "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World." It offers a theory on the way in which the brain perceives the world. Famous for his wildly successful experimental fiction, Murakami is also crazy about jazz.

Cherishing Okinawa's diverse marine life — Diving in Okinawa this summer, I came face to face with my favorite undersea creature: the octopus. I was diving at Maeda Point on the main island when my guide directed my attention to something that was right in front of me. I stared but could only see coral.

Zzzz - a novel way to manipulate sleep — The Milinda Panha is a Buddhist text written more than 2,000 years ago. It takes the form of a dialogue between Indo-Greek King Menander I and a Buddhist sage. At one point, the king is interested in the meaning of dreams. The sage talks about the possible influences of the waking life on dreams and then mentions that they occur in the period between falling asleep and deep sleep.
More Articles →
Aug 24, 2016

Australia’s most mysterious marsupial, the pig-footed bandicoot (extinct)  by @alicevklein

Aug 24, 2016

Sci-fi author Stephen Baxter wrote a novel about a habitable planet orbiting Proxima Centauri. And wrote for us too 

Aug 24, 2016

At 1/5th the speed of light, these probes could reach Alpha Centauri in 20 yrs  by @jjaron

Aug 23, 2016

As well as a religion, "Jedi" is a variety of carnivorous plant

Aug 23, 2016

Q&A with one of the world's most interesting sci-fi authors, Liu Cixin  v @naturefutures @prestongrassman

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