I am a UK-based science writer with over 20 years experience. I am the author of two books and countless magazine features for New Scientist, the Guardian, BBC Future, BBC Earth and the Boston Globe.
According to a growing body of research, our ability to balance – one of humanity’s hardest-won evolutionary skills – is beginning to fade away. Around the world, falls that lead to serious injury or death are on the rise. Here's why that matters for our mental and physical health and what we can do about it.
“JUST do it,” they say. If only it were that easy. It doesn’t seem to matter how much you want to get fit, eat better, spend money more wisely or work towards a promotion, something always comes along to knock you off course. The only thing for it is to game your brain. So here are the most scientific ways to do just that and reach your goals, in spite of yourself.
Fasting diets are getting ever more popular, amid promises of weight loss and better health, but does the science stand up? We put the latest one to the test...
I‘m not the kind of girl who jumps into a strange man’s car and hopes for the best. Especially when a quick Google stalk reveals him to be recovering from an addiction to methamphetamine. But having been assured by someone I trust that he was “one of the good guys,” I accepted his offer of a ride to the airport and … hoped for the best.
Fake news travels fast. But why does anyone actually believe it? It has been widely assumed that fake news spreads because we like to believe stories that confirm our world view.
But a study of more than 3000 people suggests otherwise...
The brain’s secret powerhouse that makes us who we are
Once regarded as having only a bit-part role in mental operations, the cerebellum could actually be the crowning achievement of our brain's evolution
By Caroline Williams
TUCKED away beneath the rest of the brain and only a tenth of its size, the cerebellum is typically seen as a trusty neural sidekick. Like Watson trailing behind Sherlock Holmes, it was useful enough, but not nearly as interesting...
There are four different kinds of creative flow.
May 2 2018, 5:09pm
If only every day could be like this. You can’t put your finger on why: Maybe you had just the right amount of sleep. Maybe the stars are somehow aligned in your favor. Whatever the reason, you’re cooking on gas. Hours fly by like minutes, you’re feeling great, and before you know it it’s 5:30 pm and your to-do list is done.
This feeling of ‘flow’ or being ‘in the zone’ is something that m...
Author Caroline Williams spent a year taking tests, surrendering to neuroscience labs and meeting with researchers to determine if neuroplasticity can result in meaningful change or is simply a brain teaser.
“I’d like you to think of something that you worry about often,” says Alex Temple-McCune, a baby-faced PhD student with the air of a much older, kindly doctor.
“Oh, that’s easy. My son running into the road outside my house,” I reply. Alex stares at me, impassive. “He’s 5,” I add, by way ...
Can you really rewire an adult brain? In Override, Caroline Williams goes on a mission to find out.
Volunteering herself as a guinea pig for top neuroscientists, Williams travels the world testing out brain training techniques that promise to affect real change: from improving on weaknesses such as her limited attention span, tendency to worry, and poor navigation skills, to more mysterious areas such as creativity and the perception of time.
From high-tech brain stimulation to meditation, ad...
MY SPACE-CADET TENDENCIES earned me the nickname “butterfly brain” when I was about 8 years old. Even as an adult, working from home, I can spend the day flitting from one thing to the next, doing nothing of any use at all. When that happens, I’ll feel stressed and frustrated — and I’ll have even more to do the next day.
Lack of focus and a susceptibility to procrastination are both hallmarks of a brain that is not under the proper control of its owner. I’m not the only one who struggles with...
Octopuses’ astonishing mental skills might help us unearth the roots of intelligence – but first we need to understand what makes them so smart
BETTY the octopus is curled up in her den, eyes half-closed and clutching a piece of red Lego like a child with a teddy bear. She is, says Kerry Perkins, cephalopod researcher at the Sea Life aquarium in Brighton, UK, much better behaved than some of the octopuses she has worked with. One used to short-circuit a light in its tank by squirting water at it, and would do so whenever the bulb was left on at night. Another made a bid for freedom via the aq
By Caroline Williams
IT DOESN’T look much like the future of electricity generation. From where I’m standing, the small square of windswept greenery on the roof of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology in Wageningen bears a striking resemblance to the patch of straggly grass that passes for my back lawn. Yet according to its creators, this green plot could revolutionise the way we power our lives. With a tangle of bright red cables spilling out from among the plants’ roots, this grass is wired...
By Caroline Williams
THE origin of consciousness has to be one of the biggest mysteries of all time, occupying philosophers and scientists for generations. So it is strange to think that a little-known neuroscientist called Constantin von Economo might have unearthed an important clue nearly 90 years ago.
When he peered down the lens of his microscope in 1926, von Economo saw a handful of brain cells that were long, spindly and much larger than those around them. In fact, they looked so out o...