The social animals that are inspiring new behaviours for robot swarms

File 20190326 36252 wdqi1n.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Termite team.
7th Son Studio/Shutterstock

Edmund Hunt, University of Bristol

From flocks of birds to fish schools in the sea, or towering termite mounds, many social groups in nature exist together to survive and thrive. This cooperative behaviour can be used by engineers as “bio-inspiration” to solve practical human problems, and by computer scientists studying swarm intelligence. Continue reading

Brexit extended to October 31: why the EU chose a six-month reprieve for its awkward partner

Theresa May has been granted a Brexit ‘flextension’ until the end of October. EPA/Olivier Hoslet

Nieves Perez-Solorzano, University of Bristol

In another Groundhog Day experience, and at the end of a difficult seven-hour meeting, the EU27 has agreed to give the UK until October 31 2019 to ratify the withdrawal agreement. The bloc has, however, attached three very specific conditions to this offer.

Should the UK and EU ratify the withdrawal agreement before October 31, the UK would exit the EU on the first day of the following month – hence why it is being dubbed a “flextension”. Continue reading

As archaeologists, it was our duty to take on Cadbury over ads encouraging kids to dig up ‘treasure’ – and we won

File 20190321 93060 17y0dti.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Doonagore Castle, which Cadbury incorrectly identified as Mooghaun Fort in its ad campaign.
Shutterstock.

Aisling Tierney, University of Bristol and Mark Horton, University of Bristol

The latest online campaign by chocolate giant Cadbury encouraged children to go “treasure hunting” over Easter. Kids were encouraged to “uncover underwater shipwrecks in Devon” or “dig up Viking silver on the River Ribble”. After discovering the website, archaeologists (ourselves included) launched a call to action, pointing out that such activities might well be breaking the law. Continue reading

Italy joins China’s Belt and Road Initiative – here’s how it exposes cracks in Europe and the G7

China and Italy’s presidents shake hands. EPA-EFE/Alessandro Tarantino / Pool

Winnie King, University of Bristol

Italy is projected to be the first G7 nation to officially endorse China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). And that’s raising the ire of both the European Union and the United States. Continue reading

Brexit deadline extended: why Brussels chose these dates and what happens now

Nieves Perez-Solorzano, University of Bristol

The 27 members of the European Union have responded to Britain’s request to extend the Brexit process with two deadlines, having agreed that the original Brexit date of March 29 is no longer feasible. Continue reading

Counter-terrorism Prevent strategy receives a boost from the courts – and statistical evidence

File 20190320 93054 3diipw.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Shutterstock

Steven Greer, University of Bristol

Of the four “Ps” which frame the UK’s counter terrorism strategy – Pursue, Prepare, Protect and Prevent – the latter is by far the most controversial. It is the Prevent scheme which aims to stop people from becoming terrorists, or from supporting those who already are. Continue reading

What we found out about bribery patterns in Uganda’s health care system

File 20190222 195870 qkieqo.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Experts fear that Uganda’s efforts to eliminate graft in its health care system are not sustainable.
Suuba Trust/Flickr

Heather Marquette, University of Birmingham; Caryn Peiffer, University of Bristol, and Rosita Armytage, Durham University

In September 2017 Uganda’s former Minister of Health, Dr Sarah Opendi, disguised herself in a hijab and travelled by boda boda (motorbike taxi) to Naguru Hospital in Kampala. The minister then asked for routine laboratory tests. They should have been given to her free of charge but instead the health workers asked for a bribe. Continue reading

Mothering Earth: Raising kids in uncertain times

Image credit: Amanda Woodman-Hardy. Copyright.

Did you know women are more likely than men to be affected by climate change? UN figures indicate that 80% of people displaced by climate change are women. And in light of the recent strikes by children across the world, it is clear that it is the most pressing issue for a lot of children around the world. So then, what role do mothers play in guiding and supporting our children in a changing climate? And what is it like to know the dangers of climate change and bring up a child in an uncertain world? Continue reading

Brexit and migration: our new research highlights fact-free news coverage

File 20190121 100273 h6j1sf.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
shutterstock.

Denny Pencheva, University of Bristol

Immigration anxieties played a significant role in British people’s decision in June 2016 to vote to leave the EU. This has fuelled a debate over the quality of media reporting on migration issues. Continue reading

Zebra’s stripes are a no fly zone for flies

File 20190219 43264 zcnuyx.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Scientific testing has zeroed in on the advantages of a zebra’s striped coat.
Tim Caro, CC BY-ND

Tim Caro, University of California, Davis and Martin How, University of Bristol

Zebras are famous for their contrasting black and white stripes – but until very recently no one really knew why they sport their unusual striped pattern. It’s a question that’s been discussed as far back as 150 years ago by great Victorian biologists like Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace. Continue reading