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Robin Mckie
For Robin Mckie's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
WORLD / Science & Health
Apr 20, 2014
Telescope to probe deepest space
Cerro Armazones is a crumbling dome of rock that dominates the parched peaks of the Chilean coastal range north of Santiago.
Japan Times
WORLD / Science & Health
Mar 16, 2014
Did climate — or man — kill off megafauna?
They were some of the strangest animals to walk the Earth: wombats as big as hippos, sloths larger than bears, four-tusked elephants and an armadillo that would have dwarfed a VW Beetle. They flourished for millions of years, then vanished from our planet just as humans emerged from their African homeland.
Japan Times
WORLD / Science & Health
Feb 16, 2014
Svante Paabo, prehistoric sleuth
Leipzig's Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology is a striking edifice.
Japan Times
WORLD / Science & Health
Feb 16, 2014
U.K. to debate allowing germ-line gene therapy
Deniz Safak was 5 years old when he first displayed symptoms of the disease that would later take his life. "He started being sick and had intense, stroke-like seizures," his mother, Ruth, recalled.
Japan Times
WORLD / Science & Health
Nov 17, 2013
Spacecraft set to uncover past, future of galaxy
European scientists are preparing to launch a probe that will transform our understanding of the galaxy. The spacecraft, called Gaia, will carry the world's biggest, most accurate camera, which it will use to pinpoint more than a billion stars with unprecedented precision and create a 3-D map of the Milky Way.
Japan Times
WORLD
Aug 23, 2013
China's voyage of discovery to cross the less frozen north
For a ship on a mission of worldwide importance, the Yong Sheng is a distinctly unimpressive sight. The gray and green hull of the 19,000-ton cargo vessel, operated by China's state-owned Cosco Group, is streaked with rust, while its cargo of steel and heavy equipment would best be described as prosaic.
Japan Times
WORLD / Science & Health
Aug 2, 2013
Curiosity rover's descent to Mars — the story so far
Nestled below the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory outside Pasadena has a surprisingly low-tech feel. For more than 40 years, space missions to the planets have been controlled from its operations rooms, yet the place is still striking for its bucolic charm. Mule deer crisscross its paths, pausing only to nibble plants, while its buildings, erected during the heyday of the U.S. space program, now have a settled, slightly worn aspect.
Japan Times
WORLD / Science & Health
Jul 19, 2013
The quest is to clone a mammoth: The question is, should scientists do it?
The idea would make headlines around the world and bring tears of joy to the planet's journalists. An adorable baby woolly mammoth, tottering on its newborn legs, is introduced to the media.
Japan Times
ENVIRONMENT
Jul 12, 2013
Fracking battle lines drawn in England's countryside
For a site symbolizing a future that will either poison our countryside or bring us unlimited amounts of cheap, pollution-free energy, Elswick, in northeast England, is a distinctly underwhelming destination for a visit. The gas-power station, owned by the U.K. drilling company Cuadrilla, lies in the Fylde area of the county of Lancashire and consists of a large square of cleared ground, a few cabins and some metal pipes. For most of the week, the site — surrounded by farmland — is unmanned.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Jun 23, 2013
Living in the material world
In 1961, Oxford archaeologists uncovered a pit at the site of Gen. Gnaeus Julius Agricola's headquarters at Inchtuthil, the site of a Roman legionary fortress, in Scotland. Unsavory Caledonians had made his troops' position untenable.
Japan Times
WORLD / Science & Health
Jun 8, 2013
Why do identical twins lead such different lives?
Barbara Oliver has had an intriguing relationship with her identical twin sister, Christine, over the decades. Throughout their childhoods, they were effectively treated as two versions of the one person: they were dressed in exactly the same manner and were given the same hairstyles. "Our parents did everything to stress how similar we were," Barbara recalls.
Japan Times
WORLD / Science & Health
May 4, 2013
Evolution: a new boost for 'aquatic ape' theory
It is one of the most unusual evolutionary ideas ever proposed: humans are amphibious apes who lost their fur, started to walk upright and developed big brains because they took to living the good life by the water's edge.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Books
Apr 21, 2013
Doomed 1897 balloon expedition a lively read
In August 1930, the Norwegian ship Bratvaag, carrying a party of scientists and seal-hunters, moored off the tiny Arctic island of Kvitoya. Few humans had ever set foot there — it is extremely remote and usually surrounded by thick pack ice. A couple of sailors began to explore and stumbled on a boat, protruding from a snow drift. Inside they found books, shotguns and instruments. Outside were human remains.
Japan Times
WORLD / Science & Health
Apr 20, 2013
The shadow biosphere: life on Earth, but not as we know it
Across the world's great deserts, a mysterious sheen has been found on boulders and rock faces. These layers of manganese, arsenic and silica are known as desert varnish and they are found in the Atacama desert in Chile, the Mojave desert in California, and in many other arid places. They can make the desert glitter with surprising color and, by scraping off pieces of varnish, native people have created intriguing symbols and images on rock walls and surfaces.
Japan Times
WORLD / Science & Health
Feb 16, 2013
Will new 'golden rice' revolutionize the world?
Scientists say they have seen the future of genetically modified foods and have concluded that it is orange or, more precisely, golden.
Japan Times
ENVIRONMENT
Jun 28, 2008
The truth behind the 'Origin of the Species'
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Longform

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