Liam Shaw

Liam Shaw is a Wellcome-funded research fellow at the MacLean Lab in Oxford, researching bacterial genetics. He is writing a book about the history of antibiotics.

From The Blog
14 March 2024

At some point in the past, humans and other apes lost their tails. Research recently published in Nature proposes a mechanism to explain how.

Petrifying Juices: Fossilised

Liam Shaw, 25 January 2024

When​ Virgin Galactic’s spaceplane VSS Unity made its third commercial flight on 8 September 2023, its three crew members were accompanied by three paying customers, ‘private astronauts’ who had bought their tickets as long ago as 2004 (when they were a bit less than half the current asking price of $450,000). Ken Baxter, a Las Vegas real-estate investor; the British racing...

From The Blog
9 January 2024

In the 1880s, the Danish bacteriologist Hans Gram was working in the morgue of the Berlin city hospital, trying to identify bacteria in sections of lung tissue under the microscope. But there was so much blood that the bacteria were ‘impossible to see’. He used a dye – gentian violet – to stain the whole sample, then rinsed it with alcohol to wash out the purple colour. The bacteria appeared ‘an intense blue (often almost black)’ while the human cells were unstained.

Aha! Plant Detectives

Liam Shaw, 7 September 2023

The old​ Palais de Justice in Lyon is one of the finest examples of neoclassical architecture in France. Its entrance hall is flanked with marble columns, and winged lions prowl the architraves.Between 1845 and 1995, it housed the major courts for the surrounding region. From 1912, access to the world’s first official police forensic laboratory was gained by entering through a back...

From The Blog
14 August 2023

Thirty-nine asylum seekers were received onto the Bibby Stockholm, moored off Portland, on 7 August. The opening of the barge had been delayed by fire safety issues including a door being fitted the wrong way around, but Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, told Sky News: ‘I can absolutely assure you that this is a safe facility.’ On the day the asylum seekers arrived preliminary results suggested the presence of Legionella in the water supply – the bacterium that causes the form of pneumonia known as Legionnaires’ disease. They were not evacuated until four days later.

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