• Question: what is the most unexpected/suprising thing you have discovered

    Asked by Science nerd 🤓 on 1 Dec 2023.
    • Photo: Amy Stockwell

      Amy Stockwell answered on 1 Dec 2023:

      That science isn’t about a lone person in a lab shouting Eureka! like they do in films. Science is a slow process where small new pieces of information are discovered and added to the whole, like adding a new piece to a never ending jigsaw.

      I also discovered that I find it fascinating and that the more I learn, the more questions I have

    • Photo: Jonathan Allen

      Jonathan Allen answered on 1 Dec 2023:

      During my PhD I discovered a new method for optimising the design of aircrafts so that they can be much lighter – which means they need less fuel to fly and so produce less pollution that leads to climate change – whilst also ensuring they were strong enough to withstand all the forces that comes from flying. I was hoping to make a significant discovery, but it was still quite surprising how much of an improvement I was able to make.

    • Photo: Octavia Brayley

      Octavia Brayley answered on 1 Dec 2023:

      I’m currently researching how a species of insect is impacting the environment of an Antarctic island. This insect was accidentally moved from one island- South Georgia, to another island- Signy, in the 1960s. It has now spread across this new island and we think it’s increasing the nutrient levels in the soil which will allow different plant species to grow. The last person who studied this insect was a few years ago and they were EVERYWHERE. Interestingly, some recent soil samples from Antarctica were brought back for my research and there don’t appear to be many insects at first glance. This is really interesting. Are they declining in numbers? Or was this a bad batch of samples? If they are declining, what’s causing this considering they have been increasing across the last few decades? This is a very surprising finding, and maybe I’ll find more in the second set of samples I haven’t looked at yet, but this could result in some new ideas and experiments!

    • Photo: Ian McKinley

      Ian McKinley answered on 2 Dec 2023:

      We did some early work on microbes that live under extreme conditions (extremophiles) to see if they could possibly live deep underground in a repository for nuclear waste. In fact we found microbes everywhere we could sample – even under conditions of very high pH (which would burn your hands if you were in contact with it). In fact, we often found natural hot springs with very high pH by looking for the microbial mats growing there.