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© Libby Scarlett and Amber Denneny for Mosaic

There’s strong pressure on universities to do something about spiralling student mental health problems, but what is best?

Lucy* hadn’t quite realised how severe her problems were.

She’d fallen in love with the university, in the south of England, as a teenager while visiting her big sister there. When she applied to go there herself, on a geography course, she had high hopes of what she’d do with her career.

“I wanted to help people in the Global South and fight climate change,” she says.

She dreamed of joining the UN or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change once she’d done her degree. …


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© Nyani Quarmyne at Panos for Mosaic. Mohammed Nur Chosim, 32, with his pet pythons at his home in Kediri in East Java, Indonesia. Chosim was bitten on the hand by a friend’s spitting cobra at a carnival in 2017.

One woman leads the way in stopping snakebite from killing and mutilating thousands in Indonesia. Meet Maha, the snakebite doctor.

he evening that a snake bit Mahfudin was one like any other. The sun had set behind Mount Lawu, to the west of Mahfudin’s village in the central part of Java, Indonesia. Crickets chirped in the hedges. Goats bleated in a shed. An uneven path lit by two dim lamps led to Mahfudin’s house: bare bricks and plywood on brown hardened earth, topped by a roof of dried palm leaves. …


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© Libby Scarlett and Georgia Marshall Evangelou for Mosaic

Here at Mosaic, art is an integral part of how we tell our stories — so we commission a diverse range of illustrators and photographers to bring our writers’ words to life. When artist Libby Scarlett read our new feature on student mental health, she decided to create the images for it in a way that took its message to heart.

“The story talks so much about listening to students,” explains Libby. “If we could have a conversation to create the artwork, I thought it would be a really nice way of bringing the recommendations of the article into being.”

Anna Lewis’s longread explores the rise of mental health problems at universities, suggesting students feel their voices are not being heard. …


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© Karl-Joel Larsson at Acne for Mosaic

If you have sleep apnoea, chances are you don’t realise it. But it’s linked to diabetes, heart disease and other conditions, and it can put your life at risk.

I thought I was dying.

During the day, I was so tired my knees would buckle. Driving the car, my head would dip and then I would catch myself. My face was lined with exhaustion.

At night, I would sleep fitfully, legs churning, then snap awake with a start, gasping for breath, heart racing.

My doctor was puzzled. He ordered blood tests, urine tests, an electrocardiogram — maybe, he thought, the trouble was heart disease; those night-time…


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© Erin Aniker at Twenty Twenty for Mosaic

Women athletes are twice as likely as men to get concussed — and the effects are more severe. But with research focusing mainly on men, what can we do to make sure women with concussion aren’t left behind?

ew sports are as fast and furious as roller derby. The hour-long game unfolds in frenetic two-minute bursts as two teams race anti-clockwise around an oval track.

Each team has a “jammer” aiming to pass four opposing “blockers”, and they score points for each opponent they lap.

Blockers can obstruct the path with their torso or push opponents off course with a swift nudge of their upper legs or upper arms. Jammers “juke” — a sideways dummy move — and “whip” — where a team member grabs their hand and swing them forwards ahead of the pack. …


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© Andrea D’Aquino for Mosaic

What makes the world’s most successful children’s TV programmes so addictive — and so strange? Linda Geddes explores the research on kids’ TV, what it’s teaching us about childhood development, and how that can help make programmes for the better.

Pepi Nana stirs, and sits up in bed.

“Tiddle toddle, tiddle toddle,” she says, flapping her arms, and blinking a pair of enormous round eyes. She walks over to the desk, sits down, and, using the oversized pencil in her front pocket, scribbles a letter to the Moon.

“Tiddle toddle, please come to tea, and we can have a story. …


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Image: © Lauren DeCicca for Mosaic

Planting mangrove trees on the shores of Vietnam is helping protect against global warming — and also sowing the seeds of female empowerment.

Tran Thi Phuong Tien remembers when the floods came. Sitting at her cafe in Hue city, where she roasts her own coffee beans and serves sizzling beef that draws customers from the other side of the Perfume River, she recalls how Tropical Storm Eve hit the coast in October of 1999, pounding the region with more than its monthly average of rain in just a few days. The massive rainfall, which landed mostly upstream, conspired with the tide to cause the largest natural disaster for the area in the 20th century. The sea spilled aggressively through the narrow, unprepared streets of the communes and the single-storey homes of Hue. …


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© Cait McEniff for Mosaic

Trypophobia is the fear of clusters of holes and cracks. Its origin may be evolutionary but as awareness spreads online, is it becoming a social contagion?

Julia was around 11 the first time it happened. She let herself into her dad’s apartment in Malmö, Sweden, dropped her schoolbag and flopped on to the sofa.

She switched on the TV and turned to her favourite channel in time for the cartoons.

The screen filled up with a cartoon man with a huge head. On his chin, in place of skin or a beard were huge cracks.

Suddenly, she felt like she was going to throw up in disgust. She screwed up her eyes and fumbled for the button to turn off the TV. …


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© Daniel Stier at Twenty Twenty and Miren Marañón at East Photographic for Mosaic

Meet the researchers making science more sustainable.

The lab is quietly bustling with scientists intent on their work. One gestures to an item on her bench — a yellow container, about the size of a novel. It’s almost full to the brim with used plastic pipette tips — the disposable attachments that stop pipettes being cross-contaminated. She stares down at it, despondently. “And this is just from today.”

We’re at the Francis Crick Institute, a towering biomedical research facility in the heart of London. The scientist in question is Marta Rodriguez Martinez, a Postdoctoral Training Fellow. Every day in her lab, pipette tips, petri dishes, bottles and more are used and discarded. The scale of the waste is immense — research by the University of Exeter estimates that labs worldwide generate 5.5 …


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Image: © Daniel Stier at Twenty Twenty and Miren Marañón at East Photographic for Mosaic

Gloves, sample tubes, bottles and vials — the world’s labs produce millions of tonnes of waste each year. Alice Bell meets the scientists who are finding less polluting ways to work.

Lucy Gilliam has an infectious passion for environmental action. Today, she works in Brussels on environmental transport policy. But in the early 2000s, she was a molecular microbiologist in Hertfordshire. Like many in her field, Gilliam got through a lot of disposable plastics. It had become a normal part of 21st-century science, as everyday as coffee and overtime.

Gilliam was, in her words, a “super high user” of the sort of plastic, ultra-sterilised filter pipettes that could only be used once. Just as so many of us do in our domestic lives, she found she was working with what anti-pollution campaigners call a “produce, use, discard” model. The pipettes would pile up, and all that plastic waste just seemed wrong to her. …

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Mosaic

Stories about the science you care about in a changing world. Available for free, created by @wellcometrust

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