Sunday, 23 November 2014

In my sights!

It has a been a while since the last post I have done, it's been a crazy few months, however I am happy to say I am well on my way to becoming a pro at Western blotting.

This week several stories have caught my eye and all of them I find rather interesting.

Doctor, Doctor I have the worst headache, it feels all wriggly.
A 50 year old man, went to his doctor complaining of severe headaches and being able to smell odd odours. His headache went on for years, consequently doctors gave him numerous brain scans to try and pinpoint the cause of his ache. What perplexed the doctors were the ring-like patterns viewed in his brain scans, which moved between each time an MRI scan was taken. The doctors took to a more invasive procedure and found a worm wedged in the man's brain, more specifically in his temporal lobe. The worm was identified as a tapeworm called Spirometra erinaceieuropaei which is indigenous to amphibians and crustaceans. The origin of the man's 4 year problem, was a trip to China.

So kiss me...
A kiss is something which we share to show our affection and our love or lust with someone special, but feelings are not all that is shared. Dutch scientists have run an experiment to count the number of bacteria transferred between people in a 10 second lip lock. The scientists took samples from the volunteers' tongues and saliva directly before and directly after 21 couples kissed. They then got 1 person from each couple to drink a pro-biotic drink. After the 2nd kiss the scientists could detect the number of bacteria transferred from the drinker to the non-drinker. The number was found to be 80 million.

We're lighting up the sky tonight
David Romp from the University of California, has found that for every 1C rise in the world's temperature, the likelihood of lightening strikes will increase by 12%.

Is it a bird, is it a plane? No it's Gecko-man
Geckos are well known for their adhesive pads, which helps them cling to nearly every single surface.A team at Stanford, have created, what can only be described as 'Spiderman' gloves. The gloves are pads which are made from silicon and are covered in many tiles called microwedges. These tiles, harness the same force which holds geckos to ceilings: Van der Waal's forces. Although these forces a relatively weak, when together, they are very strong. Consequently when an 11 stone man wore these pads and proceeded to climb a glass wall he did not fail once out of the hundreds of times he attempted scaling the sheer face.

I'm keeping an eye out, for any other eye-grabbing stories.


Sunday, 5 October 2014

Let's Review

I'm 1 month into an industrial placement year at a major pharmaceutical company, and I am so happy that I seized this opportunity! I've already learnt a number of different techniques, and how to use many many machines and how to even present scientific findings. I am loving every single minute of being a real scientist discovering mechanisms and such.  I can imagine doing this as a real job once I graduate!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

You give me fever!

We all know that mosquitoes are rather annoying and have a habit of ruining our fun when on holiday. However, although they are the most annoying of all insects (in my opinion), they are not just holiday ruiners,; they can also act as vectors for some terrible diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. Both of these illnesses are a major problem in the developing world and also within the developed world as well.

In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; the epicenter of dengue fever, researchers have released thousands of dengue fever carrying mosquitoes (Aedes) infected with the  Wolbachia bacterium. This bacterium suppresses dengue fever within the mosquito and consequently the fever cannot be transmitted to humans.

In more detail, it is the bacterium Wolbachia which prevents the dengue fever virus from replicating within the mosquito and it also has another effect on the reproductive system of the mosquito. Via wolbachia's effects, it will mean that mosquitoes carrying dengue fever will become fewer and so the levels of the disease will also decrease proportionally.

This method has already been trialed in Australia and within 10 weeks of release the levels of Aedes mosquitoes with Wolbachia became predominant, and this is the plan which the researchers hope to replicate in Rio.

This study is a great example, of how modifying an organism can benefit the human population, whilst not having an impact upon the natural flora and fauna of the environment.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

I'm a real scientist.

As of 1 and a half weeks ago, I started an industrial placement at a major pharmaceutical company. This is really exciting and will help me consolidate my knowledge and learn more than I could possibly know from following a university course.

Already my pipetting skills have become better and I feel comfortable working around reagents not found in a university lab. I can't wait to look back at myself in a year, and see how much I have grown not only within myself but also within an industrial environment.

I feel like a real scientist!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

We are Golden.

In year 9 when a substitute teacher was asked by the class 'why is maths so important?', he simply replied 'Because maths is everywhere. In what we do, in the skies and on the ground. In nature and in nuture'. My sub was right (of course!) and this is demonstrated through my favourite decimal number, which has a rather Godly name:- The Divine Proportion.

The number which is in fact referred to by all manner of fanciful names (the golden ratio, the divine section, the golden proportion etc.) is represented by the Greek letter Phi and in numerical terms is 1.6180339887...

The ratio appears in architecture, art, music and nature. Adolf Zeising, a German psychologist found that the golden ratio was expressed in the stems of plants and in the number of veins on the leaves.

Explorer Fact: It has been found that the proportions of the human body all fall within the ratio of Phi. For example your height divided by the distance between your belly button and the ground equals (roughly) Phi.