biology, Explainer, genetic modification, Science, science news, Sunday Science Stories

Sunday science stories 13/08/17

An absolutely fascinating account about human breast milk, which turns out to be an incredibly sophisticated substance full of beneficial microbes, antibodies and even cells. Made me feel a lot less abnormal about my still-breastfeeding 2 1/2 year old!

Genetically modified salmon have been approved for human consumption in Canada These fish continuously produce growth hormone so they reach maturity (and hence marketability) much sooner. I wouldn’t be worried about eating it, but I do have some concerns about escapees – would they potentially out-compete wild salmon?

What should you buy if you have the cash to spare? Time, apparently, as opposed to things. Buying time makes you happy. This is the link to the actual scientific paper, hence a bit dry, but it’s not hugely technical.

Finally, this week’s featured image shows the FlyPi, a 3D printed fluorescent microscope system based on a Raspberry Pi computer system that has been developed by the Baden lab here at Sussex University. They can be built for less than 100 Euros, compared to the 1000s that even a basic microscope usually costs. Website includes link to the original paper, with full technical detail, and other resources.




Science, Sunday Science Stories

Sunday Science Stories

I’ve decided to start a little weekly feature in which I link to a few of the science stories I’ve read over the past week that I’ve found interesting. Quite often as I browse the tables of contents of scientific journals, I read things that I’d quite like to mention, but not enough to write a full blog post on. A lot of these won’t be mentioned in the mainstream press, of course, and so don’t reach a wider audience. So I thought it would be nice to share storiess I’ve found interesting. I’ll try and give a mix of the types of articles I link to, and wherever possible make sure they’re open access so you can read the full article for free.

To get started, here’s three from this week:

(1). A very interesting read on the challenges and importance of archiving modern scientific research.  This is a fascinating piece on how the discoveries of today will become the history of science tomorrow; of how archivists choose what is of value to conserve, and preservation of the digital data of today.

(2). An opinion piece on the big challenges facing modern biology. Be warned this is quite technical, and quite long, but would definitely appeal at least to those with a biology background.

(3). This is an  obituary of a woman you’ve probably never heard of,  unless you’re a cancer researcher, I would imagine. Angela Hartley Brodie developed a class of breast cancer drug that has been literally life-changing for thousands of women. It’s a lovely little piece reflecting on a scientific life very well lived.

Finally, the cover photo for this week’s Sunday Science is a photograph of a high power plasma pulse in JET modelling a candidate scenario for future high yield fusion. It’s by Dr David Keeling, a plasma heating physicist at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, who kindly sent it to me in response to my piece on Euratom and UK science after Brexit.