Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Climate Change in Comic Form

 This is really cool. But read the comments, too. Basically it's great until the last section, where he over-simplifies and over-sensationalises a bit. Still, it's a really nice, easy to follow, explanation of why not to necessarily listen to the headline on climate change.

Okay, having read the comments I'm annoyed enough by some of them to add this: I don't know all the facts. I don't have the expertise to understand them all, I suspect, nor the time, currently, to read all the evidence. However, I trust the 97.5% of the top 200 climate scientists (although how on Earth they measured that I don't know). In any case, fossil fuels will run out eventually (and so will fuel for nuclear power). The Sun, winds, tides - these won't run out until the human race is long gone. Renewable or green energy sources are worth investing into because they are sustainable, unlike current practices.

I also kinda agree with Drew when he says "The ideas of conservation and renewable resources should not be seen as the only way to save us from global warming. Instead these ideas should be supported because they are the morally responsible thing to do for our planet."  I'm not usually one for bringing morals into scientific debate, but we are doing things to the planet that we don't know the long term effects of, and I for one don't think the risks of continuing unchecked are worth it.


Ahhh, holidays. Or should I say "vacation", because that's what it is >_>

"Vacation". You vacate your room, your college, the city... but not your work! *insert evil laughter from Captain Tripos here* ...sorry, Cambridge reference.

So, my department this year sets us a 3000-5000 word essay to do over the Christmas holidays, which is supposed to be essentially a week of full time work. Woo.  Actually, though, it's almost enjoyable.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Aliens in California! ...or not.

You’ve probably heard about it by now. In fact I’m probably late to the party, so to speak, in terms of blogging about this... but never mind. Here it goes... NASA discovers arsenic-loving life! 

But wait, what? It’s from California? Not Mars? And it’s a bacterium? That’s not as exciting as it sounded...

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Viruses vs Cancer!

A paper published in Clinical Cancer Research earlier this month describes a treatment for cancer that utilises the herpes simplex virus to selectively kill cancer cells, while leaving normal human cells intact due to deletions that make it unable to grow in them. I'm almost certain this is the same treatment I heard about in a lecturer's anecdote in first year (obviously quite a way before the study was published):

This group had developed a treatment for cancers of the head and neck, using the herpes virus. The treatment is pretty effective at shrinking tumours and making surgical removal of the remaining tumour possible. They have one patient with a tumour on his tongue, which understandably limits his diet - he probably has to be fed through a tube. So they use this treatment on him, the tumour shrinks, they operate, he's discharged. A few months later, though, he's back - with liver failure.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Error bars

 I am currently about half way though an eight week summer placement in a lab. I'm part of a small group working under one supervisor, in a larger group all doing research with a similar 'theme'. It's remarkably diverse, though. And strangely, each lab seems to have a 'trademark' technique! For example, I have done a lot of real-time PCR. Another summer student in the same building seems to do nothing but western blots. Another is doing a lot of gel-based PCR; others do a lot of tissue culture... I'm not sure if it's just the nature of a summer project, or the nature of the research done in each lab, but it amuses me. And actually, doing nothing but designing and running real-time PCR is suprisingly not that tedious, although I am excited about maybe getting to do some FISH next week (yay, glowing things!).

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Slime Moulds (also, hello)

This is something I learnt about back in first year, and I thought was pretty awesome, so, having written this up previously on a personal journal, I'm reposting it in edited form to hopefully give this new blog a good start :)

Name: Dictyostelium dicoideum

What is it?: Dictyostelium is a unicellular organism... most of the time. It lives in soil, feeding on bacteria which themselves feed on decaying leaf matter (yum). Slime moulds were formerly classed as fungi, since both reproduce by releasing spores. Unlike fungi, however, these single-cell amoebae are able to move around.

Image: Dictyostelium labelled with GFP, by Richard Firtel, University of
California,San Diego. From the website of Eduardo Kac.