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.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Pulling Teeth.

Teeth have always fascinated me. The little pearly chompers in our mouths help us to speak, chew, show our feelings and give structure to our faces. As we know, we are born with 2 sets of teeth: milk teeth which start to sprout at 6 months old and fall out around the age of 6/7 and are replaced by the adult teeth which we have for the rest of our lives.

On average, most adults have 32 teeth comprising of 8 incisors, 4 canines, 8 premolars, 12 molars and 4 wisdom teeth. I use the word average, as some people do not have wisdom teeth either through dental choice, or they just have not grown through.

picture of a skull with both
adult and baby teeth still intact.
Astonishingly a 17 year old boy called Ashik Gavai has had 232 teeth removed from his mouth this week. This is 7 times the amount of teeth found in the average adult mouth.  The 17 year old had a swelling on the right hand side of his face, in the area of his lower jaw.  He sought medical help and was referred to the JJ hospital where his condition was found to be complex odontoma (where there is a mass of dental tissue (e.g. enamel, dentin or cementum) found as little toothlets in the lower jaw), and he was operated upon. All of the odontoma was removed and there will be no permenant damage to the structure, shape or function of his lower jaw.

Explorer Fact: there are 2 types of odontoma: compound and complex.