Thursday, 28 February 2013


My whole basis behind creating The Science Tree was to share something which I believe I have a passion for with others, if I could inspire or interest just 1 person it would make me happy, and I would feel like I had succeeded in my goal.

Ever since, I was young, I loved reading and learning about animals, or the human body or even certain aspects of the dreaded subject Physics, but it wasn't until I entered sixth form, when I really felt inspired by my Chemistry and Biology teachers and through extra reading.

Science is a hard topic to study especially to a higher level, as often as a youngster you are taught a very,very simplified version, and then gradually the difficulty mounts as you grow (you could say it's directly proportional!). However I have always kept up this passion, and now I study Biochemistry at university. If I can get there so can you too! (You just have to believe in yourself)

The main point behind this post, is a thank you to all the Explorers who have ever read a post I've written as it such a great encouragement, and I will try and find more interesting things to discuss with you.

You are also my inspiration to continue exploring the ever-expanding realm of the sciences.

The Explorer
PS. happy the determination of the chemical structure of DNA day!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

You light up my life

Do you know the scene from Pixar's Finding Nemo, when Dory and Marlin get the mask stuck on the face of the giant fish which lights up or have you you ever heard of the glow worm?

This mechanism of 'lighting up' and 'glowing' is called bio-luminescence and is rife in the depths of many an ocean and in our skies. Not only are the lights used for attracting prey but it is also thought to prevent the predator from becoming prey.

Bio-luminescence unlike normal luminescence is a form of cold light emission, where less than 1/5 of the light energy produces heat. A vast majority of deep-sea creatures have this ability to illuminate themselves in the blue and green spectrum as it is these wavelengths which are able to travel through the water most effectively. in comparison non-marine bio-luminescence is less widespread with the most known kinds belonging to the glow worm and the firefly.

Many organism have been adapted to 'light up' for several different purposes: counter illumination camouflage (where the organism matches the overhead light), mimicry, the attraction of mates, distraction of a predator, repulsion, communicative purposes and for navigational reasons.

Scientists now, are trying to find a way to harness bio-luminescence and use it in the biotechnological field; with the possibly of the creation of trees which glow in the dark, reducing the need for overhead streetlamps, or Christmas trees which do not require lights, thus helping to decrease the number of fires related to electrical faults.

Just remember humans are not the only organism with all their lights blazing!

Explorer Fact: in Europe dried fish skins were used before the invention of the Davy safety lamp, as they would give off a weak glow.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Love Science

As today, is Valentine's Day (Happy Valentine's Day!) it seems appropriate to focus on the emotion, love. Obviously there are different intensities to the feeling, there is the milder form of admiration, want, or full on passionate lust, however it seems that all these different kinds, have the same basic origins.

Love, is not a very well understood emotion and it thought to have a basis in evolution. As human infants are the only organism to completely rely on their parents for such a prolonged period of time (18 years) it was seen that love helps to promote parental support and form closer knit bonds, between child and parents.

The neurological aspects of  love can be found via carrying out neurological studies. The chemicals involved in the feeling of love are: testosterone,oestrogen  dopamine, noradrenaline, serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin. All of these drugs help to display the characteristics of sexual behaviour, the attractive portion of a relationship and the want to form long term bonds.

So what's your definition of love?

Explorer Fact: Biologist Jeremy Griffith defines love as being unconditional selflessness.

Thursday, 7 February 2013


A new nature documentary Africa, has been hitting our television screens over the last few weeks, enlightening us, and making us emotional when we follow the lives of some of Africa's greatest animals. However, these great animals, like the lion, elephant and rhino all, face the stark possibility of being poached and their hides, tusks and horns, being sold on the black market.

According to recent statistics it appears, that the most prolific poaching occurring in Africa is to elephants. Over 11,000 elephants have been killed by poachers ONLY in Gabon since 2004, for their tusks which are traded to Asia, for use as jewellery or in medicines. Gabon is a home, to nearly 40,000 Forest Elephants, and when you look at the figures for those killed, the reality is that it is a quarter of them ave been murdered. Although Gabon are trying to prevent these poachers, the national reserves are such large expanses that it is hard to catch, let alone find these poachers. And to make things even harder, the poachers aren't even from Gabon themselves, they are from neighbouring countries like Cameroon and The Democratic Republic of Congo.


Sunday, 3 February 2013

You've Higgs the jackpot!!

Professor Peter Higgs, one half of the duo who identified the Higgs-Boson particle is inspiring Scottish pupils in secondary school. He is launching The Higgs Prize which will act not only as inspiration to the next generation but also support the future for science. His prize is open to those who excel in Physics, and is said to launch on Tuesday, in order to coincide with Scotland showcasing it's scientific prowess.

Part of the Higgs prize, aside from the name, will allow the winner to take a trip to the science headquarters of the world, CERN and view experiments and speak to world-renowned scientists.

Personally, as a young scientist myself, I feel that this is a brilliant decision, as it will allow children to aspire not only to excel in science but also to see the 'bigger picture' of how scientists actually work and develop theories. Moreover, it can act as a springboard, helping them and us in the future to succeed in discovering new aspects in all fields of modern day science. However this prize should not just be kept in the realm of Scotland, it should be rolled out across all secondary schools in the UK and Ireland.

Explorer Fact: The Higgs-Boson particle is generally referred to as 'The God particle'