Thursday, 19 December 2013

Eye Spy.

Having written about the wonders and marvels of the 3D printers, this next post really shows the  step up in terms of using printers for something other than printing out words and images.

It is hard, I believe to categorise this part of the body as equipment, but it plays an essential role for day-to-day living.

 A Cambridge University team has had a proof of principle piece of work published in the journal Biofabrication, which explains the preliminary trials of using printers to print new cells for the eyes to try and treat sight loss.

Being in the early stages of research, the team have shown that an inkjet printer (the type that most of us use at home, or in the office) can be used to print 2 types of eye cells: glial and ganglion cells. The experiment was carried out on adult mice, and once printed the cells were able to survive and grow in a growth medium. These cells are used in the body to transmit information from the eye to the brain, and helps to protect neurons. 

The team next plan to try and print rods and cones; which are light sensitive photoreceptors. This could be a really interesting field of research and possibly could help many get their sight back, or even help to retain what little sight they have left. 

Currently the experiment is still waiting for the go ahead in terms of human trials. But from what I have read it seems a promising start.

Explorer Fact: you actually see upside down but it is your brain which turns the image the "right" way round.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

What is science?

This post is a bit of a diversion from my normal factual take on scientific news. But I was thinking:

 What actually defines science?

 Is it the inclusion of facts and figures? Hypotheses and theories? The ability to think and analyse something that no-one else before has questioned?

Generally speaking, the majority of scientific discovery builds upon what has gone before. For example, Mendeleev didn't just coin the periodic table from thin air he worked from all the other basic predecessor tables, and then reworked the places for the elements to sit to match their characteristic properties.

It seems that science isn't only about 'discovery' but it is also about looking at something through fresh eyes and in a way that makes you stop and question a theory and dive a little deeper.