Archive for the 'Sciencey' Category

It’s All You

Well, to celebrate my return to the blogosphere (don’t pretend you’re not celebrating) and to welcome in the new year, I thought I’d do something light-hearted. So I’m going to talk about cancer. Yay!

This is a topic I’ve been thinking about writing on for some time. It’s a topic close to my heart both personally and professionally. But I’m not unique in that. Virtually everyone will have been affected by cancer somehow, whether directly or indirectly. Various environmental and age-related factors have seen cancer rising through the charts to become the number killer in the country. We’re still waiting for Gazza to turn up with some beer and fried chicken to try to reason with it… Continue reading ‘It’s All You’

Libel Reform

Well well well. Look who’s not dead! ME, bitches.

The guns of my scientific rage fell silent this year due to a spectacularly bad year with one thing after another. But I will be back with more shortly. This isn’t just a promise. It’s a threat. Yeah.

But I have just written to my MP about libel reform which is an incredibly important issue in the wider context but especially for those who care at all about STEM (see below). The current state of affairs is extraordinarily bad for STEM and needs drastic work. There are many who have dedicated much more time to the issue, have written extensively, and actually acheived a lot of support for libel reform. I advise reading their work to learn more. This is just the text of my own personal support for the cause.

Continue reading ‘Libel Reform’

Not As Human As You Think You Are

That’s right. This post is about how you are not the person that you thought you were. In fact, you’re only about 10% the person that you thought you were.

This week, I have been delighted to play host to a rather nasty bug that seems to be doing the rounds at the moment. As well as feeling generally pants, I did also manage to rather spectacularly essentially get sick in my own eye. This was as unpleasant and painful as you might think.

Of course, when we say bug we’re not really referring to hemipteran insects (thanks, Wiki!). We actually mean some microbial infection (usually a virus when we talk about having bugs). So as I sat on the bathroom wondering if I’d washed my eye with enough bleach to truly sterilise it (Legal disclaimer: please, please don’t do this at home. At least, not in my home), I found myself hating our microbial cousins. However, once my vomit-vision had cleared up my hostility also vanished, and I decided to write this post about the “point” of bacteria and viruses. It’s not so much going to be about the general biology, but more about how they impact positively on us humans.

Continue reading ‘Not As Human As You Think You Are’

Mummies. Cancer. Bollocks!

Unfortunately, crappy science can come from all around. It is a particular slap in the face when it comes from your own institution and covers a topic you kind of care about.

And so, with a heavy heart, we must turn to look at Professor Rosalie David’s recent headline-grabbing, stillborn offering in the maternity ward of science. You may well have seen the recent reports in the papers that cancer is a “man-made” disease. The source of this story comes from a University of Manchester press release publicising a recent publication in Nature Reviews Genetics by Prof. David, who is at the University.

I know that I have bashed the way the national press handle science stories before, but in this instance I don’t think that they’re particularly culpable for the negligence displayed in this case. Unfortunately, I lay the blame with the University’s press office and with Prof. David herself.

Continue reading ‘Mummies. Cancer. Bollocks!’

DNA Primer (part 2)

Apologies for the delay in getting part 2 ready. I’ve had an insanely busy couple of weeks and, sadly, other things fell by the wayside.

So, in the first part of this post, we covered what DNA actually is. We explored what nucleotides are, and how they join together to form sequences. We then looked at how a second, complementary, strand forms. This gives double-stranded DNA which can then coil up into the double helix (so called because there are two strands).

In this post we’re going to look at what genes really are, and what a chromosome really is.

Continue reading ‘DNA Primer (part 2)’

DNA Primer (part 1)

If you already know something DNA and molecular biology techniques, I’m sure that you too will be laughing your knockers off about the pun in this post’s title. You see? An understanding of science really does make the world a brighter place!

However, if you’re one of the normal people, you almost certainly won’t get the joke. And this makes me sad. I want this blog to appeal to people across the spectrum. So occassionally I’m going to write about a broad topic that is crucial to science, and try and de-mystify it. Today I want to tackle some of the basics of DNA. It’s a big topic, so I will do this over a couple of posts I think.

We are living in a world where it is becoming increasingly important to have some understanding of DNA. There seems to be a more or less endless stream of stories in the papers talking about scientists finding the gene for this and that. In terms of the challenges that the increasing global population poses to sustainable food production, we’re going to have to start facing the reality of more and more GM foods. You don’t have to be a molecular biologist to be in a position where some understanding of genetics is necessary and/or assumed.

Continue reading ‘DNA Primer (part 1)’


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