HeLa – more than just a cell line.

March 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

In trying to remember if I’d ever read a non-fiction book I realized that of course I had, and, actually, that most were about science. But none have gripped me in the same way as the book I just finished. In just over 24 hours I had turned the last page of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot and realised why it received such critical acclaim.

I tend not to enjoy harping on about a good book – I want to appreciate them for what they are; not dissect their every sentence, hunting for hidden meanings whose beauty and subtleties are only destroyed when you try to describe them.

But this book deserves every ounce of praise and every award it is given.

It describes the fascinating story of the woman whose cells have lived on for longer outside her body than she ever did herself. They have been flown into space, blown up in nuclear bombs and had just about every conceivable disease injected into them. They helped establish cell culture techniques and equipment; develop a vaccine for polio and unlocked some of the secrets of the world’s biggest killers.

Some of Henrietta Lacks' immortal cells

Some of Henrietta Lacks' immortal cells

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Feeling woozy?

February 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Had a drop too much?

Have you woken up with a dry mouth? A terrible headache? Severe nausea?

You’ve probably got no need to panic, and the likelihood is a coffee, a bacon sandwich and a couple of aspirin will sort you out. Chances are you had too good a night last night and you’re now doubting you’ll be able to leave the house without sunglasses. You don’t need to be a doctor to diagnosis this one – it’s a hangover, the worst of the weekend visitors.

Whether this affliction has followed you for years or if, as you get older, your fresh-faced, leap-out-of-bed attitude is finally catching up with you, most people who’ve had a drink have also had a hangover. And to use a phrase often mumbled from beneath the duvet, “What the hell happened last night?”

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New Year, New News?

January 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

Well, 2010 is done and dusted now and I’m going to make a concerted effort to keep my blog better updated in 2011. Moving on from the ranting and raving, maybe I’ll get on to writing about what I’m up to on a day-to-day basis as well!

So long 2010 – you’ve brought us the iPad, the first carbon-negative volcano, a new Government, a lot of rallies and protests and many many scientific discoveries, debacles and debates (I do so like alliteration).

There have been plenty of round-ups and specials going out over the past few weeks, so I’ll sign off now until next time (with my resolution in mind!) by pointing in the direction of a couple that have entertained me – from New Scientist’s 2010 Review/2011 Preview, through Dean Burnett’s particularly amusing satirical look at science in 2010 on his blog, Science Digestive, to Sense About Science’s annual celebrity science shockers – enjoy!

 

Are scientists a little punch drunk?

October 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

When I saw this piece on the New Scientist website I was obviously intrigued. A headline about a robot punching people? Under the guise of it being in line with Isaac Asimov‘s rules? Asimov has written huge numbers of books exploring the interaction of robots and humans, including I, Robot, but didn’t he say a robot could never hurt a human? What was going on here… I clicked on (I was, in fact, so intrigued that I was spurred into subscribing – something I’ve been meaning to do but never quite got round to. Anyway, I digress).

As I read on, I was captivated; this is a perfect science story – someone doing something that seems a bit whacky, but there’s an underlying purpose to it all. I can tell by now you’re as intrigued as me… why are some Slovenian scientists getting robots to punch their friends? The suspense is almost unbearable, I’m sure.

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What’s going on here then?

October 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

It’s another science blog, I hear you cry! Well it’s not just any science blog; it’s a blog following my progress through the deep, dark world of science communication…

So be prepared for blogs on just about anything, and everything – it all depends on what catches my eye. It might be something I like, something that ‘gets my goat’, something that makes me stop and think or just something that makes me smile!

Read, comment and (hopefully) enjoy!

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