Biology

RoboEars

© ACS

© ACS

The story

I come across a lot of science news stories (as you can imagine) and  have noticed that journalists are attracted to certain topics – ones that they think have a certain ‘sexy’ appeal to their readers I imagine. Bionic body parts seems to be one of them – conjuring imagery of a future where we are all enhanced by ultra-efficient prosthetic body parts like RoboCop.

One of these stories that hit the press recently was the news that researchers in Princeton have created a ‘bionic’ ear. More

Nobel news

The winners of the 2012 Nobel prizes were announced last week.

I thought I would post some videos that explain the work of the winning scientists which you can use to inspire the next generation of scientists.

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The value of water

The story

All Earth's water, liquid fresh water, and water in lakes and rivers. Credit: Howard Perlman, USGS

As human population grows and pollution levels rise, our demand for clean water increases but its supply dwindles. How long will it be before our planet cannot provide its population with enough clean water to survive?
Some would say that this is already happening..

Japanese design company, Takram, was asked to design a water bottle that could be used to used to ensure that we could get enough daily water to survive if the worst case scenario become reality. But they went one step further and designed a set of cyborg organs, the Hydrolemic System, that could be used to reduce water loss from the body in order to keep intake down to a minimum.

The video shows how they would work.

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Rare Disease Day 2012

Raise and hold hands at 12 noon today and show your Solidarity with rare disease patients around the world.

The main purpose of Rare Disease Day is to make more people aware of the 6000 – 8000 rare diseases that affect people around the world. A rare disease is one that affects less than 1 in 2000 people; most are life threatening and the majority have no cure. More

Cell alchemy

Credit: Karin Pierre, Institut de Physiologie, UNIL, Lausanne.

The story

Researchers in California have successfully converted mouse skin cells into brain cells, eliminating the need for stem cells.

It is hoped that the same procedure could be carried out on human cells, bringing the possibility of stem cell therapy for conditions such as Alzheimer’s closer to reality.

This is a great story to use in a GCSE lesson on stem cells. Students could discuss why this is a better alternative to using those from embryos.

Weblinks

BBC news story

Great stem cell teaching resources from the Learn Genetics website.

 

Spider-goat, spider-goat…

Credit: the prodigal untitled13 @ Flickr

…does whatever a spider-goat does.

Can she swing

from a web?

No she can’t

she’s a goat…

…however, she can produce spider silk proteins in her milk.

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The father of genetics

This is a great video about Gregor Mendel and his work – a topic found in most GCSE science specifications.

It was produced by Nottingham Trent University for their ‘My favourite scientist’ project.  You can find videos about other scientists on their website.

Fertility treatments

A couple of links and short lesson ideas based on recent news stories to use in lessons on fertility treatments.

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Counting the animals

Credit: Shopping Diva at Flickr

The story

Today sees the start of London zoo’s annual stock-take where the numbers of each species are counted. This task maybe a quick job for the keepers of the big cats or large reptiles but spare a thought for the invertebrate keepers, counting every butterfly could keep them occupied for up to 4 weeks.

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