Moved!

14 Aug

Hello! As you may have noticed, this blog hasn’t been updated for a while now and is now defunct.

It’s been a busy year, and a lot’s happened, but the result of this is I now have my own domain, so please check out http://sciencehubb.co.uk/ for the new science blog.

I’m also documenting my experiences of trying to be a freelance science writer on another blog at http://stupidityandscience.wordpress.com/. Head over to this to find out what’s been going on.

Cheers, and hope to see you soon!

Gavin

Cholera’s Spring-loaded Nano-dagger

28 Feb

Bacteria have a number of tools to fend off of foes or attack competitors, but now a new method can be added to the list: a spring-loaded dagger.

Research published in Nature by scientists at the Harvard Medical School and the California Institute of Technology investigated the structure of a mechanism used by the bacteria vibrio cholera to kill both competing bacteria and human cells, called the Type VI Secretary System (T6SS).

Scanning electron microscope image of Vibrio cholerae bacteria, which infect the digestive system

It’s known that T6SS can deliver toxic proteins into nearby cells, but until now the exact mechanism was not known; now it appears T6SS could be using a poison tipped dagger to deliver this killing blow.

“People aren’t surprised that animals have really interesting ways to hurt each other – snakes have venom, bears have claws,” says Grant Jensen, professor of biology at Caltech and co-leader of the study. “But they might be surprised that a single cell within one of those animals’ bodies is still 100 times larger than the bacterial cells we’re talking about, and yet the bacterial cells contain weapons that are so sophisticated. That’s the marvel.” Continue reading

EEG Says: “No”

29 Jun

Hello all, what we have right here is a guest post (!) by the awesome @JustMaryClare, a fellow student of Sci-Comms, due to graduate soon, and an excellent writer to boot. One of, hopefully, more to come.

If you like what you read, please do leave a comment, if you like it so much you want to give her a job (and that’d be just swell) just drop her a line on Twitter and I’m sure she’ll be in touch!

So, on that note, I shall leave you in her capable hands

Gavin.

I have heard a lot recently about amazing EEGs (Electroencephalographs) being able to “read your mind” and “tell if you’re lying”. Having just finished a Neuroscience degree, where I was told that EEGs are “not a magic tool” and can in no way be relied upon to be absolutely accurate, I’m left wondering what it is I have missed.

Continue reading

SciBars and public engagement

29 Mar

‘noon all,

So I have a day off work and thought I’d just let any of you reading know that I’m now also writing on the blog for the Oxford SciBar (http://www.oxfordscibar.com), so new and (possibly) interesting things will end up there, but that doesn’t mean I’ll no longer use this blog.  It’s a pretty exciting thing for me to be involved in, and I intend to make the best of it!

It just means I can continue with the arbitrary profanity on this one, and write things a little more professional (well, less sweary and probably better thought out…) over there.

The SciBar is a great idea, where we get some funding from the British Science Association (http://www.britishscienceassociation.org/web/) and get to take science into a much more relaxed atmosphere: the pub. What better way to appeal to the British psyche…?

Continue reading

A trivial annoyance on dates

9 Mar

Working for a Contract Research Organisation, in a highly regulated environment can be challenging at times, but the big things are always good challenges to overcome, leaving plenty of room for the little things to really irk you into an un-justifiable rage of impotent moaning.

Today’s impotent moan: Date formats

Has my bloody antibody sodding well expired or not?!

Teeth are gnashed, hair is pulled,

‘Can I do the fecking experiment today or not? Has the bloody cock-weasel of an antibody expired?”

Continue reading

The MMR Controversy: A Perfect Storm In a Teacup

14 Feb

The following you’re about to read/skim/ignore was an essay I had cause to write on a scientific controversy.

It’s a little bit edited and it’s certainly not perfect, it’s also about 2,000 words or so, but I though I’d stick it on here anyway.

If you have the inclination, interest and the time, please do read it and let me know what you think.

The MMR Controversy: A Perfect Storm In a Teacup.

Continue reading

The strangers within you: Part I

4 Feb

How much of you is, well, you know, you?

Obviously, all of you; but where did it come from?  There’s quite a lot about you that’s interesting, and might be a surprise to you.  It was to me and this is why I’ve embarked on writing this and the next few posts.

You probably already know that you get half of your DNA – the parcel of information that encodes your biology, where things go, how and when they work – from each of your parents.

Well, that’s not quite true.

Continue reading

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