I was interested to read about the ‘three DNA babies’ born in the UK after the mothers underwent mitochondrial donations in order to prevent their babies from developing mitochondrial disease.
According to the NHS:
Mitochondrial disease occurs when mitochondria do not prodyce enough energy. This causes a range of symptoms and the severity of the disease depends on how many cells are affected and where they are located.
I am in the middle of completing this Python project here and I wanted to create a science-based version of the game Wordle. While looking for a list of words to use, I came across Words for Nerds by The Scientist AKA Science Wordle! I managed to guess today’s word in four tries…and I found it educational. I won’t spoil the world, but let’s just say that if it came up in trivia, I’d fail miserably.
The game is played the same way as the traditional Wordle. You have six attempts to guess a five-letter word. Correctly placed letters will be shown in green, letters that are misplaced will be in orange, and letters not in the word will be greyed out.
While the game is relatively simple to play, the website itself is cluttered and you have to keep scrolling up and down to see your guesses and they keyboard. In order to see both, I had to zoom out on the page in the web browser. Still, it’s a quick and easy way to build your science vocabulary and learn something new!
According to research and data provided by Inter Scientific, ‘nicotine-free’ vapes sold across stores in England and Wales contain addictive substances such as formaldehyde and acrolein.
Both of these substances have links to cancers. Inter Scientific analyzed 52 products and found that 73% were above the legal tank capacity of 2ml.
Almost half of the products had more than twice the legal capacity. In addition, eight of the vaping devices tested contained addictive substances even though they were marketed as being nicotine free. Some of these devices have 50% more than the legal limit (20mg/ml) of nicotine.
This is bad news for young people who use vaping devices regularly and believe that they are avoiding risk by going for nicotine-free products. Vape flavours are also adding to this risk by making it easy for users to inhale a large amount in a short period of time.
Once again, these findings prove that people using these devices need to be aware of what their inhaling. The government and medical industry also need to move quickly when it comes to regulating these devices in order to avoid an epidemic in the future.
At first, I wondered how to answer this and link it to a scientific subject – and then I had a light bulb moment. Sci-fi, anyone? Ironically, I don’t consider myself a fan of science fiction, and yet I am inexplicably drawn to it anyway.
To answer the question, I’ve probably watched Smallville more than five times, or at the very least specific seasons of the show. Smallville was a show detailing the life of a young Clark Kent, a character more commonly known as Superman.
I’m always fascinated by the science of Superman. Is it possible for a man to fly, and what would the circumstances be? Is it possible for a physical being to be harmed by a rock?
According to Science World, one reason Superman is able to fly is that he’s from another planet where the gravitational pull (i.e. the phenomenon that keeps our feet firmly planted on the ground) is less than it is on Earth. That is definitely something to think about the next time someone tells me that Superman isn’t cool because he’s too powerful.
In the meantime, I’m going to hunt for a copy of ‘The Science of Superman’ by Mark Wolverton and see if it answers a question that’s been burning in my mind. How does Superman shoot fire out of his eyes?
In this new series, I will be examining the day-to-day questions in which the answer lies in science. You know, those questions that you get when something happens and you find yourself wondering why?
Today’s question is based on a little incident that happened to me recently. And, if I’m being honest, it’s not the first time.
The Big Question is…
Why does metal spark in the microwave?
I am sure most of us have been there. You forget yourself and the next thing you know, your microwave is giving you a mini fireworks display. I have decided to look into why this happens to ensure that it’s on my mind the next time I feel like warming up cold hotdogs wrapped up in foil.
As per How Stuff Works, it turns out its to do with how the microwave heats up the food. A microwave emits actual radio waves at a frequency of 2.4Ghz – and these waves are absorbed by water, fats and sugars and release heat, allowing the food to be warmed up. The waves are not absorbed by plastic, glass or ceramics – hence why you can heat food in these dishes. If you have ever heated something out of a packet, you’ll be familiar with instructions that say to use ‘non-metallic’ containers/bowls/plates.
This is because the radio waves emitted by the microwave are not absorbed by metal.
When they come into contact with small pieces of metal, like the edge of a piece of foil, an electrical current runs through and this is what ignites sparks. If the affected foil is attached to any form of paper, this can be what leads to fires.
Why does this happen?
Well, metals like aluminium foil tend to be flat and thin. When the food inside is heated, the water molecules evaporate into steam – releasing bursts of energy. With the food covered, there is nowhere for this energy to go and the foil itself becomes very hot. This can be very dangerous if the microwave is left unsupervised.
So, the lesson here is to always take precautions and ensure that foil is not used inside the microwave!
The essential key for writing is to write regularly — like it or not — great ideas come often by writing; releasing the subconscious — waiting for inspiration and ideas will not work, but it does help to have a notebook with you all the time for sudden brainstorms or inspiration.
Prof. Robert Marc Friedman, University of Oslo
I like this quote a lot, and it is true. I often come up with my ideas when I’m sitting down and working on older projects that I’m unsure about – and often the new idea turns out much better than what I was working on initially. I would love to carry a notebook around for sudden brainstorms, but I’d probably lose it. I’m thinking of physically attaching one to my person (it exists!). Our phones are walking notebooks, but unlike paper, it’s too easy to get distracted and never revisit ideas I store in my notes app.
The story of Theranos, a multi-billion dollar tech company, its founder Elizabeth Holmes, the youngest self-made female billionaire, and the massive fraud that collapsed the company.
I love watching documentaries, and during the pandemic, I whizzed through a whole bunch of them! I was happy to find one based on Elizabeth Holmes and her ill-fated company, Theranos. I also read a book written by one of the journalists who helped to break the story (Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou). I still find it fascinating how many people were drawn into this web Elizabeth Holmes spun, especially given the calibre of people she managed to convince to invest in Theranos and work for it.
To give some background information, Theranos was a health technology company that made headlines when they developed a device called Edison which could supposedly perform a lot of blood tests quickly – the hook? The device only needed a pinprick of blood. Sounds good, right?
Unfortunately, it turned out to be smoke and mirrors. Not only was Theranos faking its results, but its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, was charged with several counts of fraud.
Every year I make the same resolution – to read more. A few years ago I resolved to read 52 books in one year. It didn’t work. Being a so-called millennial, I remember the time when there was no social media. The internet was around, but you needed a dial-up modem and it took fifteen minutes to load one page. I had no choice but to read and that’s what I did.
I read many books as a child. My understanding of the world and the people in it came from books. My ability to write both fiction and non-fiction is down to reading. Yet, I struggle to sit down and read books today. Occasionally, I’ll find a book that hits the right note and it feels like the world falls away. I get sucked into another universe and I feel good. And then the book ends, forcing me to keep on starting new ones to try and achieve the same high – similar to what happens when you finish binge-watching a show.
I have now started reading more nonfiction books. With nonfiction, there is rarely a hook or climax. It’s just reading about the topic of interest. They’re not always easy reads, but since when was reading supposed to be easy? Reading is fun, but it’s also a valuable learning tool that benefits us in many different ways. From today, I’m looking at reading as a task and not a pastime.
On that note, here are five ways that reading is good for us and our brains!
1. You Learn From It
A parent or a teacher has only his lifetime; a good book can teach forever. —Louis L’Amour
It’s no surprise that more children turned to books during the national lockdowns imposed as part of the world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly, we were all faced with more free time than usual. There are so many hours we can spend binging TV shows. For children, in particular, having more time to read was highly beneficial. Not just for educational purposes, but because they renewed their enjoyment in reading in a world where everything is becoming increasingly web-based.
Many of us learn what we know today from books, and reading will always be a good learning tool. Reading can improve our vocabulary. An extensive range of vocabulary is linked to higher levels of intelligence. That person you know who always uses big words? They probably read a lot! Children who read a lot may become smarter later on in life. I’d say that’s a good reason to read. Not to be outdone, reading can also increase brain strength. It’s like a power-up for our brains. Reading can improve memory function and slow down the natural decline as we age.
It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations—something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own. —Katherine Patterson
According to an editorial in Nature (dated 10 Jan 2022), it is time for us to come to terms with the fact that COVID-19 is here to stay.
Given the amount of pandemic fatigue there is at the moment, many people have already come to terms with it. However, as Nature states, this doesn’t mean that we should stop taking precautions to reduce transmission. With Omicron emerging as a serious threat to moving on from the virus, experts are stressing the need to continue wearing masks and social distancing.
It’s also worth noting that the virus will continue to mutate and we will see more variants, but thanks to the ongoing research, scientists will be better equipped to handle them.
So, it might be presumptuous to say that this (vaccines, wearing masks, jumping three feet into the air if someone coughs nearby) is our new normal, but it’s our normal right now.
In the previous part, I spoke about food insecurity and how it impacts the lives of many around the world. In this part, we’ll be learning what food insecurity is, and what measures are being taken to combat it and the last impact it has on society.
Food security is made up of four different components. This includes:
What happens when there is a lack of food security?
The lack of food security comes with expensive drawbacks, and it may be cheaper to avoid food insecurity than to reverse it. Currently, most governments have been unable to come up with workable solutions. This leaves a hole that is filled by third sector organisations, some of which are not very secure themselves.
Food banks have become more common and they are plugging gaps in society. However, they are not a sustainable alternative to the real issue at hand – people are finding it increasingly difficult to survive in a world that keeps on evolving and growing, leaving those who can’t afford necessities behind. Continue reading →