Guest post by Dr Eva Sharpe, Science Information and Policy Manager at the The Institute of Cancer Research, London
The breast cancer susceptibility (BRCA) genes hit the headlines earlier this year with Angelina Jolie’s public announcement of her decision to have a preventative mastectomy after finding that that she was at high risk of breast and ovarian cancer. The genes are back in the spotlight last week, after the US Supreme Court ruling over whether human genes can be patented. Read more
By Jenni Lacey, Marketing Assistant at the Society of Biology
The Society of Biology’s species of the week: the Ornate horned frog
Ornate horned frogs (Ceratophrys ornata) are affectionately known as the Pacman frog due to their characteristic wide mouth and large rotund stomach.
They are sedentary amphibians and notorious for their gluttonous eating habits. Their behaviour echoes the 80′s arcade game they take this nick-name from: their instant response to food placed in their path is to eat it.
These frogs have an impressive growth rate and within two weeks of tadpoles hatching will have developed into an adult form and will continue growing until the females reach around 6 inches and males to around 4 inches.
Guest blog by Jon Hickman, teacher – science teacher at Ferndown Upper School in Dorset
I have been using British Sign Language (BSL) as a visual learning tool in my science classes for the past year. As a kinaesthetic process it is excellent for visual and tactile learners to reinforce key concepts. The majority of signs are very logical and can be used as part of a sequence of vocabulary such as cell, nucleus, cell wall, cell membrane. The signs are part of a glossary created by the Scottish Sensory Centre based at the University of Edinburgh. Read more
By Rebecca Nesbit, Society of Biology
On Friday I attended an extremely interesting discussion at the Cheltenham Science Festival on ‘can we trust climate models?’.
Our climate is influenced by a vast number of inputs and feedback loops, from ocean currents to changes in albedo. Based on these complex factors, climate models have to make predictions about air temperature, sea levels, ice cover and more. That’s before we even introduce the uncertainty of how humans will change greenhouse gas concentrations. Read more
The only special effects here are cells, which have been stained green, wrapped around nerve fibres as the axolotl regenerates a limb.
D.Knapp/E.Tanaka via Nature
By Jess Devonport, Marketing and Communications Officer at the Society of Biology
Matt Smith recently broke the internet by announcing that he would be leaving Doctor Who. This has come as something of a shock to fans, and has led to much debate over who the Eleventh Doctor will regenerate into (for what it’s worth, my vote is for Tilda Swinton).
For the uninitiated, the regeneration of the Doctor is a very handy little plot device that has allowed the show to continue for 50 years despite actors getting bored and leaving. However, aside from some wibbly-wobbly special effects, the show itself has never actually addressed how the Doctor regenerates. Read more
Guest post by Cecile Lamy, who has an MSc in Wildlife Biology and a lifelong passion for conservation, and has worked for animal charities as well as wildlife hospitals and rehabilitation centres
Tasmanian devils are carnivorous marsupials native to the Australian island state of Tasmania. They are known for their extremely loud and disturbing nocturnal screech, which has also earned them their name. However, Tasmanian devils have been making news headlines more frequently in the recent years as a fatal disease is causing the species to face extinction in the wild. Read more
By Amy Whetstone, Qualifications and Skills Officer at the Society of Biology
The yeti crab and axolotl are two bizarre but brilliant species that are rarely in the limelight, but I believe deserve to be. So broaden your animal lexicon and spread the word about these peculiar aquatic species, who have adapted to cope in the harsh and inhospitable conditions they inhabit.
Yeti crab, Kiwa hirsuta.
This pale eerie-looking crab is so named because of its long hairy arms. It has good reason, however, for its strange appearance, not least the inhospitable environment in which it lives. The yeti crab was first discovered in 2005 at a depth of over 2200 meters which explains it pale appearance; no sunlight penetrates this depth so there is no need for fancy colours. So deep in fact that it can only be reached by using an unmanned submersible. Read more
by Dimitrios Beredimas, a blogger interested in stem cells
Stem cells have the potential to help treat many serious medical conditions, including heart failure, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, retinitis pigmentosa, and debilitating spinal cord injuries. Read more
Professor Roger Bick MMedEd MBS is a researcher in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Texas.
Every time I walk past an Indian restaurant my nasal passages expand, my salivary glands produce more saliva and I look to see if I have enough time to scarf down some tandoori chicken. I can’t image not enjoying that enticing smell; or the smell of cut grass; or of leather. Yet the loss of olfaction, the ability to smell, is just one of the early symptoms of Parkinson’s that so many have to suffer.
Parkinson’s (PD) is a devastating disease that often affects a person for many years, and is associated with a multitude of problems. There is a system, the Hoehn and Yahr system, which lists five stages through which patients experience. Read more
Caroline Bellingan, a student at Wimbledon High School, shares her thoughts on World Biodiversity Day
Biodiversity is the term given to the degree of variation in life forms with in a given species or ecosystem and it is a hot topic that is being flagged up very frequently at the moment amongst those in the world of science.
Just 2 years ago the United Nations assigned 2011-2020 to be the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity, creating even more opportunities for discussion about this ever interesting, changing, evolving and growing topic. This open appreciation of the need to recognise and talk about biodiversity is something that has been received very positively by most of the scientific world. This need to talk about biodiversity is something that must be addressed and soon in UK due to the obvious diminishing range of species that we have here. This is something we can really tell from the State of Nature report that was released last night. Read more