Articles

EUSci magazine is released three times a year, with a wide range of themes covering diverse subjects from across science. Suitable articles that don't make it into the print magazine will usually still be edited and displayed online. Have a look at what other people have written, and submit a piece yourself!

Science and crime

Popular crime dramas such as CSI, Bones, and NCIS, have triggered an increased public interest in forensic science. Scientific tools to investigate suspicious deaths have been handed down since 1248 AD, when the Chinese described how to distinguish drowning from strangulation. But scientific tools have also been used by innovative criminals to commit clever crimes, showing that science can be used for both solving and committing a crime. In this issue’s Focus, we take a closer look at this ambivalent relationship between science and crime. Read more »

Stay Sharper For Longer

With the advent of old age, incidences of misplaced keys and embarrassing moments of forgotten names occur more often. It is well understood that certain cognitive skills start to decline and others improve as you inch closer to becoming a senior citizen. Yet, there are some 70-year-olds who can still beat those at 50 on a memory test. How do they retain such abilities and how can that knowledge be used to our advantage?

Results emerging from a unique study ‘Midlife in the United States’ (MIDUS), have shown that there might indeed be ways to slow down the inevitable slide. Margie Lachman, psychologist at Brandeis University and principal investigator for MIDUS, found education to be the most essential element of mental fitness. For middle-agers, a university degree obtained during younger days can slow the brain’s aging process by up to a decade. Read more »

Little Brains in a Dish

In 1953, Watson and Crick’s discovery of the chemical structure of DNA turned biology upside down. Deciphering DNA as a molecular means of storing and passing on genetic information opened the genetic tool chest that now allows us to interact specifically with our genes. Now, six decades after Watson and Crick’s discovery, biology continues to gather momentum. As the most recent instalment of our rapidly-expanding knowledge of life, our generation has witnessed the birth of another revolutionary concept with enormous potential: stem cells. Read more »

Pericytes: Turn Your Fat Into Bones

“Like a spider on a tube”: this is how Professor Bruno Péault, Chair of Vascular Regeneration, describes his particular cell of interest. Pericytes, literally surrounding cells, can be found, as their name suggests, wrapped around small capillaries in the human body. They are stem cells, capable of generating cell types such as cartilage, bone, and smooth muscle and, although they were first described over a century ago, their true importance wasn’t established until very recently. Read more »

Much Ado About Snacking

Obesity in developed countries, in particular the United Kingdom and America, has reached epidemic proportions. Human beings, it seems, are hard-wired to steadily acquire reserves of fat over long time scales, eating a tiny excess of calories every day when food is in plentiful supply. A rough estimate suggests that eating a daily excess of 120 calories (or one chocolate biscuit) over the course of a decade results in a gain of 50 kg of fat. The amount of weight-loss products and designer diets has boomed in proportion to rich nation's waistlines, though this has had little clear impact on the incidence of obesity. Two recent studies tried to shed light on our eating habits, and how we might go about changing them. Read more »

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