Issue 7

Issue 7

From the editors: 
We would like to say a big hello and introduce ourselves to all EUSci readers as the new EUSci editors. Thank you to Hayden and Jess for all their hard work putting the last two issues of EUSci together. We hope that we’ve managed to live up to the high standard they set and that you enjoy reading this issue as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together! This issue’s focus explores an important theme that crosses a multitude of scientific fields; that of decision-making. This theme has two sides to it; firstly, that of how scientific technology is rapidly changing the way in which decisions are made for us, and secondly how novel scientific information is being used to make decisions that influence all of us. The focus explores a range of topics covering these two issues. Our features cover as diverse an array of topics as ever, ranging from obesity to synchrotrons. It is credit to our contributors that we continue to publish a wide range of articles covering topics across the spectrum of scientific research. The features deadline, for issue 8 will be the 11th of October and as usual, we welcome submissions from anyone who has an interest in writing about science. Happy reading, Lynne Harris and Catie Lichten
From the president: 
Welcome to issue 7 of  EUSci magazine! Why did you decide to pick it up? Your eye caught by the front cover, an interest in science? Possibly you are a regular reader or may be one of us zealously thrust this magazine into your hand at the fresher’s fair. Either way, I hope you agree that it is a thing of beauty, containing the best in science journalism; written, illustrated and edited by University of Edinburgh students and staff. However this magazine is only one facet of the expanding EUSci media empire. Our fortnightly award nominated podcast, conveys the latest need-to- know science related news (available on itunes), while the seminar series is an opportunity for anyone to expound upon a pet scientific obsession. For the imaginative the EUSciFi short story competition returns and we have just purchased a digital camera – ideas for EUSci TV wanted! Want to get involved? Meet us in person during fresher week or visit the newly revamped containing information on all past, present and future activities. We can also be stalked through our facebook fan page and twitter feed (@eusci).Alex Sinclair

New Alzheimer’s Treatments made Possible by Novel Study

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have identified the role of an enzyme which helps control brain activity. The findings, published in the renowned journal Nature Neuroscience, may pave the way for new treatments for Alzheimer’s and epilepsy. Read more »

What a copycat

Bowerbirds are best known for the construction and subsequent decoration of their elaborate bowers, which are used by males to attract mates.  But it is not so widely known that bowerbirds are also proficient mimics, typically mimicking over a dozen other species and environmental noises. Read more »

Flights over forest give scientists aerial view of climate change

A team from the GeoSciences department at The University of Edinburgh, lead by Dr Caroline Nichol, has launched a programme to assess how much carbon dioxide boreal forests are absorbing. These are located around the Arctic Circle and their size is comparable to Amazon rainforests. Read more »

Alcohol-related deaths are connected with ethnic divides

In the UK, alcohol-related deaths have doubled between 1991 and 2006, especially in Scotland with nearly 1,500 deaths each year. Research has shown that liver disease, liver cirrhosis, accidents and suicides are the most common causes of death associated with extensive alcohol consumption in Scotland. Read more »

Nurturing Scottish biotech

Scotland is a world-recognised hub for the biotechnology industry - from academic driven science to full-scale commercial production. The size of this industry is often underestimated, and key to the success of it all is a supportive community with clear communication and collaboration. This must happen not just between scientists, whose ideas are the foundation of the industry, but also with the public and private sectors who are responsible for helping these ideas grow into successful ventures. Getting these groups to talk isn’t always an easy thing, which is where Nexxus – a life sciences networking organisation – steps in.

From a mere idea thrown about during the formative years of Scottish biotech in the mid 1990s, Nexxus has grown into a successful, publicly funded industry organisation with staff in Edinburgh and Glasgow devoted to facilitating networking and communication within the industry. Read more »

Statistically significant

"There are lies, damned lies and statistics."
"97.3% of all statistics are made up."
"There are three kinds of statisticians: Those who can count and those who can’t."

You have probably heard statements like these before. It seems that in the popular imagination, statisticians fall somewhere between lawyers and used-car salesmen. Yet anyone working with statisticians will tell you that most of them take enormous pride in the accuracy of their results, and would rather cut off an arm than falsify a confidence interval. So why is How to Lie with Statistics still a best-seller after more than 50 years? Why does Ben Goldacre devote a whole chapter in his book Bad Science to the problem of bad stats? What is going wrong in the world of statistics? Read more »

You are what your mother ate

In the last 20 years we have observed a vast increase in the incidence of obesity and its myriad of associated diseases, but we lack a full understanding of what has caused this. There are many players that come together to make up 'team obesity', some having greater impact on the epidemic than others. The superstar strikers are definitely the changes to diet and lifestyle observed in recent years. On the substitutes' bench are genetic mutations; those identified mainly alter feeding habits and cause severe obesity. These are thankfully very rare. Scientists are continually searching for more players in the team who may then be targeted in a therapeutic manner. A strong candidate that has drawn attention recently is foetal programming. Read more »

The coalition government and you: the future of British science

The election campaigns of the three major political parties in Britain weren't highly focused on science, engineering and technology (SET). Therefore  very little was discussed in public about the in-depth SET policies of the parties. Now that the election has taken place and a new government is in Whitehall, it is time the Con-Lib Dem government outlined the future for British SET in more detail. Read more »

Close Encounters of the Wired Mind: When Cucumbers Taste Pink

When Patient X meets psychologist Dr Julia Simner, he prefers to call her by her first name Julia than by her nickname 'Jools'. Indeed, calling her 'Jools' triggers an intense gush of orange Starbust candy flavour in his mouth, a sensation he prefers to avoid when speaking to his doctor. What's wrong with Patient X? Nothing, actually; he's affected by a neurological condition called synesthesia.

In synesthesia, visual colour information merges with other senses. This condition, and colour perception in general, were the topics of the Colour My World Neuroscience Encounter I saw last May at InSpace.
The Encounters are a lecture series put on by InSpace and Edinburgh Neuroscience. This series explores topics related to informatics and neuroscience. InSpace itself is a public engagement research laboratory resulting from a research partnership between the School of Informatics and New Media Scotland.  Read more »

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