Lucky dip

EUSci now has a fairly extensive archive of fascinating articles- use this page to show you a random selection.

Musical fungus play sold-out show

A mushroom performed live jazz improv to a packed house last night at Inspace.  “The Sounds of Spores Spectacular” was the highlight of this week’s Sounds of Spores installation, created by Edinburgh’s Yann Seznec and Patrick Hickey. Accompanying the mushroom was human jazz trio The Dyad, who improvised along with the sounds from the fungus. Read more »

The importance of being NICE

The UK's National Health Service (NHS) is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the world. It mediates, manages and procures healthcare from diagnosis, through prognosis to cure. However, it is an unfortunate reality that the NHS only has limited, in fact diminishing, resources at its disposal. The unenviable role of allocating these scarce resources equitably has been delegated to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, or NICE, which makes decisions concerning which drugs to invest in, what diagnostic tests to perform, and which patients to prioritize for treatment. This article attempts to review the processes employed in making such decisions, from quantifying the value of a year of life to striking deals with drug manufacturers to offset negative outcomes. It will also consider how and why controversies arise. 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 »

Damascus Steel in the Battle against Cancer

In 1187, a vast Arabian army lead by the legendary Kurdish general Saladin annihilated a large Crusader army, including a battalion of well-armoured knights, at an infamous battle known as the “Horns of Hattin”. When battle ceased, over 15,000 Crusaders lay dead with only a handful of casualties on Saladin’s side. The secret to Saladin’s stunning victory? Nanotechnology. Saladin’s army was equipped with blades forged from ‘Damascus Steel’. These blades were renowned across the world for their mythical strength and sharpness, and were stronger than even the toughest of European armour.

Only in the last few years have the secrets of the famed ‘Damascus Steel’ been revealed. Crystallography studies have shown that nanowires and carbon nanotubes were incorporated into the structure of the metal during the forging process, giving it its strength. It seems that 800 years ago, albeit unwittingly, Arabian swordsmiths had taken the first steps into the world of nanotechnology. Read more »

Trying to do a maxi-prep in a chaotic lab

Bench science is a frustrating beast; things that seem ever so simple can often take all day. Because labs are such large communal spaces, there’s a lot of equipment and chemicals that are shared. As there’s no official ‘lab admin’ to clean up and order new things, it’s everybody’s responsibility to take care of these things, but the problem is, very often they don’t. A worst-case scenario can be exemplified doing a maxi-prep, used to get DNA samples out of bacteria.

Maxi-preps are not fun. I have to culture a ton of bacteria and spend all day pipetting and centrifuging and pipetting and centrifuging again. All I get out of it is a piddling little tube of DNA. Add in the fact that everybody around me has forgotten to do all those little tidying-up jobs around the lab and I’m having a really crap day. Read more »