Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The story of Henrietta Lacks, the African American woman whose cancer cells gave rise to the famous HeLa cellline is not a story about the glories of medicine; it is instead about racism, science and the price of poverty. HeLa cells are the most commonly used cell lines in medical research. They orginally came from […]

Buzz Off: Are Bees the Answer to the Elephant Wars?

“I studied Zoology.” “Oh right, the study of zoos.” “Not exactly.” Zoology is the study of ANIMALS and it’s one of those science disciplines that rarely gets the reaction that chemistry or physics have come to expect. The response is normally one of confusion – why would anyone want to study something that has no […]

Podcast: Radio Package 1: Healing Poetry?

In the first of our radio packages I take a closer look at the claim that poetry can be therapeutic. Many famous poets have been through mental illness. One poet who wrote extensively about his experiences was John Clare, England’s greatest nature poet. He even believed that poetry could be healing. But you don’t have to […]

Manned Shuttles – A Waste of Space?

On Friday the shuttle Atlantis will lift off on its final voyage, when it returns it will mean the end of NASA’s iconic space shuttle programme. The shuttle’s retirement also signals the beginning of an uncertain time for human space missions. Funding cuts and plan cancellations mean that there is currently no replacement for NASA’s manned […]

Safe Serengeti?

There will not be a highway through the Serengeti according to the government of Tanzania last Wednesday. But if that’s the case why aren’t all the conservationists celebrating the victory? The reason is because no-one seems to be entirely sure about what the government have conceded. The plan to build a motorway straight through the […]

Highway across the Serengeti

Tanzania’s plan to build a $480 million road through the Serengeti has been condemned by the world. Last week Johnnie Carson, US diplomat, told reporters he had already expressed concerns to the Tanzanian government over the road in April. The US is added to the list of countries against the road. The plan however is […]

E.coli Outbreak: How Epidemiology Saved the Day

Last week scientists solved the puzzle of the recent E.coli outbreak not by high-tech molecular techniques but by plain old interviewing. The deadly bean sprouts were finally identified by a task force conducting interviews. They talked to all the people who had been infected and discovered that those who had eaten bean sprouts were nine […]

Breast Cancer Relapse – Can we minimise the risk?

“Waiting those 14 hours was the most terrible experience of my life” says Parastou Khiaban. “When we saw her coming out of intensive care, that image will haunt me for the rest of my life.” Parastou’s mother was treated for breast cancer in 2009. The operation took fourteen hours. Complications left her in intensive care […]

Can animals dream?

Most animals need sleep. Even C. elegans, the nematode worm, has sleep-like states and it is one of the simplest organisms that exists with a nervous system. Sleep comes in many guises, in invertebrates like the cockroach; it can be as simple as folding down your antennae, adopting your favourite posture and decreasing your sensitivity […]

The Perils of Sexual Imprinting

The zoo needs a psychiatrist, someone is having an identity crisis and it’s not one of the keepers. It is a chicken called Claudio. Suspend your disbelief for a moment; there is a chicken in the zoo that thinks it’s a sheep. Not just any sheep, a Somali Sheep. Chicks have 13-16 hours to imprint […]