July 13, 2024

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

On the news this week: Portion size guide; first ever photos of a black hole; and smartphone app for diagnosing rare genetic disorders.

First up, nutritionists in the UK have launched a new portion size guide to tackle over-eating and obesity. The British Nutrition Foundation’s guide is designed to complement the government advice on the sorts of foods to eat, spelling out just how much of each sort of food constitutes a healthy diet for both men and women. For example, two handfuls of pasta, a bunch of spaghetti the thickness of a one pound coin, two thumbs of cheese, and a fist-full of broccoli constitutes a healthy dinner.


Next, scientists claim to have captured the first ever images of two black holes, including Sagittarius A* – the black hole at the centre of our galaxy. So far, black holes have been impossible to observe because they are so compact that a telescope the size of the Earth is needed to see one. This problem was solved by creating a virtual telescope, which links telescopes from all over the Earth. Scientists hope that the iconic images captured will be released later this year.


Finally, a new AI-powered smartphone app has proven it can identify rare genetic disorders more effectively than clinicians. Currently these conditions are difficult to diagnose because clinicians don’t see them that often. Called Face2Gene, the app’s algorithm has learned the signs of genetic disorders from over 17,000 images of faces. But despite Face2Gene’s success it still has a long way to go to being 100% accurate, especially when diagnosing people from non-Caucasian ethnic backgrounds. The developers are now working towards improving this and hope it will become a quicker, easier way of diagnosing rare genetic diseases.

This week’s news was presented by Madeleine Openshaw, Gina Degtyareva, and Dani Ellenby, who are studying for a MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College London.

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