Changing ourselves

From hammerstones to biotechnology: Lizzie Norris looks at the engineering that has helped us to increase our lifespan and improve our quality of life.

Event of the week: A Night with Venus – A Lifetime on Mercury

As part of our new science events listing, we pick an event coming up this week. Valentine’s Day at the The Old Operating Theatre Museum is looking at some of the consequences of love in the 18th Century.

Marburg & Ebola Viruses Old and New

Hans-Dieter Klenk was born in 1938 in Cologne, Germany. From 1985 to 2007 he was Professor of Virology and Head of the Department of Virology of the University of Marburg where he is now Professor emeritus. His research has focused on the structure and function of enveloped viruses (influenza viruses, paramyxoviruses, filoviruses) with special emphasis […]

Unfolding the truth about prions

Rapidly multiplying misfolded proteins undetected by the human immune system – Sophia Ho explains why prions are important in understanding diseases.

Eat Your Heart Out

A Bloody Mary: what more could you want one cold November afternoon? They’re deliciously equipped with tomato juice, a splash of Tabasco and vodka; but at St Bartholomew’s Pathology Museum there was a twist on the traditional mix. Bacon was delicately floated in the beverage to create the suitably named cocktail, Charred Remains. And that […]

The Badger Cull

The UK government has caused controversy in the farming, science and public communities by announcing that the proposed cull of badgers in the UK will be postponed until the summer of 2013. Badger numbers are estimated at between 250 – 300,000 and in 2011 alone 34,000 British cattle were killed due to the spread of […]

Poor risk communication is tree-mendously worrying

I was born in Ipswich, Suffolk, and although I couldn’t wait to leave the place when I headed off to University, I have since come to love it in its own way. While Ipswich itself is a fairly bland place, my memories of the countryside around the town are pretty idyllic. I spent my 18th […]

Fighting Superbugs: The Battle Continues

“The first death in relation to this outbreak occurred on the sixth of January. The second occurred on the thirteenth of January. And, as you may have heard on the news overnight or this morning, the third death occurred late yesterday evening.” Visibly shaken neonatal consultant Clifford Mayes made this statement at a press conference […]

Genetic modification of bacteria leads to new vaccine

A new type of vaccine for pneumonia based on genetically engineered bacteria has been developed, and may help in the fight against many other infectious diseases. The vaccine, which protects against a virulent form of the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae, works by introducing a modified form of the bacterium that produces less pneumolysin – a toxic […]

AIDS anniversary

On June 5th, 1981, the Center for Disease Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) published the first report of AIDS. Entitled ‘5 cases of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP)’, it included case studies of five previously healthy young men, all homosexuals, who had been treated for PCP, a lung condition normally seen only in severely […]

The Subtle Parasite

It’s the start of a warm summer’s day in London, and a young man gets into his car to drive to work. Amongst the bustle of traffic, a pedestrian runs onto the road – the young man sees this, but does not react fast enough. The car swerves, bumps into the pavement, and he wakes […]

Bug-munching bacteria

Predatory bacteria with a taste for Salmonella look to be a promising alternative to antibiotics. Research conducted by a team of scientists at the University of Nottingham found that the not-so-friendly bacterium, Bdellovibrio, consumed the harmful Salmonella in the guts of chickens, significantly reducing the infection. Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus is known to prey upon pathogens such […]

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 […]

Science Behind the Photo #16

One of the IPCC’s key predictions for climate change in Europe is that we will experience, on average, milder winters. One of the problems warmer winters could cause is a significant rise in tick population numbers. Whilst this isn’t a problem we tend to hear too much about here in the UK, the prospect of […]

Attack of the killer white blood cells

Forget werewolves, vampires and George Osbornes. The scariest thing in the world isn’t out there waiting to get you, it’s inside you. It’s always ready – ready to pounce on its unsuspecting victims, to eat them in a single bite. Thankfully this monster is on our side – the humble white blood cell. The video […]

New flu treatment increases immune response

April is not really the correct time of year for the sun to have his hat on with such conviction. Regardless of the month, when the sun does come out to play London seems to transform. People make eye contact with you, smile, laugh openly in the streets, hug strangers and take everything at a […]

A bug’s life is better with company

Parasites are amazing.  By taking advantage of the efforts of another species, parasites have been able to flourish in countless strange ways. For example, there is one parasite that lives only on the lips of lobsters (Symbion americanus). The fungal parasite, Ophiocordyceps unilateralis infects the brains of ants, causing them to climb high into the forest canopy, […]