Nobel-prize winning biologist and pre-eminent stem cell scientist John Gurdon may not have had the best start to his career according to his school report, but for many more of today’s scientists their curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge started in the classroom.
The Institute of Physics report last week on the lack of girls progressing on to study physics at A-level continues to cause concern but is not surprising. Of course we need more positive female role models in the sciences and physics in particular and of course the media need to give more exposure to those that do exist.
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Let’s face it: there is wonderful chemistry in everything that surrounds us. Chemistry is behind simple things from colourful clothes, makeup and other beauty products to delicious fresh food and drink. Never believe the labels that say “chemical free” – it’s impossible.
Anyone who tells children that God – literally – created the world in seven days 6,000 years ago is guilty of perverting education.
The ability of certain pathogens, such as those which cause malaria, influenza and HIV, to disguise themselves and evade host immunity poses an enormous challenge to developing vaccines against these important diseases. Just what do these bugs have in their wardrobes that enables them to keep outwitting us? Can we find a way to use this knowledge against them?
The flush of flowering of poppies in a field makes the point very visually – the control of flowering time is a tightly regulated process. All the poppies choose to flower within a day or two of each other, having individually integrated a range of environmental and endogenous signals over many months.
Understanding how males and females in animals in general differ at the genetic level helps us understand human sex differences.
Given recent press coverage, you might be forgiven for thinking that all physicists were interested in was the Higgs Boson. But our research fields extend much further than the ultra-small particles under study at Geneva in the Large Hadron Collider or, at the other extreme, the enormous distances of remote galaxies and stars studied by astrophysicists.
For those of you who have watched James Cameron’s Avatar, if you cast your mind back you might remember that in this film a well-informed fantastical ecology was created, with many of its constituent animals and plants showing utterly alien traits, such as six-legged elephant-horses, and bizarre iridescent blue plants.
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