Seahorses: Riding on Myths

Chyi Chung reports on the mysterious and misunderstood seahorse.

Poseidon, god of the sea, rides upon his chariot of hippocampi, fantastical creatures that possess the head and torso of a horse but the belly and tail of a fish. Their name mirrors their physique: a portmanteau of horse (hippos) and sea monster (campus) in Ancient Greek. Aptly so, hippocampus has been adopted as the genus of their real-life inspiration. Continue reading “Seahorses: Riding on Myths”

Return of the Leeches

Philippa Jefferies draws out the truth behind the leech’s comeback in modern medicine.

Usually, when someone mentions leeches and bloodletting, images of medieval physicians forcing leeches on their patients for any ailment are the first to jump to mind. Whilst it is common knowledge now that this is probably not the best way to relieve every symptom, leeches aren’t without their uses in modern medicine. In 2004, the FDA approved the sale of leeches for medical use in the USA and they are vital in many surgeries – particularly skin grafts and reconstructive surgery.
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Chemtrails: Is the Government Trying to Poison Us?

Bethany Rothwell takes to the sky and assesses the supposed impact of jet plane ‘chemtrails’.

It’s a gorgeous sunny day. You hear a plane passing overhead, look up at the sky and what do you think about? The pretty patterns of white streaking across the blue sky? Plans for your next summer holiday? Or the government’s ruse to shower us with psychologically-manipulating or weather-modifying chemical agents?
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Are Pennies Deadly if Dropped from a Skyscraper?

Stephen Ashlee dispells a common misconception and alerts us to the danger of killer pens.

Money falling from the sky seems like everyone’s dream doesn’t it? But I bet opinions would change if it started falling in coins and not notes. It is a fairly popular notion that if someone were to drop a single penny off the very top of the Empire State Building, it would gain enough speed that it could kill someone at the base. But is there any truth to it? If the sky spontaneously started raining pennies, would they be deadly?
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MSG: The Facts

Monosodium glutamate (or MSG as it is more commonly known) has long been slated as a dangerous food additive, having been speculated to cause the famous nausea and headache-inducing ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’ that some individuals suffer after eating Chinese food. But, is MSG really as bad as it’s been made out to be?
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The 10% brain capacity myth: separating logic from the popular culture phenomenon

Anna Pitts addresses the pervasive cognitive conundrum head on.

It is a well-known opinion that humans only have access to around 10 percent of their true brain capacity, according to the popular media and urban legend. This idea has had a resurgence of interest in the past few years with the popularity of films such as “Limitless” in 2011 and “Lucy” in 2014. “Limitless” is based on the premise that if science was advanced enough, there could be a nootropic (cognitive enhancing) pill that opens up your brain capacity over the normal level (in this case they cite 20%) for humans.
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The Father of Molecular Machinery: An Evening with Professor Sir J. Fraser Stoddart

An Interview with Professor Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, Joanna Chustecki and Mel Jack with thanks to the EPS Community and Alumni Relations Office.

A cold autumnal night on campus and something incredible is happening in the Haworth building. Hundreds of students, postgrads, old friends, colleagues and members of the public have flocked to this well-established house of chemistry to hear one of the greatest chemists of our time talk. Professor Sir J. Fraser Stoddart to be exact. Within this huge crowd bustling to access the main lecture theatre stands a man who has published over 1,000 scientific papers, is one of the most cited chemists in the world, and has, on the 5th of October 2016, been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry ‘for the design and synthesis of molecular machines’.
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Is ‘Crazy Cat Lady’ A Realistic Fear?

Cat Collins ponders how suicidal attraction theory in rats and cats may lead to schizophrenia, personality changes and car accidents.

Nobody likes to feel like a puppet. The idea of freewill is something that is inherently connected to human nature, so the conflicting suggestion that human behaviour may be due to a number of parasites controlling your brain may disturb some. A rather extreme example of this in the animal world exists through the Lancet liver fluke, a parasite so desperate to access cattle liver it enslaves an ant, forcing it to climb blades of grass and be eaten. Many would like to believe that this is different for humans – human brains are incredibly complicated and could resist the mechanisms of a lowly parasite. Or can they?
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Analogue Memory Recording: Turn Your DNA Into a Hard Drive

Zidan Yang uses the latest advances in genome editing to unlock the secret memories of our cells.

Memory formation and storage, a notorious conundrum that human beings have been striving to understand for hundreds of years and still there is no definition universally accepted. Yet modern scientists embark on analysing memory at a digital and quantitative level. In the summer of 2016, biological engineers from MIT successfully devised an analogue memory storage machinery, which to some extent can shed new light on the interpretation of memory.
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