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Volume 5 Issue 12 Jul-Dec 2012

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Have you enjoyed reading Young Scientists Journal?
Read on for some ideas about how to get involved!
First of all, who are these “Young Scientists”?
They are…YOU!
All our articles are written by – and, perhaps even more unusually, EDITED - by young people aged 12-20.
The journal was founded in 2006 by a group of students at The King’s School, Canterbury but now we
have authors and editors from high schools all over the world, communicating across the globe by email,
Skype,Facebook, etc. The team is managed by the Chief Editor, a student usually in her/his last year at
high school.
It is the only peer review science journal for this age group, the perfect journal for aspiring scientists like
you to publish research.

What if I’d like to write something for the journal?
Perhaps you’ve done a science project, coursework, holiday placement, competition or presentation in
science which made you proud?
It is easy to submit your contribution by uploading it online at and we can accept
submissions in a variety of different forms, including pictures, videos and presentations.
We are also keen to receive shorter, review articles, and also other material such as news items,
competitions, videos or cartoons for the website.

Can I help to run Young Scientists?
Yes! We love to hear from students aged 12-20 who would like to join our team, editing articles,
managing the website, graphic designing, helping with publicity.
You gain unique experience of working on an open-access, peer-reviewed, ISSN-referenced journal
while still at school, learning editing and journalism skills which will impress any university.
Send an email to our Chief Editor, Fiona Jenkinson:
or find out more by visiting the Young Scientists Facebook page.
And if you are a scientist, science communicator or teacher and would like to know more about how to
support the work of the journal, please contact Christina Astin, at

Young Scientists Journal
This magazine web-based Young Scientists J ournal is online journal open access journal ( It has been
in existence since J une 06 and contains articles written by young scientists for young scientists. It is where young scientists
get their research and review articles published.
Published by
B5-12, Kanara Business Center, Off Link Road,
Ghatkopar (E), Mumbai - 400075, INDIA.
Phone: 91-22-6649 1818
Editorial Board
Chief Editor: Cleodie Swire, UK
Editorial Team Members Emma Copland, UK
Team Leader: Fiona Jenkinson, UK Rachel Wyles, UK
Chris Cundy, UK Arthur Harris, UK
Louis Wilson, UK Niyi Adenuga, Nigeria
Louis Sharrock, UK Jake Shepherd-Barron, UK
David Hewett, UK Harriet Dunn, UK
Fiona Paterson, UK Gilbert Chng, Singapore
Mei Yin Wong, Singapore Maria Jose Tamayo, Peru
Alex Lancaster, UK Hannah Morrison, UK
Matthew Brady, UK Anne de Vitry d'Avaucourt, France
Ben Lawrence, UK Kiran Thapa, UK
Tim Wood, UK Muna Oli, USA
Robert Aylward, UK Maddy Parker, UK
Chloe Forsyth, UK Technical Team
Savannah Lordis, UK Team Leader: Jacob Hamblin-Pyke, UK
Emily Thompsett, UK Mark Orders, UK
Natalie Cooper-Rayner, UK
Young Advisory Board
Steven Chambers, UK Malcolm Morgan, UK
Tobias Nørbo, Denmark Arjen Dijksman, France
Lorna Quandt, USA Joanna Buckley, UK
Jonathan Rogers, UK Lara Compston-Garnett, UK
Otana Jakpor, USA Pamela Barraza Flores, Mexico
Muna Oli, USA
International Advisory Board
Team Leader: Christina Astin, UK
Ghazwan Butrous, UK Anna Grigoryan, USA/Armenia
Thijs Kouwenhoven, China Don Eliseo Lucero-Prisno III, UK
Paul Soderberg, USA Lee Riley, USA
Corky Valenti, USA Vince Bennett, USA
Mike Bennett, USA Tony Grady, USA
Ian Yorston, UK Charlie Barclay, UK
Joanne Manaster, USA Andreia Alvarez Soares, UK
Alom Shaha, UK Armen Soghoyan, Armenia
Mark Orders, UK Linda Crouch, UK
Anthony Hardwicke, UK John Boswell, USA
Sam Morris, UK Debbie Nsefik, UK
Baroness Susan Greenfield, UK Prof. Clive Coen, UK
Sir Harry Kroto, UK
Volume 5 | Issue 12 | Jul - Dec 2012
Volume 5 | Issue 12 | Jul - Dec 2012
Young Scientists Journal
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Published by
B5-12, Kanara Business Center,
Off Link Rd, Ghatkopar (E),
Mumbai - 400075, INDIA.
Phone: 91-22-6649 1818
Cleodie Swire .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .49
Photography Competition
Young scientists journal photography competition 2012
Fiona Jenkinson .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .50
Interview with Professor Dr. Hamilton Othanel Smith
Louis Wilson .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .55
Prize for molecule research
Chloé Forsyth .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .57
Review Articles
To what extent can animals aid earthquake prediction?
Claire Harnett .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .60
The ineffciency of sewage processing for oestrogen removal
Nicola King . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .66
The evolution of atomic theory
Allen Zheng .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .74
Should we promote the widespread consumption of biotech foods?
Karen Wang .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .77
Evolution of drug resistance in bacteria
Jake Shepherd-Barron . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .80
The truth behind animal testing
Shany Sun .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .83
Original Research
Bringing back Betzuca Torrentto life: The bird cages project
Eva Crespo, Neus Figols, Anna Junyent, Elena Dibarboure, Katherine Morel,
Marta Díaz, Mar Fernández, Marta Sabaté, Sallatyel Carvalho, Albert Soto .. .. .. .. .86
The effect of light intensity on the stomatal density of lavender,
Lavandula angustifolia
Yoana Petrova .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .89
Addendum 59
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 49
The Young Scientists Journal is proud to present Issue 12. It features articles on some of the most debated
areas of science – genetically modified crops, animal testing, and drug resistance in bacteria – as well as
some on topics that you may not know much about, such as proposed methods for lowering the levels of
oestrogen in our water supply. I hope that you find this issue informative, interesting, and inspiring. On my
last point, we are always looking to receive articles from budding young scientists between the ages of 12
and 20 who would like to see their own work in print.
Following on from the interview with Sir Harold Kroto, published in Issue 11, this issue contains two more
interviews with Nobel Prize-winning scientists. The first is with Hamilton Smith, one of the discoverers of
restriction enzymes, and the second is with Jean-Marie Pierre Lehn, who was rewarded for his work on
the development of cryptates. Allen Zheng’s article on the development of the atomic theory continues the
Nobel theme as some of the most famous winners of the Physics prize (Thomson, Bohr, Schrödinger, and
Heisenberg) were instrumental to advancements in this field.
An area that has seen progression in recent years thanks to our greater understanding of DNA is biotechnology.
Karen Wang’s article probes the idea of genetically modified food, which can present the advantages of being
more nutritious, delivering vaccinations, and even disease resistance. The concerns about this technology
include those about risk to human health and the possibility of genes spreading, allowing ‘super weeds’ to
develop. This phenomenon, in bacteria, is posing one of the biggest challenges to healthcare; our supply
of antibiotics for which there are no strains of resistant bacteria is diminishing. The article ‘Evolution of drug
resistance in bacteria’ explains how these varieties have increased in prevalence.
The modern pathway in the development of new drugs often involves testing on animals, which has proved to
be a controversial practice. Shany Sun explains why she believes that it is worthwhile, as without it challenges
such as the antibiotic deficiency, cancer, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) would be
overcome at a much slower rate. Another potential avenue for the employment of animals is in earthquake
forecasting. Claire Hartnett presents case studies, theories, and quotes from specialists that she procured
during her investigations in this well-researched piece.
Our first research article in this issue is a report on fieldwork that a group of Spanish volunteers undertook
to help protect their local wildlife. Their tale about an unexpected find shows that investigative science is a
possibility for every caliber of scientist. The other paper contains full details about an experiment studying
how the density of the stomata on lavender leaves varies under different light intensities.
Finally, this issue is my last as the Chief Editor. Fiona Jenkinson shall fill my role while Chloé Forsyth replaces
her as the Head of the Editorial Team. Fiona’s work alongside me over the past year gives me confidence
that she will take to the post with aplomb, and I look forward to seeing what they both will bring to the journal.
I would like to thank all of the authors, editors, and members of the International Advisory Board (IAB) who
have helped make my time working on the journal both rewarding and thoroughly enjoyable.
Cleodie Swire
Chief Editor
DOI: ****
50 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
This year, the journal decided to run a photography
competition from 1
February to 1
May in order to
introduce a new form through which science can be
communicated to the journal. We invited students
aged 18 and under to take photos using any
camera, phone, or other device to compete for prizes
according to their age group, related to a scientific
theme. These included: The general theme of ‘Energy’
open to all those aged 18 and under, ‘Camouflage’
open to those aged 12 and under, ‘Science behind
the Olympics’ for those aged 12–15 years, and ‘The
Result of Science’ for those aged between 16 and
18. The photos were submitted via our website along
with an abstract to explain the photo.
The panel of judges, whom I would like to thank for
giving their time and effort, consisted of: Christina
Astin (chair IAB of Young Scientists Journal and
Head of Science at the King’s School Canterbury),
Ajay Sharman (regional director of STEMNET),
Duncan Armour (Science teacher at Simon Langton
Boy’s Grammar school and photographer), Ian
Wallace (Head of Photography at the King’s School
Canterbury), and myself. The photos were both
marked and discussed anomalously by the panel
of judges according to the following criteria: Image
Aesthetics/Artistic qualities, scientific relevance/
explanation, Photograph Quality and Concept
Originality. It was based on these criteria that the
panel decided first place, runner-up, and those highly
commended for each theme – although in many
cases it was very close.
Young scientists journal
photography competition 2012
Photography Competition
Fi ona Jenk i nson
The King’s School Canterbury, UK. E-mail:
DOI: ****
I am glad to announce that we received a total of 53
entries. Although the majority of submissions were
from all over England and the USA, there were others
from countries including Malaysia, India, Bali, and
Latvia. We hope to see this list increase in length
next year!
As can be seen from the graph below, the majority
of entries were for the ‘Energy’ theme which, as well
as being open to any age group, had the highest
prize money. The other, age-restricted categories
received a lot less entries although standards
remained high. The range of ages of entrants is
also shown below and perhaps with some of the
most successful images coming from younger
photographers, we would like to encourage more
to enter our 2013 competition.
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 51
It is now with pleasure that we present the winners
of each category. Both winners and runners-up
received a sum of money in the form of Amazon
Title: Neon Beams Photographer: Emma Dyson
Theme: Energy School: St Paul’s Girls School, England
Award: Winner Age: 13
Inspired by electricity, Emma wanted to find a way
to photograph this form of energy since it is hard
to view. Having been captivated by the plasma ball
in the science classroom when she was younger,
she became interested in the vibrant currents of
electricity being transmitted from the electromagnet
through the neon gas. Her mother, a science
teacher, has one of these plasma balls and this
photograph is the result!
Emma explained, “A plasma ball works by the
electromagnet in the middle of the glass bulb
sending high voltage currents through the gas
(which could be neon or a mixture of other noble
gases). These gases, when an alternating current
is passed through them, create vivid colours. The
reason that it works when a hand is placed on the
glass ball is, because a circuit is effectively created
through the person, while he or she feels a slight
electric shock. However, on smaller voltage bulbs
you are unable to feel this shock.”
Title: Hidden Frog Photographer: Jessica Bennett
Theme: Camouflage School: Forest Lakes Elementary, USA
Award: Winner Age: 11
Jessica took this picture of a Cuban tree frog after
finding it and remarking at how difficult it was to see,
being the same colour as the sediment surrounding it.
She explained how the Cuban tree frog could do this.
“[This frog species] can change a variety of colours
including shades of green, black, brown and white.
They have three different kinds of chromatophores,
one that cases brown and black, one iridescent,
and one yellow. Although some will have different
colours like blue and red depending on whether they
are poisonous or not and where they live. To change
colour they move either the pigments or the reflective
plates in these chromatophores. The colours are
not usually based on the background, but they do it
because of the amount of light, how they are feeling,
and the temperature. Some will even turn white when
they are hot and black when they are cold.”
52 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
Title: Mystical Rings Photographer: Abegael Tomlin
Theme: Science behind
the Olympics
School: Homewood school and
sixth form centre, England
Award: Winner Age: 15
“The inspiration behind this picture was trying to capture
the visual essence of energy as well as linking into the
2012 Olympic Games. I used a slow shutter speed on
tripod, which enabled me to photograph the light over
a certain amount of time and get it in the right position
to show you what it actually is – the Olympic Rings. I
used the deep velvety darkness of the background
to enhance the brightness of the rings, which have
an almost magical quality to them as they appear to
be burning brightly like an eternal fire ball giving us
a glimpse into the power and golden beauty of an
energy that we either take for granted or never have the
opportunity to fully appreciate its visual impact. I took
this picture in the dark-room at school using an ordinary
torch that was used to create this piece showing that
sometimes, the ordinary can become extraordinary.”
Title: Fireballs Photographer: Gilda Rastegar
Theme: The Result of Science School: Lakeside School, USA
Award: Winner Age: 16
“This photo demonstrates the physics of how cameras
capture light. Like humans who can only see a portion
of the electromagnetic spectrum, cameras can only
capture visible light. The quantum theory states that
light is emitted from small bundles of particles called
photons. In this photo, my camera captured a stream
of photons coming from Christmas lights. I set the
shutter for a one second exposure so that I could record
the path of my camera’s movement. I focused on my
subject, and quickly zoomed out. Since my camera
moved slightly during the zooming process, the zoomed
path is not perfectly linear. Due to the long exposure,
all the little Christmas lights look as though they are
connected in long strings. The charge coupled device
(CCD) sensor in my camera detected the collisions of
photons. All of the points of lights hit one point, and
since I moved my camera, the points of light made a
path, creating a cumulative effect. When I moved my
camera, the place the photons first hit was recorded
and continued to add on the other registered places.
As each photon hit an area on the sensor, there was
more cumulative light.
There was no editing done to this photo. When taking
this image, I hoped to show what one can do with a
source of light and the science behind how a camera
captures the image.”
Title: Into The Sun Photographer: Crystal Ng Pei Qi
Theme: Energy School: SMK Aminuddin Baki
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Award: Runner-Up Age: 16
“Solar energy is energy that is present in sunlight.
It has been used for thousands of years in many
different ways by people all over the world. As well
as its traditional human uses in heating, cooking
and drying, it is used today to make electricity
where other power supplies are absent, such as in
remote places and in space. It is becoming cheaper
to make electricity from solar energy and in many
situations it is now competitive with energy from coal
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 53
or oil. Since ancient times, the sun has given earth
life by emanating light and heat to empower life on
earth. This image of the sun’s rays has been given
a minimalist theme with very few other elements in
the picture to isolate the sheer magnificence of the
sun’s rays. Also included within the composition
are pylons carrying electrical energy, also a form of
energy generated by the sun’s own energy.”
Title: Lizard Hiding on A
Photographer: Jemima Kingdon
Theme: Camouflage School: Hazelwood, England
Award: Runner-Up Age: 10
“I was recently on holiday at Bushmans Kloof, a
game reserve in South Africa and was on a safari
trip looking at wild animals and ancient rock art. I
spotted the lizard near one of the rock paintings and
took this great picture.
The lizard has a skin colour and texture nearly the
same as the rocks so it is very hard to see, if it closed
its eye it would be nearly invisible. You can normally
only spot lizards when they are moving as most of
the time they sit very still. The lizard likes to be on the
rocks as it hides it from predators but can get warm
from the heat of the rocks. The lizard is cold blooded
so needs heat to warm it up.”
Title: Minimizing Drag Photographer: Jackson Algiers
Theme: Science behind
the Olympics
School: Mcgill-Toolen Catholic
High School, USA
Award: Runner-Up Age: 15
Starting from the age of 5, swimming is Jackson’s
favourite sport. He decided to take a picture of a
swimmer in the water in the streamline position as the
reason swimmers are told to do this is to minimize
drag. This is particularly relevant in an Olympic event.
Jackson explained “In the picture, the swimmer
has pushed off of the wall and is gliding through
the water. She is not very efficient. A person looses
91 percent of their energy in the water through
drag. The equation, R= ½ DpAv
is used in order
to find the drag or resistance. R is resistance, D is
the constant for the viscosity of the fluid, p is the
density of the fluid, A is the surface area of the body
travelling through the fluid, and v is the velocity of
the travelling body. A swimmer can minimize their
drag by tightening up and making the shape of a
torpedo. They do this by putting one hand over
the other with their arms above their head. They
squeeze their ears with their biceps and keep their
legs straight with their toes pointed. In swimming
terminology, this is known as the ‘streamline
position.’ It is assumed at the start and after each
turn while swimming.”
Title: BLUE 293t Photographer: Elizabeth Ham
Theme: The Result of
School: The King’s School
Canterbury, England
Award: Runner-Up Age: 17
“I took this photograph this Easter while interning in
a stem cell research lab at The Children’s Hospital
Boston. Over the course of the time I was there I grew
my own 293t cells to use for artistic purposes. The
293t cells originated as human embryonic kidney
cells, and had been transferred by gene mutation to
54 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
cancer cells so they could be propagated in culture
quickly by cancer growth. I used a program on the
computer called Leica DFC300 FX, which connects
the cells under a microscope to the computer where
you can take snapshots of them. The cells shown are
blue because I used a florescent nucleic dye called
DAPI (4′, 6–diamino–2–phenylindole), which stains
the nuclei of the cells being photographed blue. For
this reason the photograph is made up of the cell’s
nuclei only.
I think this photograph represents the result of science
because in an abstract way the photograph can
represent a section of the planet Earth. The darker
region in the bottom right corner is the 96 well plate
where the cells grew. In my opinion the shape of this
area represents the curvature of the Earth, the cell
groupings represent areas of land, and the blank areas
are oceans. For this reason the photograph looks like
a section of the world itself, and the photograph shows
how the results of science are universal.”
Below is a list of those whose photos won, came runner-up and were highly commended:
Category Winner Runner-up Highly commended
(open to anyone aged 18
and under)
Neon Beams
Emma Dyson
Into The Sun
Crystal Ng Pei Qi
Birds and a Wind Turbine at Sunset, Michael Hofmann
Hot Air Balloon, Eleanor Powell
The Unique Purple of Chemistry, Gwen Lam
Sun Halo, Kiran Thapa
Lightning at Night, Stephen Smith
Light from a Gherkin, Adam Shortall
Water droplet, Kyle Meadows
Dancing light, Emilie de Bree
Flower power, Lauren Farrow
(under 12)
Hidden Frog
Jessica Bennet
Lizard Hiding on a Rock
Jemima Kingdon Jones
Chameleon Seahorse, Emily Phang
The Preyer, Jonah Linquist
Science behind the
Mystcal Rings
Abegael Tomlin
Minimizing Drag
Jackson Algiers
The torch, Ryan McDougald
Happy cyclist, Eleanor Bennet
Hanging Matng, Gust Ngurah Prana Jagannatha
The result of Science
Gilda Rastegar
Blue 293t
Elizabeth Ham
Power Staton, Eleanor Powell
Light Show, Sarah Cannavino
The other photographs from the competition are shown on the back cover of this magazine and can also
be seen on our website. If you think you could be in with a chance to win up to £150, then do not miss next
year’s photography competition!
About the Author
Fiona Jenkinson, Editorial Team Leader, is 17 years old and goes to The King's School Canterbury where she is currently
studying for her A Levels. She is studying Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Further Maths and has already taken as French.
In her free time she enjoys art, music, photography and reading. She wants to study Natural Sciences at University.
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 55
Dr. Smith, thank you very much for joining
us today. Can I ask you what your interests
in science are and what you were awarded a
Nobel Prize for?
Prof. Dr. Smith: I have had several interests over the
years. I started out as a microbial geneticist studying
the transformation of bacteria and that work is what
led to the Nobel Prize. By chance, I discovered an
activity in a bacterium called Haemophilus influenzae
[Figure 1], where extracts of the bacteria could
cleave foreign DNA without cleaving the cell’s own
DNA. In other words, here was an enzyme that could
recognise DNA that was from another source – and
that fitted the description of “restriction enzyme”
that Werner Arber had postulated. So, I went ahead
immediately to try to purify that enzyme, and in about
2 years, I had worked it out and published the data.
The interesting phrase you used there was ‘by
chance’, which reflects Louis Pasteur’s idea
that “chance favours the prepared mind”. Do
you think that’s a correct statement?
Prof. Dr. Smith: It is a correct statement. In this case,
because I knew about the postulated existence of
these enzymes, and we made the chance observation
that extracts could cleave foreign DNA, [we] assumed
immediately that it was a restriction enzyme.
How old were you when you considered that
you had started your scientific career?
Prof. Dr. Smith: My father bought me a chemistry set
when I was 5 years old, and I enjoyed mixing things,
seeing different colours precipitated, burning sulphur
etc. From my earliest memory, I think that my interest
in both mathematics and science of any sort was
almost genetic.
Did you still enjoy doing science as a
Prof. Dr. Smith: Yes, every evening, I worked with my
brother – who was also in science – in a basement
laboratory that we had. We worked on all sorts of
things – electrical things, motors, Tesla coils, radios;
we had a fairly sophisticated collection of chemicals,
including concentrated acids and so on – we just
Interview with Professor
Dr. Hamilton Othanel Smith
Loui s Wi l son
Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys, Kent, England, E-mail:
Prof. Dr. Hamilton Smith was born in 1931 in New York. He studied at the University of
Illinois, eventually transferring to the University of California, where he received a Bachelor
of Arts in mathematics. Later, he studied at the Johns Hopkins University, receiving a
medical degree in 1956. In 1967, Prof. Dr Smith returned to Johns Hopkins as an assistant
professor of microbiology. It was there that in 1969, he made the discovery of Type II
restriction enzymes – enzymes that cut DNA at specific points and are now a vital tool in
modern genetics. He was subsequently awarded the Nobel Prize along with Prof. Werner
Arber and Prof. Daniel Nathans in 1978.
56 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
Did this sort of experience of carrying out
experiments without any sort of training affect
your scientific career?
Prof. Dr. Smith: Yes, I’ve always thought that I was a
natural in the laboratory, but it was because of that
early experience that I knew about experimentation.
Did you have a role model in science?
Prof. Dr. Smith: Well, surprisingly, it was the physicists
that were my role models – Einstein is a classic
example. It was only later on that I became interested
in biological research.
What did you particularly admire about
Prof. Dr. Smith: The thing that impressed me was the
fact that he didn’t benefit much from teachers; he
went his own way and didn’t really do well in school.
He developed all of his major theories just by thinking
and doing thought experiments and using deductive
power to build theories. I’ve always been in awe of
the theoreticians, even though I’m an experimentalist.
So now you are at the top of your career,
what is your advice to young people who are
interested in science, especially those who
haven’t entered university yet?
Prof. Dr. Smith: The most important thing is to follow
what you want to do yourself – don’t let somebody
direct you too much. If you enjoy working in a certain
area, and maybe have some insights into it that other
people don’t have, then pursue that line [Figure 2].
How exactly did you discover the restriction
Prof. Dr. Smith: The restriction enzyme discovery
was a eureka moment – we’d made an observation
in the lab that foreign DNA was being degraded by
the Haemophilus influenzae organism and it occurred
to us that it might possibly be one of the restriction
enzymes of the sort postulated by Werner Arber but
not yet isolated, so I went home that evening thinking
it was probably not true. However, we had a way to
it, so the next morning we set up to assay,
and within five minutes, the first point told us we had
the thing. It was a fantastic experience to know that
you had a new unusual activity, which, although I
didn’t know it, would be technologically valuable; it
was something new that I could purify and isolate. It
wasn’t in my grant, but we just pursued it! I think that
was the very pinnacle of my career.
Dr Smith, it’s been a pleasure to talk with you, thank
you very much for your time.
An assay is a procedure in molecular biology to evaluate the
activity of biochemicals in an organism.
Figure 1: An Image of Haemophilus infuenzae (available from htp://
Figure 2: A photograph of Hamilton Smith in 2011 (available from
About the Author
Louis Wilson was born on 29
October 1994, and is currently studying Biology, Chemistry, Physics, ‘Double’ Mathematics
and Russian. In addition to scientific pursuits, Louis enjoys classical music, and plays violin, piano and horn. He hopes
to become a geneticist later in life.
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 57
Interview with Nobel Prize winner
Jean-Marie Pierre Lehn
Jean-Marie Pierre Lehn [Figure 1] is a French chemist
who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1987 for
his synthesis of cation cryptates.
These are cage-
like molecules which have an internal cavity that is
capable of containing another molecule. He was the
innovator in the field of “supramolecular” chemistry
which is all about molecular recognition and how
molecules selectively bind together.
Despite being
at the forefront of this field, he looks back to the 1894
analogy of a lock and key to explain how molecules
selectively bind to one another because a key has
been designed to fit a certain lock in the same way
that certain molecules are specifically designed to
bind to one another.
His research also touched on the problems which
are linked with molecules binding together. This led
to the realisation that specific interactions are needed
for recognition between molecules; these interactions
are different to those which hold atoms together.
Atoms link together through what are known as
covalent bonds to make molecules, while molecules
bind together by non-covalent interactions.
has led to the discovery of the field of chemistry
known as “supramolecular” chemistry, the domain
which Lehn has worked in for 30 years which leads to
non-covalent bonds being manipulated for inducing
recognition processes.
Lehn believes that his science career began in
Prize for molecule research
Chl oé For syt h
Sir Roger Manwood’s School, Manwood Road, Sandwich, Kent. E-mail:
Jean-Marie Pierre Lehn is a French chemist born in 1939 in Rosheim. In 1957 he achieved a
baccalaureate in philosophy and experimental sciences before going on to the University
of Strasburg to study Physical, Chemical and Natural Sciences. Then, after obtaining his
bachelor degree in “Licencié ès sceinces” in 1960, he worked as a junior member of the
Centre National de la reserche scientifique at Ourissons lab to work towards his Ph.D.
Lehn obtained his degree of Docteur ès Sciences 3 years later and went to Robert Burn
Woodward’s lab, Harvard, for a year to work on the total synthesis of B12. In 1966 he
became an assistant professor at the Chemistry department of Strasburg University; it
was here that Lehn became interested in the nervous system and how chemistry could
contribute to him. While trying to find a component which could mimic the actions of
natural antibiotics in making membranes permeable to cations, Lehn designed the cation
cryptates. This led to the development of “supramolecular chemistry.” In 1970 Lehn became
a professor and spent time lecturing at both Strasburg and Harvard. He was awarded the
Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1987 for the development and use of molecules with structure-
specific interactions of high selectivity.
58 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
high school. Although, at first, he wanted to study
Philosophy at University, in the end, he found
that science was more interesting. He began with
biochemistry before settling on chemistry as what he
wanted to do with his life, because he liked the idea
that chemistry had the ability to transform matter.
He believes that science and philosophy are closely
linked; in fact science is more like philosophy than
the latter because in his eyes the idea of philosophy
is to acquire wisdom and that is what science does
[Figure 1].
When he began his career as a chemist, Lehn never
went looking for the celebrity status that he has
achieved among his peers, and it has certainly not
changed the way he lives his life. As for his own role
models, he goes back to his interest in philosophy
with the likes of Kant, Nietzsche and Freud. Lehn’s
interest in Freud comes from the way he tackled
what most people at the time thought of as taboo
subjects. This struck a chord with Lehn because
he disregards the idea that you can forbid the
accumulation of knowledge. To illustrate his point, he
uses the example of the creation story in Genesis as
he believes that Eve taking the apple from the tree of
knowledge was the first act of science as he believes
that when trying to acquire knowledge it is important
that scientists do not respect the boundaries set
down by those in authority.
Lehn believes that science has limitless possibilities
and any question can be challenged by science;
however, it is also important for scientists to first ask
whether or not now is a reasonable time to tackle the
question. Lehn takes the example of the question
“what is consciousness?” As while he personally
believes that it is a consequence of human nature and
the way our brain functions, this cannot be proven
by science right now.
Lehn has a firm belief that there are no official
scientists and this contributes to the comradely
nature of science, where, when a scientist publishes
any work; other scientists always try to critique
and check their findings. To do this they use three
criteria: is it observable, is it reproducible and is it
With his unquenchable desire for knowledge, Lehn
finds it incredible when people do not want to
understand science and how it shapes our world.
He found it even more incredulous when a French
Politician from the Green party refused to listen to a
scientific explanation from one of Lehn’s peers. He
believes that someone who people are going to vote
for should always try to understand the world around
them so that they can represent the people of their
nation to the best of their abilities.
While Lehn admits that there are some things which
are more enjoyable than science in his life – he enjoys
playing the piano and would have liked to be a pianist
– he enjoys his job so much that if he were reborn he
would still be a scientist because he believes that it
is the best way to develop the brain in a controlled
way. Science is a way of making sense of why we are
here – a question that people do not get the chance
to answer in everyday life. Science helps people to
have a rational approach to life and accept that when
you ask a question there are people out there who
know better, and we should accept that. Lehn uses
the example of having a referendum on genetically
modifying organisms; most of the population don’t
know anything about the science behind this type of
genetics. Instead it would come down to populism,
with political parties trying to convince voters what
is right when they cannot possibly understand it like
scientists do. After all, would you want to hold a vote
as to who obtains the position of pilot of an airplane
and award the job based on his popularity or would
the fact as to whether he knows how to fly the plane
be more desirable?
For Lehn the most important thing in life is following
your passion, whether it is being a chemist or a
Figure 1: John-Marie Pierre Lehn (Available at: htp://en.m.wikipedia.
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 59
baker, if you have the opportunity to follow your
dreams then you should do whatever you can to
accomplish them. It is Lehn’s belief that science is
a profession and requires a lot of hard work. Take
the analogy of a tennis player; you have to train for
hours every week to become a professional and it
is the same if you are a chemist. You have to work
hard to achieve all of the knowledge that you need
to become a good scientist. The way to achieve
success is hard work as you cannot expect success
to fall into your lap with a click of the fingers, this is
the example that Lehn hopes the next generation
will take from his career as without the hard work
he put in, he would never have achieved his dream,
nor won the Nobel Prize!
1. Available from:
marie-lehn. [Last cited on 2012 Mar 5].
2. Available from:
chemistry/laureates/1987/lehn-cv.html. [Last cited on 2012
Mar 5].
About the Author
Chloé Forsyth studies Biology, English, History and Religious studies at Sir Roger Manwood’s School. She hopes to
go university to study English and eventually become a journalist.
Addendum to Issue 11
We apologise for any inconvenience that the following mistakes to Issue 11 may have made.
Exploring the quantum world
Lauren Peter’s biography should have read as follows:
‘Lauren Peters is interested in the physics behind our natural world and started studying Physics at university
in September 2011’
Household bacteria: Everyday elimination methods uncovered!
1. All DH5µ in the manuscript should be DH5α (alpha instead of mu).
2. In the abstract, e-coli should be E. coli
3. Escherichia coli should be written as E. coli after the first mention.
4. RPM is written as rpm.
60 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
Review Article
To what extent can animals aid
earthquake prediction?
Earthquakes are very hard to predict. Even when Scientists believe an earthquake is
likely, it is still hard to comprehend what the probability implies and what precautions
should be taken. In this article, it is considered how valuable animal behavior can be for
earthquake prediction. Since we cannot accurately predict earthquakes, how do we test
the hypothesis that other species can heed warning signs currently unknown to technology?
Cl ai r e Har net t
Invicta Grammar School, Kent ME14 5DR, England, E-mail:
DOI: ***
It is reported that around 500,000 detectable
earthquakes occur every year, with an estimated
100,000 of those felt by humans without apparatuses
and 100 causing damage to the affected area.

Though not all of these 100 cause significant damage
to human life and economic well-being, in recent
years, we have seen many catastrophic events such
as in 2011, with the Christchurch earthquake and the
Japanese tsunami. This surely raises the question:
Why, in such a technologically advanced world, are
we still so vulnerable to geological hazards? Is it not
time that we were able to accurately forecast these
events with enough warning to save human lives?
As we are currently unable to successfully forecast
earthquakes, there has been an interest in the folklore
surrounding earthquakes to hopefully discover
whether in this case, literary documentation is able
to triumph over science.
Iain Stewart, a geosciences professor at Plymouth
University and a well-known television presenter,
suggested in a discussion that unusual animal
behavior is “very much the dark side of earthquake
science” and that although there is not much
information “in the main seismology literature...
there are nuggets.” This report aims to find such
“nuggets” of information and to explore whether
there is biological or geophysical reasoning behind
this unusual animal behavior.
The 1975 Haicheng Earthquake
When discussing unusual animal behavior before an
earthquake, it is impossible to avoid the 1975 Haicheng
earthquake. This event has since been widely
branded as the earthquake that was successfully
predicted by animals. The earthquake, measuring 7.5
on the Richter scale, struck on February 4; however,
thanks to officials evacuating the area several hours
before the event, it is thought that hundreds of lives
were saved. At the time of the earthquake, the Cultural
Revolution was still heavily underway in China, and
thus external scientists were not granted entry into the
until months after the event. The Chinese
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 61
people had been ordered to look out for unusual
animal behavior, and from this came wide reports of
snakes coming out of hibernation and freezing on
the earth’s surface.
Although the thought of successful earthquake
prediction aroused interest in the Western world,
reports since suggest that it was purely political
propaganda to encourage support from the Chinese
people. Personal communication with Lucile Jones,
a USGS seismologist who went to China in 1980 to
research the Haicheng earthquake, confirmed this
“It was clear that the signal was politically motivated –
the scientists were ordered to ‘learn from the people’
and the peasants were ordered to find animal
anomalies and so they found them. The biggest
signal in the data was the spike every Saturday
afternoon after the Saturday morning commune
meeting when the peasants were exhorted to find
the anomalies.”
In addition to this criticism, the prediction is frequently
criticized by the large number of foreshocks that
occurred before the main earthquake, as many
geologists argue it was these that alerted officials,
rather than the animal behavior.
Reports of Unusual Animal Behavior
Helmut Tributsch is considered the world’s leading
scientist when it comes to animals in earthquake
prediction, and his book When the Snakes Awake is
a list of 78 reports of unusual animal behavior before
earthquakes. As the list was compiled in 1982, there
have been further numerous reports. Moreover,
Chinese scientists have identified 58 species of
wild and domestic animals that are thought to have
“reliable anomalous reactions before earthquakes.”
A particularly strange report of unusual behavior
is that of toad migration preceding an earthquake.
Before the Sichuan earthquake of 2008, tens
of thousands of toads are reported to have left
Mianyang, a city close to the earthquake’s epicenter.

Many people reported this behavior; it has since been
described as an “earthquake omen.” However, it
has since been suggested by local experts that their
migration was due to the depleting oxygen source in
a nearby river, which would account for the effects on
different groups of toads from surrounding villages.

Alternatively Andy Michael, a USGS seismologist,
claimed that this was actually an annual toad
migration reported to occur the same time every
Either way, this documentation of unusual
animal behavior before an earthquake seemed to
be a false alarm.
However, a similar occurrence was seen before
the 2009 earthquake in L’Aquila in Italy. Biologist
Rachel Grant was completing a 29-day study of
toad behavior in Italy around the time the earthquake
struck. She documented that 5 days before the
earthquake, the number of male toads fell by 96%,
and 3 days before the earthquake, the number of
breeding pairs unexpectedly dropped to zero.
the documentation was part of a study unrelated to
seismology, it is thought to be one of the most reliable
documentations of unusual animal behavior in recent
years. It has so far remained unexplained, but due
to the mass of press surrounding the scientists
who were on trial for “manslaughter” for the same
earthquake, it has perhaps lacked the deserved
media and scientific attention.
Though the majority of the evidence is anecdotal, it
seems more than just coincidental that the reports
are so widespread in aerial distribution and timescale.
A frequent criticism of the documentations of
unusual animal behavior comes from the difficulty
in establishing a universal definition of “unusual.”
Richard Walker, a Royal Society University research
fellow from Oxford University, posed the question
in an email discussion of “how many times animals
behave in a way that we would describe as ’abnormal’
but which isn’t followed by an earthquake, and so is
forgotten about.”
This idea seems a constant topic
of debate within the scientific field.
Unusual Animal Behavior
Immediately Before an Earthquake
The most frequently proposed reasoning behind
unusual animal behavior before an earthquake
is the occurrence of foreshocks, as seen when
examining the case study of Haicheng. As there
is currently no way to distinguish foreshocks from
smaller earthquakes, it is thought that animals react
to the shaking of the ground, rather than to any more
complicated geophysical precursors.
There is a general consensus within seismological
circles that the reason for this is that animals
have the ability to detect P (primary) waves before
62 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
humans detect the slower S (secondary) waves. An
earthquake causes both S and P waves, but seismic
P waves travel approximately 2–4 km/s faster than the
S waves that cause the ground to shake,
and are
therefore detectable by humans without instruments.
The Changes in Electric and Magnetic
Fields and Their Effect on Animal
Before an earthquake, it is thought that electrical
pulses in the earth increase the “telluric current.” This
is thought to create an electric field, which sparks a
magnetic field, thus the effects of them cannot be
examined independently. The earth’s electric field
naturally varies up to around 10
V/m, and before an
earthquake, the electric field is thought to fluctuate by
around 6 × 10
. Though this is six times the usual
amount, it is approximately the same level of variation
that occurs during a normal thunderstorm, and
thus cannot reliably be deduced as a geophysical
earthquake precursor.
Changes in the magnetic fields on the other hand
are thought to have a large impact on animals that
use magnetic fields to orientate themselves, such as
homing pigeons. In a conversation with former USGS
seismologist Jim Berkland, it was mentioned that
“homing pigeons were being lost” during stronger
Californian earthquakes.
It seems that migrating
birds show deviations from their usual course due
to local geomagnetic anomalies. In a lecture given
by Friedemann Freund, he showed a disruption of
the circadian rhythm of rats that occurred at the
same time as a spike in the magnetic field before the
2008 Sichuan earthquake.
Though both of these
examples seem to suggest an animal reaction to
geomagnetic anomalies, they are still only considered
as “anecdotal,” so do not pertain to be reliable
enough. The opposing argument is presented by
Tong, who claims, “the variations due to normal (non-
seismic) factors are only 30 gammas; those due to
earthquakes are usually only 20 gammas.”
therefore suggests that an animal would not be able
to distinguish between a change in the magnetic field
caused by impending seismic activity and a normal
magnetic field variation.
Scientific Viability through the Theory
of Increased Ionization
The possible precursors presented so far seem to
be dubious in their reliability when examined in direct
relation to the stimulation of unusual animal behavior.
This theory has, for a long time, seemed inexplicable.
However, a paper written in 2011 that mainly focused
on ground water chemistry changes before major
earthquakes may offer us a solution.
Grant et al.
propose a theory of increased ionization, an idea that
was also mentioned in Tributsch’s When the Snakes
Awake but at that time required more research to be
considered a serious possibility. This research has
since been done, and Grant et al. appear to put
forward a convincing argument.
When rocks are put under pressure, it is thought that
an electric current is generated within the rock. The
theory stems from the principles of the piezoelectric
effect and has been furthered by Grant et al.
put forward the idea that a reaction occurs between
the silicon bonds of the rock and oxygen and forms
what is called a “positive hole” in the rock. This hole
can then move away from the initial site of strain,
spreading the stress into the unstressed rock. This
means that the original stressed rock becomes
negatively charged as it has lost the charge to the
originally unstressed rock, which gains a positive
charge. This effectively turns the rock into a battery
by creating a flow of electric potential. Not only does
the electric charge create an electric current beneath
the earth’s surface, but if it is strong enough (i.e., in
more major earthquakes), it is thought that it can also
generate microscopic electric fields that are able to
ionize the air surrounding the rock.
Positive ions in the air are also thought to cause
serotonin levels to increase, both in humans and
animals, and thus would give reason to unusual
animal behavior.
It is thought that an increase in
serotonin levels in animals leads to irritable behavior,
and also has the ability to cause physiological
which may explain the unusual animal
behavior before earthquakes.
Though the idea of increased ionization seems the
most likely as of yet, discussions with Alexander
Densmore, the Deputy Director of the Institute
of Hazard, Ri sk and Resi l i ence at Durham
University, suggested, “just because something is
possible, doesn’t mean that it is definite” (personal
correspondence, 2012).
There are still flaws in
this line of thinking, for example, the argument that
the electrical conductivity of the ground means that
the electric field would not be suggested at the
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 63
magnitude required to ionize the air. Though this
theory is without doubt the most promising, Iain
Stewart’s claim that this is “dark side of earthquake
science” still rings true.
Critical Response from Academics
The theory of animals in earthquake science is
frequently criticized by the variability in the animal’s
responses from reactions of agitation to panic to
excitement. Cynics often argue that if one dog reacts
unusually before an earthquake, surely all dogs
should react the same way before all earthquakes.

However, this line of reasoning seems to have a fairly
simple answer in that there is huge variability within
a species. In addition to this, Tributsch’s list of 78
incidences of unusual animal behavior preceding an
includes around 85 different species,

which makes it unsurprising that one particular
geophysical signal could be responsible for the
reactions of so many different species. In addition to
this, we have to take account of the variability within
a species, which may lead to varying responses
even to the same geophysical signal. In discussions
with John Rollins, a professor from the University of
Southern California, it was also made evident that
the geophysical variability between earthquakes
could easily be responsible for the variability in
animals’ responses. He put forward the idea that
“different faults have different failure strengths,” so
their ability to surpass an animal’s stress threshold
would be different for each earthquake that occurs.

This reasoning also shows how difficult coherent
research would be into this field, as there are so many
independent variables.
Another criticism of the usefulness of animals in
earthquake forecasting often lies with the flaws in the
people involved in the data collection. For example,
the data are often collected after the event, which has
led some critics to argue a theory of “confirmation
This means that an owner of a domestic
animal will notice unusual behavior, but only link it
to the earthquake after they have felt the shaking or
heard news reports of the earthquake, and thus the
information is unreliable. Such an idea was supported
by Dr. Max Wyss, the Director of the World Agency of
Planetary Monitoring and Earthquake Risk Reduction,
who claims, “human beings have a tendency to
believe anything that catches their fancy.”
Primary research was conducted as part of this
report, whereby an interview with 42 academics
from the fields of geology and seismology was
conducted; in the majority of whom are experts in
the fields of seismology. Table 1 shows just some of
the responses in these interviews:
Figures 1 and 2 show the extent to which the idea
of animals in earthquake prediction is ridiculed
within academic circles. An almost unsurprisingly
high percentage of the academics asked believe
that animals present absolutely no chance of
improvement in earthquake prediction. The email sent
to the academics asked only for two yes/no answers;
however, a large majority of the people responded with
more comprehensive answers. Of the 31 more detailed
replies, 58% blamed their cynicism on the “anecdotal”
nature of the current evidence, making it unreliable.
Conversations with Friedemann Freund, a senior NASA
researcher, introduced an opposing viewpoint:
“Many mainstream seismologists use the word
‘anecdotal’ to call into question something which
THEY don’t understand. They conveniently forget
that every discovery in the natural sciences begins
with ‘anecdotal’ observations. Just think of shooting
stars. In the past people had to wait endless
hours through the nights to see them. Once it was
understood that they are debris particles in comet
trails, which the Earth intersects at certain times of
the year, the chances of seeing them and even seeing
fireballs became much better... it all boils down to
Freund presents an interesting idea that is mirrored
by Tributsch (p. 11), that “few seismologists had
the courage to take the evidence seriously.”
therefore presents the idea that the problems lie
with the current world of science. Tributsch even
goes so far as to suggest that the cynicism of the
science world may have dissuaded many people
from passing on their experiences of earthquake
Table 1: Descriptons used to directly describe the use of animals in
earthquake predicton
Descripton Source
“Magical thinking at its worst” Email correspondence with Lucile
Jones, 2012
“Just voodoo” Email correspondence with Thorne
Lay, 2012
“Something of a distracton... a
complete diversion from fnding
(a method of earthquake predicton)”
Email correspondence with Richard
Phillips, 2012
Part of “the pseudo-science realm” Email correspondence with Iain
Stewart, 2012
“Nonsense” Email correspondence with Max
Wyss, 2012
“Unscientfc folklore” Tong, 1988
64 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
precursors, for fear of being ridiculed, a fear which
is shown in Table 1 to have fair foundations.
Tributsch (p. 213) argues, “scientific progress seems
able to offer us everything except the knowledge
that takes centuries to acquire,”
which brings
into question the future of the idea of animals in
earthquake science. It is necessary for us to establish
whether the cynicism comes from fear of researching
something currently considered as “nonsense,” or
whether the cynicism really is because the idea is
just not scientifically plausible.
The Future of the Use of Animal
Behavior in Earthquake Prediction
Susan Hough, another wel l -known author i n
earthquake science, claims, “earthquake prediction
represents an ongoing collision between science
and society.”
It seems almost that this collision is
taking over from the importance of the research itself.
Hough does, however, pose the question of whether
the small-scale approach of villages can in this case
triumph over the advances of science. Tributsch

was really the first to make a serious impact in the
field of animals in earthquake science, and after his
demands for additional research, there seemed to be
a boom in interest in the late 70s/early 80s. Fattahi,
a geophysics lecturer from Oxford university, claims,
“after the failure of all people who work on earthquake
prediction, the available funding has declined a lot”
(personal correspondence, 2012).
The current available research makes it clear that
more investigation is needed into the various different
geological precursors, and particularly into the area
of increased ionization. Kirschvink suggested, “it is
clearly prohibitively expensive to record continuously
a random variety of physical and chemical parameters
near all possible earthquake epicenters”
(p. 314).
This is an understandable argument as constant
monitoring would be required; however, Kirschvink
also suggests that the introduction of inexpensive
monitors could severely impact our current knowledge.
Constant monitoring does propose huge benefits as
it would not only pick up unusual activity before an
earthquake, but could also provide a baseline for
“usual” activity. A constant record would also oppose
the argument that we do not get reports of unusual
behavior without an earthquake.
There is certainly controversy surrounding the
concept of using animals in the forecasting of
earthquakes. Though no conclusive research has yet
been published, one could argue that there must at
least be a possibility for truth in the “folklore,” else
the idea would immediately be dismissed on a large
scale. An idea further to those discussed in this report
is that even if animals do not respond with enough
notice to directly impact or enable earthquake
prediction, they may at least point us to geophysical
precursors that may otherwise have gone unnoticed.
It should be noted that the aforementioned research
“boom” in the late 70s was even supported by the
USGS, who according to Tong funded two research
projects into “Abnormal Animal Behaviour Prior to
This suggests that the idea is not
as ridiculous as many geologists and seismologists
have implied, as it was once seriously considered by
the USA’s leading seismological body. Our advances
in technology have perhaps made people less open
to traditional scientific methods. Tributsch’s view
from over 30 years ago still rings true in that more
Figure 1: Answers to the queston `Do you think examining animal
behaviour has the potental to seriously impact earthquake predicton?'
Figure 2: A graph to show the percentage of academics asked who
mentoned the idea of `anecdotal evidence' in their responses
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 65
research is the only way to confirm or rule out the
idea of using unusual animal behavior as a reliable
method of earthquake prediction. Freund ended his
research paper from 2003 with the quotation from
philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer:
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is
ridiculed. Second, it is violent[ly] opposed. Third, it
is accepted as being self-evident.”
(p. 67)
Based on this, one could say that the prospect
of animals in earthquake science has already
succumbed to ridicule and violent opposition. If
Schopenhauer is to be true, the only stage left is
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About the Author
Claire Harnett, 17 is a student at Invicta Grammar School, currently studying Further Maths, Geography, German and
English Literature. She enjoys travelling and going to the theatre. Her interest in earthquakes has really flourished in the
last year and Claire plans to study BSc in Geological Hazards next year at Portsmouth University.
66 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
Source of the Problem
Currently, many of the water sewerage systems
in the UK are not advanced enough to cope with
the input of oestrogen into the water supply. Every
day, millions of women around the world wake up
and take their contraceptive tablet [Figure 1], the
pill, thinking nothing more of it than as if they were
simply taking any other pharmaceutical medication.
However, the 17α–ethinylestradiol (oestrogen) within
this tablet does not remain in the body. As the woman
urinates, the drug leaves the body and enters the
water system. Most of the sewerage systems around
the world were built before the contraceptive pill was
even invented; the thought of filtering out thousands
of pharmaceuticals such as oestrogen was never a
deliberation. In the society today, no fewer than 100
million women worldwide are taking the Pill and 3.5
million of those are from the UK.
The effect of the
introduction of this hormone into the water system
has only until very recently been flagged up as a
Examples of the Problems Caused
by the Lack of Efficient Filtering of
The problems caused are multifaceted; they include
the following:
The feminization of the male roach fish
Vitellogenin is an oestrogen-responsive egg yolk
precursor protein which is present in all female fish
including the roach fish. In 1994, caged male roach
fish were discovered to have excessive amounts
of vitellogenin, suggesting that these fish had been
exposed to high levels of forms of oestrogen; an
extreme case is shown in Figure 2. Originally, this finding
was put down to the existence of industrially created
oestrogen replacements – for example, nonylphenol, a
“breakdown product” of a variety of widely utilized non-
ionic surfactants. However, it has been discovered that
the natural 17α–ethinylestradiol (the oestrogen found
in the Pill) as well as the natural steroids 17α-estradiol
and estrone are more responsible than nonylphenol for
The inefficiency of sewage
processing for oestrogen removal
Review Article
Ni c ol a Ki ng
The King's School, Canterbury, UK. E-mail:
DOI: ???
One hundred million women worldwide take the contraceptive pill. The UK’s water systems
do not have the capability to filter out the oestrogen introduced through the consumption
of the pill. This causes problems such as the feminization of the roach fish, cancer, and
infertility. Possible solutions include: incorporating biofilm into the sewage treatment
process, which increases the biodegradation activity level of the microorganisms employed
in the process; reverse osmosis, which filters the oestrogen out under pressure; ozonation,
which uses ozone to decompose the oestrogen; and replacing the pill with the alternative
contraceptive the mini-pill, which contains no oestrogen.
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 67
contributing to this effect. Overall, studies have shown
that it is the 17α-ethinylestradiol that is causing most
of the problems.
There are vast benefits to humans in filtering out the
oestrogen in the water supply. It is well known that
oestrogen is a major cause of cancers,
breast, endometrial, cervical, colon, brain tumors,
testicular, and prostate cancer. Elevated levels of
the hormone can also cause an increase in infertility.
Cancer affects one in three people at some time
in their lives, though some tumors are much less
common than others. In the UK, the commonest
form in women is breast cancer, followed by
colorectal, lung, and skin cancer. The Office of
Health Economics has calculated that the cost to the
National Healthcare Service (NHS) of treating cancer
in 1998/99 was £1986 million, of which £15754 million
represented hospital treatment costs, £177 million
was spent on anti-cancer medicines, and £54 million
was accounted for by GP and pharmacy costs.
must clarify that although oestrogen is a major cause
in many types of cancer, not all cancers are related
to this hormone.
Current Ineffective Sewerage
Treatment Process
Generally, the chief process of sewerage treatment
is activated sludge. Activated sludge is a process
[Figure 3] in sewage treatment in which air or oxygen
is forced into sewage liquor to develop a biological floc
(precipitate that appears during flocculation), which
Figure 2: Tests of intersex roach showing presence of ova within
the testcular tssue (tests have been done in labs which prove that
oestrogen has this afect on the tssue) [Available from htp://www.]
Figure 3: The current system of actvated sludge plants [Available from htp://
Figure 1: Woman taking the pill [Available from htp://
68 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
reduces the organic content of the sewage. Once
the sewage has received sufficient treatment, excess
mixed liquid is discharged into settling tanks and the
supernatant is run off to undergo further treatment
before discharge. Part of the settled material, the
sludge, is returned to the start of the aeration system
to re-seed the new sewage entering the tank. The
remaining sludge then undergoes further treatment.
Currently, activated sludge plants remove about:
• 70–88% of 17β-estradiol
• 50–75% of estrone
• 50–85% of 17α-ethinylestradiol
This appears effective but leaves about 1–10 ng/
(parts per trillion) of these harmful hormones
in the water system, which, despite the small
concentrations, can still have a devastating impact
on the environment as stated earlier.
The UK’s Disadvantage
The United Kingdom has a particular disadvantage
in that it has very small rivers [Figure 4] to source the
supply of water in addition to the fact that it serves a high
population density. As a result, the UK’s Environment
Agency is thinking of ways to control the output of these
hormones into the water supply. It has been brought to
light that in London, water has passed through eight
people prior to its ingestion by any individual.
What Properties Should the Solutions
Have and Why?
Many of t hese harmf ul est rogens possess
hydrophobic characteristics, so they are insoluble.
The hydrophobic effect is fundamentally based on
the tendency of (polar) water molecules to exclude
non-polar molecules, which leads to segregation of
water and non-polar molecules.
In addition to the previously mentioned chemicals,
which are endocrine disrupters, examples such as
17β-estradiol only slowly biodegrade – at the very
least, it is necessary to modify the activated sludge
plant to eliminate them at a reasonable rate.
Impractical Solutions to Improving
the Ineffective, Current Activated
Sludge Plants
• To double, triple, or even quadruple the quantities
of activated sludge bacteria existing inside the
last tank, where the biodegradation activity must
be increased to break down more oestrogen.
The last tank in many sewage works is not easily
accessible and it is, therefore, difficult to place
the bacteria sediment in this tank.
• Making the aeration tank much bigger will result in
the tank holding water for longer, which will allow
more time for the biodegrading process to take
place. Again, there is a negative side to this in that
the necessary large size of the treatment plant
results in an increase in expenses. Furthermore,
this expansion and modification can only happen
in plants that have onsite space to allow for it.
As these treatments are very costly, other more
practical solutions are more commonly being
incorporated into sewerage systems.
Chosen Solutions
A biofilm is a complex aggregation of microorganisms
growing on a solid substrate. Biofilms are characterized
by structural heterogeneity, bacterial genetic diversity,
complex community interactions, and an extracellular
matrix of polymeric substances.
The proportion of
an organic contaminant such as oestrogen that can
be removed from the sewage effluent depends on
the attractive power of the biofilm sorbent and the
quantity of sorbent present per unit of volume.
As the capability to enlarge the biological sorbent’s
“attractiveness” is restricted by space, it can be
overcome by raising the quantity of sorbent. Activated
Figure 4: Image of Barlings Eau River [Available from htp://www.]
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 69
sludge tanks work with a biomass content ranging
from 2.5 to 4 g/dm
, as an increased concentration
may create a settling problem. A biofilm, when joined
onto carrier substances, does not create the same
difficulties in eliminating sludge out of the effluent as
a standard biofilm. A biomass of 12–35 g/dm
possibly be upheld inside a separate section of the
activated sludge tank using a biofilm; this is a 3–8.5
fold increase in biomass. and therefore an increase
in biodegradation activity level.
Figure 5 shows how a biofilm actually lets organisms
grow on it, as described in the previous paragraph.
This can provide a more sorbent binding surface as
well as an increased biodegradation capacity than is
usually present. The ratio of high biomass and high
available surface area offers the highest capability to
absorb and remove the oestrogen compounds from
the aqueous phase.
The process of eradication of the oestrogen
contaminants is in two stages: primary adhering to
the bacterial surfaces and biodegradation on the
bacterial surfaces.
To demonstrate how biofilms are supported and
cultivated under normal sludge plant conditions,
scientists, including Andrew Johnson, carried out
various studies. They obtained and positioned a large
selection of different media inside cages made from
stainless steel, and immersed them into the aeration
tank of a standard activated sludge plant. The media
were removed from the tank for analysis after some
time for investigation in the lab.
The biofilm was used to start bacterial growth in a
“bench-scale unit” [Figure 6]. For safety reasons,
they used Ultra-High-Temperature (UHT) skimmed
milk (with added nitrogen and phosphorus) instead
of sewage as this has the same biomass range as
regular sludge plant sewage. This fluid was then
contaminated with oestrogen. The medium with
biofilm fastened to it was placed in an “up flow
glass bioreactor” [as seen in Figure 6]. The following
passage is from the scientist who led the studies:
“The feed liquor moved through the bio filter, was
aerated and then overflowed to the next reactor. The
typical hydraulic residence time in the bioreactors
was around 20 minutes. Both the feed and effluent
were constantly monitored for oestrogen using Liquid
Chromatography Mass Spectroscopy.”
To prove that the biofilm could efficiently remove
Figure 5: Showing how bioflm allows organism growth [Available from
Figure 6: Showing how the experiment was carried out [Available from
oestrogen, 100 µg/dm
ethinylestradiol (EE2), the
first orally active semi-synthetic steroidal oestrogen,
was inserted into and remained in the bioreactor for
20 days. During the test, 90–95% of the EE2 was
removed [Figure 7].
How appropriate is this solution?
• This method is appropriate as it removes
almost all of the oestrogen in the effluent. It is
70 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
a relatively low-cost solution compared to other
more expensive approaches, as it only requires
adding moderately cheap mechanisms into
existing activated sludge plants. Other solutions
involve building whole new plants or machinery
that would be inappropriate, both in terms of cost
and the environment.
• Although this solution appears to be economically
superior to the other solutions, it does still involve
a setup cost in correctly inserting the biofilm.
There is also a time when the plant is not
operative (during repairing and replacing biofilm)
and one must consider where the sewage will be
held during this period. Some options include:
holding it in tanks, which is expensive; releasing
the load into the sea and rivers, which is polluting;
or sending it to other functioning plants, putting
a strain on their work.
• Another flaw with this solution is that there is
restricted growth of bacteria on the biofilm,
and therefore with time, the ability to hold and
biodegrade the oestrogen may be affected.
Therefore, the biofilm may need replacement
and this is inconvenient as constant inspection
and repairing is required, and again, there is the
problem of storing the sludge during the process.
• The risk of the method to other organisms is that
the biofilm may begin to let harmful or polluting
bacteria cultivate there, as there are optimum
bacterial conditions. These have the threat
of contaminating the effluent at a later stage,
which may cause more harm than good to the
organisms that use the water.
• The obvious benefit of the methodology is
removing at least 80% more oestrogen from the
effluent, and consequently, the environment and
the population would not be exposed to the high
oestrogen levels, and are therefore less likely to
be prone to the negative side effects that were
previously discussed.
• There is an environmental benefit to this solution
in that the Earth’s resources are not required in
this method. It can be seen in Figure 8 that the
aeration tank involved is easily accessible, so
there would be no need to make a contraption
to get inside it, again saving resources and
conserving time.
Figure 7: A table showing EE2 escape following 2 h of treatment with bioflm sustained by synthetc sewage [Available from htp://www.eng.]
Figure 8: Aeraton tank of an actvated sludge plant [Available from
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 71
• An additional environmental benefit is that
aqueous plants and underwater habitats will be
much less polluted by oestrogen.
• The only input of greenhouse gases into the
atmosphere is in the transport of the materials
to each of the sludge plants, when CO
will be
Reverse osmosis
“Reverse osmosis,” as the name suggests, involves
the opposite action to osmosis and is shown in Figure 9.
Osmosis is the movement of a solvent through a
selectively permeable membrane into a s olution of
higher solute concentration that tends to equalize
the concentrations of solute on the two sides of the
In reverse osmosis, the membrane is used as a
very fine filter to produce pure water from water
contaminated with the oestrogen. The polluted
water is kept on one side of the membrane and then
pressure is applied to stop, and then reverse, the
osmotic process.
• There are many advantages to reverse osmosis. It is
environmentally friendly because the process does
not create or use harmful chemicals. Moreover, the
process does not require many raw materials and
in this respect, it is considered to be “green.” It is
also very effective in oestrogen removal.
• However, a major disadvantage in the process
is that reverse osmosis requires a vast quantity
of water as well as pressure. Such systems
typically return as little as 5–15% of the water
pushed through the system;
this means that
the process is very time consuming, and the
method very inefficient. This enormous volume
of water also has to be free of bacteria; to create
a system to carry out all this would require time
and money. The outcome of removing oestrogen
is beneficial though, so there is a decision to
be made as to whether the amount of money
required to be spent on this system is worth the
benefit of the oestrogen removal.
Ozone (O
) is an “unstable gas” containing three
oxygen atoms; the gas will easily convert back to
oxygen, and during this conversion a free oxygen
atom or “radical” is created. The free oxygen radical
is extremely reactive but has a short half-life. In normal
circumstances, it can only last for milliseconds, and
in this time, it will oxidize practically any chemical,
including oestrogen. It has seven times the oxidizing
capability of free chlorine atoms, but does not create
toxic waste (which the majority of other chemicals do).
Role of ozone in water treatment
As ozonation has the ability to break up virtually any
chemical, oestrogen in the water is also broken up.
As ozone degrades back to oxygen and free radicals,
Figure 9: Image of reverse osmosis process [Available from htp://]
72 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
the probability of water oxidizing other chemicals
is raised. This capability to oxidize is determined
as “redox” potential – the higher this potential, the
greater the intensity of the free radicals. As the redox
potential is increased, so is the range of chemical
species that can be oxidized.
The advantages of ozonation are as follows
• Removes oestrogen
• Reduces oxygen demanding matter, turbidity
and surfactants
• Removes most colours, phenolics and cyanides
• Increases dissolved oxygen
• No significant toxic products
• Increases suspended solids’ reduction
The disadvantages of ozonation are as follows
• High capital cost
• High electricity consumption
• Highly corrosive, especially with steel or iron and
even oxidizes Neoprene
The mini-pill
The mini-pill is another form of oral contraception
that contains no oestrogen, as stated by the GP
Dr. David Delvin: “Unlike the ordinary pill it contains
just one hormone – not two. That hormone is a
progestogen. A progestogen – which is an artificially
manufactured hormone – is very like progesterone,
which is one of the female hormones the body
produces. Unlike the ‘ordinary’ pill, the mini-pill
contains no oestrogen at all.”
It may be suggested that the population increase
their use of this form of oral contraception rather than
using the regular oestrogen pill, which is currently the
most popular form of contraception.
The latest progestogen only pill (POP) “Cerazette,”
also known as “desogestrel,” is considered as
effective as the oestrogen contraceptive pill (OCP;
i.e. combined pill) in protecting against pregnancy
[Figure 10].
• The first and obvious advantage is that there
will be a considerable reduction in the country’s
oestrogen levels.Therefore, all the problems that
these high levels of oestrogen create will either
be terminated or significantly reduced.
• It protects the population from unwanted
• It has the following advantages in its primary
function as a contraceptive:
1. Effective and reversible (failure rate 0.5% in
original POPs but 0.17% with Cerazette)
2. Decreased risk of venous embolism
3. Decreased risk of endometrial cancer,
pelvic inflammatory disease, premenstrual
syndrome, mastalgia and thrush.
4. Does not interfere with breast-feeding.
5. Not affected by antibiotics, sodium valproate
or clonazepam.
6. Causes fewer metabolic changes – does not
raise blood pressure or increase cholesterol
levels. Minimal effects on clotting mechanism
and glucose metabolism.
• There is insufficient evidence to support the idea
that the drug does not cause the same effects as
oestrogen in effluent.
• It would be incredibly difficult to persuade a
nation to switch to another form of contraception,
if they are happy with their current choice, in a
short time.
• The following are the disadvantages to its primary
function as a contraceptive:
1. Needs to be taken daily.If using any POP
other than Cerazette, it must be taken at the
same time every day or within 3 hours.
2. Irregular periods, heavy periods or no
periods, can occur.
3. Interactions with enzyme inducing drugs
can occur (rifampicin and some anti-
4. May worsen acne. Si de ef f ects –
headaches, dizziness, nausea, bloating,
breast tenderness, moodiness and loss
of libido.
5. Ovarian cysts may occasionally develop.
Fi gure 10: The Cerazette mi ni -pi l l [Avai l abl e from http://]
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 73
Having evaluated the various solutions to the
problems that oestrogen in the effluent creates, I
conclude that biofilm in the aeration tanks of activated
sludge plants is probably the best option, having
considered the advantages and disadvantages of
all the various solutions. The main advantages it has
over the other solutions I have studied are as follows:
• Biofilm is a more cost-effective solution compared
with ozonation and reverse osmosis.
• Biofilm is a comparatively easy method to remove
oestrogen from the effluent.
• Once the biofilm has been installed in activated
sludge plants, there is no requirement for annual
replacement of materials, and aeration tanks
allow for easy access.
• Biofilm does not rely on unpredictable public
cooperation, whereas using the mini-Pill solution
• Biofilm is the most environmentally friendly
• Biofilm is the most effective long-term solution for
removing oestrogen from the water.
1. Stacey D. Top 10 Pill Myths., 2007. Available from:
pillmyths.htm.[Last accessed 2011 Feb].
2. Delvin D. Contraception – The Contraceptive Pill. Net
Doctor, 2011. Available from:
sex_relationships/facts/contraceptivepills.htm.[Last accessed
2011 Feb].
3. Oestrogen – The Killer in Our Midst. Cancer Active, 2003.
Available from:
page-link.aspx?n=661.[Last accessed 2011 Feb].
4. Bartlett S. A-Z of Medicines Research. 4
ed. United Kingdom:
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry; 2007.
[Last accessed 2011 Feb].
5. What is Activated Sludge?, 2005. Available
sludge.htm.[Last accessed 2011 Feb].
6. 10 Facts About Water in London.,
2008. Available from:
resources/10-facts-about-water-in-london.html.[Last accessed
2011 Feb].
7. Hydrophobic Effect. Available from: http://[Last accessed
2011 Feb].
8. Bioscreen C. What is Biofilm?, 2005.
Available from:
biofilm.htm.[Last accessed 2011 Feb].
9. Johnson A,Darton R. Removing Oestrogenic Compounds from
Sewage Effluent.Available from:
chemeng/pdf/oestrogens.pdf.[Last accessed 2011 Feb].
10. Water Ozone Generator/Ozonator. Air Purifier’s Superstore.
Available from:
air_water_ozonator.html.[Last accessed 2011 Feb].
11. Rossa-Lee C.Ozonation of Wastewaters. Mountain Empire
Community College. Available from:
edu/courses/ENV149/ozonation.htm.[Last accessed 2011 Feb].
12. Delvin D. The Mini-pill--Progesterone-only Pill or POP. Net
Doctor, 2011. Available from:
sex_relationships/facts/mini-pills.htm.[Last accessed 2011 Feb].
13. Smithson J. Progesterone-onlyPill.
contraception/pop.htm.[Last accessed 2011 Feb].
About the Author
Nicola King goes to school in Canterbury. She studies Maths, Physics, Biology, and Art, and hopes to study Biology
at University one day. The interest for this article started when she read an article in the news about the male roach fish
turning female.
74 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
Review Article
The evolution of atomic theory
Imagine that the world around us is made of an uncountable number of small units. Up
until 200 years ago, this was pure, perhaps ridiculous speculation. Now it is a widely
accepted theory and we call these units atoms. In fact, it is believed that these units are
made up of further, smaller units. How have we come to such a conclusion from just two
centuries of experimentation?
Al l en Zheng
Palo Alto High School, Palo Alto, California, United States. E-mail:
DOI: ***
The Beginning of Atomic Theory
The composition of matter is a question fundamental
to our understanding of the world. Many once
thought that matter could be split up into infinitesimal
pieces; in fact, until the 19
century, the answer to
the question remained largely speculative. However,
in the years 1803–1807, John Dalton, an English
schoolteacher, carried out several experiments based
on the laws of conservation of matter and of definite
The flaws in Dalton’s conception of the
atom were gradually corrected by other scientists,
and the atomic model still undergoes modification
as new discoveries are made.
Thomson’s Model and Rutherford’s
The first formal model of an atom was put forth by
British scientist J. J. Thomson in 1897, who proposed
that an atom consisted of a sphere of positive charge,
with negatively charged electrons dotted within it
[Figure 1]. It was nicknamed the ‘plum-pudding’
model, as it represented an atom as a positively
charged mass with electrons randomly laid about
inside it, much like raisins in a cake
(Thomson is
also credited with the discovery of the existence
of electrons through an experiment involving the
deflection of cathode rays with a magnetic field
However, this model was disproved by Ernest
Rutherford in an experiment in which α-particles
(positively charged products of nuclear radiation)
were passed through extremely thin gold foil (only
several thousand atoms thick) [Figure 2]. According
to Thomson’s model, all of the particles should have
been deflected very slightly or not at all by the gold
atoms. However, a tiny number of particles were
deflected sharply. Rutherford remarked that it was
‘almost as incredible as if you had fired a 15-inch shell
at a piece of tissue paper and it had bounced back
and hit you!’ Rutherford’s revised model therefore
consists of an extremely small, dense region in
the atom with a positive charge called the nucleus
that contains nearly all of its mass, while the rest
of the volume is empty space in which electrons
move around the nucleus. This explains the sharply
deflected particles, as the nucleus had both the mass
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 75
and the concentration of positive charge to deflect
Bohr’s Model
Rutherford’s model was accurate in that atoms do
have nuclei, but the nature of electron movement
about the nucleus was still undetermined; most
scientists at the time believed electrons orbit the
nucleus the way planets orbit the sun. This idea was
confronted by Niels Bohr using the idea that energy
is quantized. That is, there is a minimum amount of
energy called a ‘quantum’ that can be transferred.
This is equal to the amount of energy contained in a
single photon. He further proposed that classical laws
of physics were inadequate to explain the nature of
electron movement, reasoning that if the laws were
true, electrons would spiral into and collide with the
nucleus. Using the hydrogen atom for simplicity’s
sake, Bohr’s model assigns energy levels where
electrons exist, and states that unless they are in
those energy levels, electrons radiate energy until
they enter an ‘allowable’ energy level [Figure 3].
This was the beginning of the modern model of
atoms involving discrete energy levels held by the
electrons. However, the Bohr model still had severe
shortcomings in its inability to predict the behavior
of more complex atoms.
Schrödinger’s Model and the
Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
Based on Louis de Broglie’s theory of the wave–
particle duality of matter, Erwin Schrödinger expanded
upon the Bohr model of the atom. Specifically,
Schrödinger formed an equation describing the
movement of electrons by treating electrons as waves
instead of particles.
As electrons are evaluated as
wave functions, the model assigns probabilities to
Figure 1: J.J. Thompson’s model of an atom [Available from htp://
Figure 2: An image depictng Rutherford’s experiment [Available from
Figure 3: A diagram illustratng Bohr’s model [Available from htp://www. jpg]
Figure 4: A diagram illustrating the ‘electron probability density
functon’ [Available from htp://
76 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
where an electron could be at any given time, forming
an ‘electron probability density function’ around the
nucleus rather than defining the specific location of
an electron [Figure 4]. This uncertainty was looked
into by Werner Heisenberg, who proposed that due to
the dual nature of matter, there exists a fundamental
restriction on the ability to know both the momentum
and location of an electron at the same time. Only
one could be found at any point in time for any given
electron. Therefore, rather than making precise claims
about the location and movement of each electron, the
modern model assigns probabilities to these results.
Modern Applications of Atomic
Atomic theory plays an important role in both
physics and chemistry. By examining the behavior of
electrons, scientists have formed cogent explanations
for relatively new insights such as the configurations
of complex molecules, bonding behavior, and
molecule polarity, as well as explanations for more
common phenomena such as water tension.
Chemists and physicists after Rutherford have also
About the Author
Allen Zheng is 17 years old and currently attends Palo Alto High School. He participates in contest mathematics, debates
at the national level, and plays tennis recreationally. He especially enjoys math, chemistry, and physics classes in school.
performed similar experiments to Rutherford and
his colleagues on a different scale, bombarding
radioactive elements with neutrons to form elements
that, as far as we can tell, do not exist naturally. By
examining some of the smallest particles in the
universe, scientists have even managed to create
some of the most powerful sources of energy, as well
as the single most destructive weapon known to man.
1. Dalton J. On the Absorption of Gases by Water and Other
Liquids, in Memoirs of the Literary and Philosophical Society of
Manchester, 1803. [Retrieved on 2007 Aug 29].
2. Thomson JJ. On the structure of the atom: An investigation of
the stability and periods of oscillation of a number of corpuscles
arranged at equal intervals around the circumference of a circle;
with application of the results to the theory of atomic structure.
Philos Mag 1904;7:237.
3. Thomson JJ. Cathode rays ([facsimile from Stephen Wright,
Classical Scientific Papers, Physics (Mills and Boon, 1964)]).
Philos Mag 1897;44:293.
4. Schrödinger E. Quantisation as an eigenvalue problem. Ann
Phys 1926;81:109-39.
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 77
Background on GMOs
In 1972, researchers spliced DNA from a virus and a
bacterium together to create a “recombinant” molecule.
Such a hybrid molecule combines traits from two different
organisms to form a new genetic code. Scientists
eventually discovered an innovative way of genetically
modifying plants by inserting antibiotic-producing DNA
into a bacterium and allowing it to “infect” plants, thus
transferring the antibiotic producing capabilities to the
plant’s genetic code. Since then, methods of artificial
gene insertion have developed, including using a
microsyringe to inject DNA molecules and a “gene gun”
that fires DNA-coated metal particles into the cell.

In the 1990s, the agricultural industry began offering
biotech crops to the public. One such product was the
FlavrSavr tomato which could retain its firmness for
longer and thus boasted an extended shelf-life [Figure 1].
In nature, tomatoes contain a gene producing enzymes
which decompose the structural pectin in the fruit. By
reversing the gene to block enzyme production, food
scientists created a tomato that could ripen without
Today, the most prevalent GM (genetically
modified) crops are soybeans containing bacterium
genes that allow the crops to resist herbicides sprayed
onto fields. Another example is Bt-corn, engineered
to produce Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) proteins that
provide resistance to insects. GM corn came under
Should we promote the widespread
consumption of biotech foods?
Review Article
Kar en Wang
Lynbrook High School, San Jose, California, E-mail:
DOI: ***
Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, can be engineered to resist disease, produce
more vitamins, and even provide lifesaving vaccines. Recently, scientists have been
experimenting with modifying plant and animal genes to create new breeds of crops and
livestock that grow faster, provide more nutrition, and minimize pollution. Why, then,
are some citizens and experts hesitant about promoting the widespread consumption
of these “biotech” foods? As shall be made clear, there are significant drawbacks to this
agricultural innovation. As both national and worldwide consumers, we must ask if the
benefits outweigh the risks of GMOs in terms of health, environment, economy, and ethics.
Figure 1: Image of a FlavrSavr Tomato (Available from htp://inhabitat.
78 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
attack in 2009 when a study claimed that ingestion of
Bt-corn could lead to liver, kidney, and heart damage in
The results were dismissed by food safety
authorities, who cited natural variation as the cause.
However, this is neither the first nor the last time the
safety of GMOs will be contested.
Health and Safety Issues
The fact remains that GM crops could be potentially
harmful to human health. In 2000, a genetically engineered
feed corn known as Starlink corn contaminated many
corn-based processed foods. Starlink, which was
not approved for human consumption, reportedly
caused allergic reactions among many consumers,
raising concerns about the safety of producing GMOs.
Numerous research projects spanning several
decades claim that biotechnology is no riskier than
conventional planting methods, which are also subject
to contamination. In fact, GMOs might even be safer,
as antibiotic-producing plants could resist potentially
deadly Escherichia coli breakouts.
opponents are still worried about the possible toxic
effects of GMOs on the human body, especially
concerning the growth hormone use in the milk industry.
One of the largest biotech food companies, Monsanto,
injects dairy cows with the bovine growth hormone
known as recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH).
rBGH is used in a third of cows nationwide, and
increases milk production by as much as 15% – a great
benefit to American farmers. But its use is banned in 15
European nations as well as in Canada. Health Canada
cites the issue of safety in both humans and cows, as
cows injected with rBGH show higher levels of insulin-
like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a tumor-inducing substance.
In addition, a report conducted by Monsanto itself
shows that some rats fed with rBGH absorbed it into
their bloodstream, suggesting a similar and potentially
toxic effect in humans.
Although the Food and Drug
Administration of the United States of America (USA)
claims that the hormone is safe for cows and humans, a
long-term study on the possible toxicity of rBGH has yet
to be conducted. However, before this has been carried
out, distrust in GM animals injected with hormones has
led many consumers to switch to organic milk.
Worldwide Benefits
But, biotechnology holds promising applications on a
global scale, which cannot be ignored. GM crops have
great potential in alleviating world hunger, as scientists
have found new ways to make plants more nutritious
and easier to grow. “Golden Rice” is a new breed of
rice containing genes from daffodils and bacterium,
which produce vitamin A. Set to be released in 2013,
this could lower the malnutrition rates in citizens of third-
world countries, who often lack essential vitamins.
addition to providing more nutrition, GM organisms
could possibly be used as edible vaccines in third-world
countries that need vaccines but lack the resources and
medical workers to distribute them. Harmless pathogen
genes inserted into foods like bananas and potatoes
would enter the patient’s digestive tract, allowing them
to develop immunity to diseases including malaria and
measles. While normal vaccination procedures require
refrigeration, syringes, and needle sterilization, foods
incorporated with medicines are easily distributable and
could prevent millions of deaths in vulnerable areas like
the African Congo.
Advances in GMO Animals
Although genetically modified livestock remains a
controversial topic, scientists are finding innovative
ways to utilize this technology. In recent years, USA’s
Agricultural Department has been experimenting with
cows and pigs to produce disease-resistant livestock
and leaner meat, which would be beneficial to both
farmers’ wallets and consumers’ waistlines. In the latest
advancement, scientists at Aqua Bounty Technologies
have combined genes from Chinook salmon and
ocean pout fish to create a breed of salmon that
grows twice as fast as normal salmon [Figure 2].

Since faster production leads to cheaper market prices,
more Americans will be able to afford this fish that
supplies heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Phosphorus in livestock manure has always been a
problem in the farming industry, as it contaminates the
run-off and pollutes nearby rivers and lakes. Recently,
researchers are experimenting with transferring enzyme-
producing genes from bacteria into pigs.
genes allow the pigs to digest more phosphorous and
thus produce less toxic manure. This would reduce
the number of fish killed as a result of algal blooms, a
harmful by-product of conventional farming methods.
Economic and Environmental Effects
Genetically modified plants can translate to less
pesticide and fertilizer usage in the agricultural industry,
as GMOs produce their own insect repellents and
growth hormones. Moreover, a recent study published
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 79
About the Author
Karen Wang is currently a senior at Lynbrook High School in San Jose, California. She is studying computer science,
statistics, Japanese, physics, economics, and contemporary literature. As hobbies, she participates in the Japanese
Honour Society, Women in Science, Aikido, and Character Design clubs at school. She also enjoys watching anime
and reading TIME Magazine. In addition to her studies in biology and chemistry, Michael Pollan’s books such as The
Omnivore’s Dilemma and The Botany of Desire first sparked her interest in biotech agriculture. In the future, she hopes
to pursue a career in either technology or engineering.
in Science magazine shows that GM corn [Figure 3] has
benefitted American farmers with US$ 6.9 million since
its introduction.
This is not surprising, as the genetically
modified corn produces its own pesticides which results
in less crop damage. Yet, opponents cite the various
ways that GMOs could harm the environment. Pesticide-
producing plants could kill beneficial insects such as
ladybugs. Introducing disease-resistant crops might
inadvertently create new, mutated super-viruses. Also,
cross-pollination between wild plants could generate
invincible weeds, such as the 1998 case where bio-
engineered canola from a Canadian farm spread into
the wild, requiring four herbicides to finally kill it.
GMOs escape into the wild and spread undesirable
genes to their wild counterparts, it could possibly cause
the extinction of other native species. Therefore, while
biotech foods can reduce pollution and lower costs for
farmers, they must be strictly regulated to ensure that
GMO genes do not spread into the wild.
Through the ever-expanding field of genetic research,
scientists have discovered how to insert, replace, and
combine DNA in a plant or animal to produce useful
traits and eliminate undesirable ones. GMOs can help to
lower global hunger and disease mortality rates, reduce
environmental pollution, and increase farmers’ income.
However, they also pose health and safety risks, and are
potentially harmful to the environment, so the production
and distribution of GMOs must be tightly regulated. For
example, policy-makers should require studies on the
long-term side effects of GMO foods before approving
them for the market.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we must face
the moral dilemma of such a technology – are humans
justified in altering an organisms’ most intimate
characteristic, its genetic code? In the future, will
research extend beyond plants and animals to humans
as well? One answer remains clear: As we continue
to progress in all fields of science, we must uphold
responsibility and consider the consequences of each
technological advancement.
1. Hosansky D. Biotech foods. CQ Researcher 2001;11:249-
72. Available from:
cqresrre2001033000. [Last accessed on 2012 Apr 5].
2. Genetically Modified Food. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia,
2011. Available from:
modified_food. [Last accessed 2011 Aug 24].
3. Pollack A. “Without U.S. Rules, Biotech Food Lacks Investors.” The
New York Times, 30 July 2007, New York ed., A1 sec. Web. 23
Aug. 2011. Available from:
washington/30animal.html. [Last accessed on 2012 Apr 5].
Figure 2: Image of salmon genetcally engineered to grow twice as fast
as normal (Available from htp://
Figure 3: Image of Bt-corn (Available from htp://www.ipm.iastate.
80 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by
Natural Selection
• When Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands in
1833, he discovered that there were several
different species of finches, all closely related but
with different sorts of beaks. Each type of finch
was found on a different island with different food
sources, and their beaks were seemingly adapted
to those different food sources. These finches
were the basis of Darwin’s evidence of natural
selection [Figures 1 and 2].
Applying Darwin’s Theory to Drug
Resistance in Bacteria
• In a colony of bacteria, a few individuals will have
a natural resistance to an antibiotic drug caused
by random genetic mutation. When an antibiotic
such as penicillin is used, some of the bacteria
will survive as a result of this resistance.
• When the surviving bacteria breed, they will
pass on their property of resistance to the next
generation of bacteria.
• This means that more and more of the bacteria
will have a resistance to the drug [Figure 3].
Dangers of Drug Resistance in
• Having drug resistance in bacteria is dangerous
because it means infections are a lot harder to
• It also means that the bacteria can spread more
easily in ideally sterile environments, such as
• One of the worst problems is that as bacteria
become more resistant, you need to give them
stronger doses of antibacterial drugs to kill them
off – some people do not realize this and use
weaker doses to treat already resistant bacteria,
which just gives them a stronger resistance by
means of the selection process.
• Antibacterial drugs are also sometimes mistakenly
used against viruses, which have no effect on
the viruses and instead make bacteria in the
surrounding body more resistant to that type of
Case Study: Klebsiella pneumoniae
• In August 2000, at Tisch Hospital in New York,
a bacterium called Klebsiella pneumoniae
was found that was resistant to almost every
Evolution of drug resistance
in bacteria
Review Article
Jake Shepher d-Bar r on
The King's School, Canterbury, UK. E-mail:
DOI: ***
This article explains the evolutionary mechanisms behind bacterial resistance to drugs. It
uses Klebsiella pneumoniae, rod-shaped bacteria found in human and animal flora of the
mouth, skin, and intestines, as an example of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 81
meaningful antibiotic Tisch Hospital had.

The only drug it was sensitive to was colistin,
which had been abandoned as a treatment
because of its potential to damage the kidneys
[Figure 4].
• K. pneumoniae can survive in water and on
inanimate objects. As humans, we can carry it
on our skin and in our noses and throats, but it
is most often found in our feces, and this is the
most common method of infection in intensive
care units.
• Klebsiella bacteria have a sugary coat, which
makes it difficult for white blood cells to engulf
them in order to destroy them.
• K. pneumoniae does not usually harm healthy
people, but people who have conditions such as
liver disease or severe diabetes, or those who are
recovering from major surgery, are more likely to
fall ill from a K. pneumoniae infection.
• The bacteria can travel deep into the lungs where
they destroy the alveoli, resulting in hemorrhages.
Klebsiella can also attach to the urinary tract
Figure 4: Klebsiella pneumoniae (Available from http://upload.
Figure 3: Antbiotc resistance as a result of natural selecton (Available
from htp://
Figure 1: Antbiotc test plate containing Staphylococcus aureus (Available
Figure 2: Darwin’s fnches (Available from htp://upload.wikimedia.
82 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
About the Author
Jake is 16 and is a student of The King’s School, Canterbury, in England. He enjoys all three sciences as well as maths,
and hopes to become a veterinarian later in life. Jake is not particularly into sports, although he does love non-competitive
swimming, skiing, and water skiing. Jake also enjoys reading as well as the natural world (birds, insects, etc.), having
grown up in the countryside. He also plays the violin and piano.
and infect the kidneys. When the bacteria get
into a person’s bloodstream, they release a
fatty substance known as an endotoxin, which
damages the lining of the blood vessels and can
cause a fatal shock.
Other Bacteria that are Resistant to
Drugs [Figures 5 a-d]
• Salmonella
• Escherichia coli
• Staphylococcus aureus
• Streptococcus
• Enterococcus
• Pseudomonas aeruginosa
• Clostridium difficile
• Acinetobacter baumannii
1. Woodford N, Tierno PM Jr, Young K, Tysall L, Palepou MF,
Ward E,et al. Outbreak of Klebsiella pneumoniae producing
a new carbapenem-hydrolyzing class A β-lactamase, KPC-3,
in a New York Medical Center.Antimicrob Agents Chemother
Figure 5a: Salmonella
Figure 5c: Enterococcus_histological_pneumonia
Figure 5b: Escherichia coli
Figure 5d: Clostridium difcile
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 83
The truth behind animal testing
ABSTRACT For many, animal testing invokes an image of some large cosmetic company applying
undeveloped products to unsuspecting creatures, regardless of the consequences.
However, the fact is that animal testing plays a vital role in industries and research such
as in the first stages of pharmaceutical trials. In many cases, models and cell samples
are just not as good as whole organisms. There is still a great deal of disagreement
over whether animal testing should take place and to what extent. Some of the current
viewpoints are represented in the following article.
Shany Sun
School: Lynbrook High, CA, USA. E-mail:
DOI: ***
strict regulations which govern animal care. While
alternatives to animal research exist, these do not
provide researchers with as much useful information
as vivisection.
Many organizations, such as the People for the
Ethical Treatment of Animals, actively condemn
the cruel treatment of animals in medical research.
However, the National Institute of Health (NIH) and
the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have strict
regulations for animal testing. The NIH funds over
half of the medical research conducted in the US

and regularly visits research facilities to ensure that
staff are following animal care regulations. The USDA
surveys the total number of animals being used for
research and how many of these animals experience
pain. According to them, only 6% of animals being
tested experience pain.
The Animal Welfare Act of
1966 is one of the laws that regulates animal care in
Upon learning that he won the Nobel Prize for medicine
for his organ transplant research, Dr. Joseph Murray
said, ‘None of this could have been done without
animal experimentation. It is a tragedy and a waste
of resources that scientists have to combat the
Controversy surrounding
animal testing first started in the 17
century, when
physiologist Edmund O’Meara and his supporters
argued, ‘the benefit to humans (does) not justify
the harm to animals.’
However, on the other side,
Claude Bernard, known as the ‘father of vivisection,’

argued thus: ‘experiments on animals … are entirely
conclusive for the toxicology and hygiene of man…
the effects of these substances are the same on
man as on animals, save for difference in degree.’

Although many people are against animal testing
for medical and drug research, I believe animal
testing is necessary because there has been a lot of
medical knowledge gained from this experimentation.
Animal rights activists protest against the inhumane
treatment of animals, but animals in research facilities
are actually treated quite well, in accordance with the
84 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
research and exhibitions. This act is enforced by the
USDA and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection
Service. Groups such as the Use Committee and
Animal Care were formed through this act. They aim
to guarantee that allowing facilities to test substances
on animals is a last resort, to be condoned only
after other methods have failed or been deemed
unsuitable. These committees are also responsible
for providing the animals with medical care and good
living conditions whilst undergoing experimentation.
Animal testing protesters make it seem as though
animals are being treated badly on a regular basis,
but in reality cases of mistreatment are rare. Tom
Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council,
states, ‘Information about the true extent of animal
research – and its benefits for humans and animals
alike – deserves to be heard above the bullhorns and
protest signs.’
Animal research makes it possible for new drugs
and vaccines to be developed, benefiting both
animals and humans. For example, one of the most
famous cases of animal experimentation is Louis
Pasteur’s chicken cholera experiment. Pasteur
[Figure 1] acquired some of the cholera bacteria
and infected some chickens with it. His assistant,
Charles Chamberland, was supposed to inject
the chickens with the bacteria again while Pasteur
was on holiday, but Chamberland did not follow
Pasteur’s instructions and went on vacation himself.
When they came back, the month-old bacteria were
injected in the chickens, but instead of making the
chickens sicker, the chickens recovered completely
from their disease.
Pasteur then created a weaker
strain of anthrax in 1881 in hopes of recreating
the results of the cholera experiment
and found
that the same method worked, thus finding the
vaccine for both cholera and anthrax. Some other
medical advancements that have been discovered
through animal testing include penicillin, blood
transfusions, insulin (that controls blood sugar levels
of diabetics), kidney transplants, and vaccines for
polio and meningitis.
Over 160 drugs and vaccines
discovered by animal testing have been developed
and approved by the U.S. Food and Agriculture
Almost every cure or vaccine that
is known today is associated with animal testing.
Cures for animals have been discovered, too.
For example, vaccines for rabies, anthrax, feline
leukemia, and canine parvo virus have been found.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services, animal testing has helped increase
human life by 23.5 years.
Tissue culture [Figure 2] and computer modeling
are two examples of the alternatives that scientists
can use. These could be used to replace animal
testing, but (as I have already asserted) they do
not provide as much information as animal testing.
Tissue culture is a process where scientists take live
tissue from a human or animal, and they test the
chemical on that tissue. The problem with this type
of testing is that it only shows the reactions of that
group of tissues. Therefore, tissue culture tests do
not show full-body reactions. Computer modeling
is where scientists use a computer program to test
a chemical. However, the information that scientists
enter is based only on assumptions. Furthermore,
Figure 1: Louis Pasteur [Available from htp://
Figure 2: Tissue culture [Available from htp://
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 85
the reactions are the same every time the chemical
is tested because the input is the same every time.
Computer modeling does not show how a living
body would react to the test. According to the John
Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing,
scientists say we simply do not yet understand the
complexities of the human body well enough to be
able to design suitable non-animal alternatives.
the other hand, Russell and Burch’s ‘The Principles
of Humane Experimental Techniques’
lists the
‘Three R’s’ of animal testing: reduction, replacement,
and refinement. These three principles can be used
to improve the animals’ conditions. For example,
scientists can reduce the amount of animals used
in research while gaining the same amount of
information. They can replace animals when it is
possible to, like what the Use Committee and Animal
Care groups do. Finally, researchers can refine their
methods by minimizing pain for animals and giving
them better living conditions.
Animal testing is one topic that many people do
not understand. It is thought that the animals are
being harmed and therefore animal testing is bad.
But what these people do not appreciate is that
animal testing has significantly benefited medical
research; animals are not treated cruelly in the
majority of cases and the alternatives are not as
desirable. Many protesters will be holding up signs
and yelling, ‘Stop testing now!’ every time a new
research facility is constructed, but I believe we
should follow the lead of Pro-Test, an Oxford-based
group that is standing up for animal research and
science. In the future, more and more vaccines will
be developed, resulting in the treatment of more
and more diseases. As Jocelyn Elders, former US
Surgeon General, explains, ‘The use of animals in
biomedical research and testing has been, and will
continue to be, absolutely critical to the progress
against AIDS and a wide range of other applications
in both humans and animals.’
1. Animal Rights.: West’s Encyclopedia of American Law. 2005. Available from: http://www.encyclopedia.
com. [Last Accessed on 2012 May 14].
2. Ryder RD. Animal revolution: Changing attitudes towards
speciesism. Oxford, England: Berg Publishers; 2000. p. 54.
3. Vivisection: When Man Turns Monster La Vivisection - Dissection
Animale. Available from:
vivisection/vivisection-gb.htm. [Last Accessed on 2012 May 14].
4. LaFollette H, Niall S. Animal Experimentation: The Legacy of
Claude Bernard. University of California, San Diego. Available
Bernard.htm. [Last Accessed on 2012 May 14].
5. Fact Sheet: Primates in Biomedical Research. California
Biomedical Research Association. Available from: http://ca- [Last
Accessed on 2012 May 14].
6. Kanade S. Animal Testing Statistics., 17 Oct. 2011.
Available from:
statistics.html. [Last Accessed on 2012 May 14].
7. Still T. Animal Testing: Beyond the Protests, Instances of
Mistreatment Are Rare. WTN News. WTN News, 21 Nov. 2005.
Available from: [Last
Accessed on 2012 May 14].
8. Sternberg GM. A Textbook of Bacteriology. New York: William
Wood and Company; 1901. p. 278-9.
9. Louis P. History Learning Site. Available from: http://www. [Last Accessed on
2012 May 14].
10. RDS and Coalition for Medical Progress. Medical Advances and
Animal Research. RDS and Coalition for Medical Progress; 2007.
11. Boerner P. Animal research: How it benefits both humans and
animals. California Veterinary Medical Association. Available
from: [Last Accessed
on 2012 May 14].
12. PCRM Opposes Animal Research. Physician Scam. The Physicians
Committee for Responsible Medicine. Available from: http:// [Last Accessed on
2012 May 14].
13. FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). Johns Hopkins Bloomberg
School of Public Health. Available from: http://altweb.jhsph.
edu/resources/faqs.html. [Last Accessed on 2012 May 14].
14. Three Rs. Animal Ethics Infolink. A NSW Department of Primary
Industries and Animal Research Review Panel Initiative.
Available from: [Last
Accessed on 2012 May 14].
15. Research Facts: Quotations. Partners In Research. Available
research-facts/. [Last Accessed on 2012 May 14].
About the Author
Shany Sun is currently a junior at Lynbrook High in San José, California. She is currently taking AP Biology and has
found the class highly interesting and engaging.
86 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
Original Research
Bringing back Betzuca
Torrentto life: The bird
cages project
A group of Spanish students observe birds in Betzuca Torrent and accordingly set up
nesting boxes.
Eva Cr espo, Neus Fi gol s, Anna Junyent , El ena Di bar bour e, Kat her i ne Mor el ,
Mar t a Díaz, Mar Fer nández, Mar t a Sabat é, Sal l at yel Car val ho, Al ber t Sot o
IES Sant Quirze, Sant Quirzedel Vallès, Barcelona, Spain. E-mail:
DOI: ***
One year ago, a group of 15-year-old students
started a project with the following aims: To increase
their knowledge about the natural system of the
Galliners Hills and the Betzuca Torrent, to encourage
their interest in nature, and to defend the town
The relevance of this project comes from the fact that
it is impossible to defend an environment without a
deep knowledge about it. We had meetings every
Tuesday at noon with our Environmental Educator
(Neus Fígols) and our Biology and Geology teachers
(Jordi Roldán and Xavier Juan). During the first
sessions, we learnt about the ecological importance
of the Galliners Hills as a biological connector
between two Natural Parks, as well as its wealthy
flora and fauna; unluckily, its environmental health is
not very good. The group identified the main agents
responsible for this situation: a forest fire in 1994
and anthropic pressure (such as extensive building).
Then, we moved to the area of Betzuca Torrent to
study the SQVnatura (Sant Quitzedel Vallès Natura)
project, which is attempting to recover this fluvial
space, where long ago migrant birds used to stop
for a rest and drink water.
The first time we went to the hills we realized that the
trees were very young because of the 1994 fire. So,
many birds such as tits (Parus spilonotus), the short-
toed treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla) [Figure 1],
and the European scops owl (Otusscops) do not
have enough holes to nest in.
Our task was then to install a number of bird cages
to provide them with places to nest in and a night
shelter for the cold winter nights. We focused on
three tit species, little insectivore birds that we knew
had, in previous years, used the bird cages to nest
without problems.
We learnt how to identify the birds living in this area,
how important they are for the environment, and
how we could help with our bird cages project. We
also studied the reproductive cycle of birds in order
to decide the most suitable months to have the bird
cages hanging in the trees of the forest. Our plan
was to monitor the birds’ activity around them. We
focused mainly on physical aspects such as their
size, feathers, eggs, and excrement: all of them are
key clues in identifying signals of life around the
During our first field trips, we had to learn how to
work with the cages – how to hang them up and take
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 87
them down. We also had to decide the most suitable
places to install them. Once we had decided on their
locations, we recorded them with the help of a GPS
device and identified each one with a number. During
the breeding time (March-June), we monitored the
activity in the cages. We tried to identify the presence
of tits near the cages and we looked for excrement
on the ground. We also took notes that could provide
us with relevant information about the reproductive
habits of these birds, as well as how successful the
cages were in preserving this species in our area.
Once we had finished our first campaign, we felt very
positive about it. We learnt a lot about the tits and
the importance of their conservation for the health of
the ecosystem. We also learnt to work as a team, to
coordinate our efforts, and to be responsible with a
project that is relevant to our community.
We enjoyed working in the field, a key activity for
science, and we hope this will contribute to our
development as responsible citizens. Most of us
are continuing with this experience and a number
of new pupils have joined it this year. One of the
main problems is that we think that 1 h per week is
not enough and the fact that when the school term
finishes, our activity as a group also stops.
Tragedy in a Bird Cage – Who Killed
the Little Tit?
In September 2010, we resumed our project. We were
checking the bird cages [Figure 2] and describing
what we found inside. We had already checked two
bird cages that contained spectacular bird nests
when we found a big surprise in the third one.
When we opened the door, we found a cadaver
amongst the materials that birds used for building the
nest. We could clearly see the skeleton of a little bird
Figure 4: The spider
Figure 1: Short-toed treecreeper [from htp://
File:Boomkruiper1reversed.jpg] Figure 2: Checking the bird nests
Figure 3: The bird’s skeleton
88 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
[Figure 3]. It was well exposed in a corner of the nest,
just waiting for a forensic examination. We took some
pictures of the scene and removed the nest for a future
exhibition.When we were cleaning the bird cage to hang
it up again, one of us screamed in panic, as people not
familiarized with arachnids usually do when they see
one of them. There it was! A spider of considerable size
appeared and disappeared again intermittently while
we were waiting patiently armed with a small defensive
branch [Figure 4]. Finally, we saw it going out of the
cage toward the protection of the ground. We took
pictures of the spider and started hypothesizing about
the dramatic death of the little bird in its bird cage.
About the Author
Eva Crespo likes playing sports, reading and walking in the forest. She wants to be a scientist in the future.
Jordi Roldán likes sports, music and nature; he wants to be a science teacher.
Anna Junyent loves music, nature, and writes some stories for her school. She wants to be a film director.
Marta Sabaté loves music and she has always wanted to be a teacher.
We then did some research using the picture of the
spider as a clue to try and identify it. We found a
candidate (Hygrolycosa rubrofasciata) that we knew
was a poisonous spider often found in this habitat.
We think the spider killed the little bird, but we
want you to bring forward new information, new
hypotheses, and new evidence we should look for
to close the case of ‘the little bird found dead in a
bird cage.’
You can see a video of the spider at http://www.
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 89
Stomata are tiny pores found on the epidermis of the
leaf, surrounded by guard cells.
Their main function
is gas exchange
for photosynthesis and respiration.
The development of stomata on the leaves of a
plant is determined by interaction between different
genes and environmental factors. A few studies have
been conducted in order to establish a relationship
between stomatal densities and given environmental
factors. Research has shown that stomatal densities
are controlled by environmental conditions during leaf
development, but are fixed after the leaf matures.
The article “The influence of light on stomatal density
of a tomato” by A. P. Gay and R. G. Hurd describes
their findings that plants grown under high light
intensity have more stomata per 1 mm
than plants
grown under low light intensity.
The purpose of my investigation is to determine
whether there is a correlation between the light
intensity and the stomatal density on lavender leaves
and whether the initial height of the plants influences
the stomatal densities. The hypothesis is that an
increase in the light intensity will lead to an increase
in the stomatal density of the lavender leaf.
Materials and Methods
• Four plant pots with soil
• Rooting hormone
• Lavender plant
The effect of light intensity
on the stomatal density of
lavender, Lavandula angustifolia
Original Research
Yoana Pet r ova
City of Bristol College, Bristol, UK. E-mail:
DOI: ???
The first aim of this investigation was to find whether there is a significant correlation
between the stomatal density of lavender plants and the light intensity under which
they are grown. The second aim of the investigation was to find out whether the initial
height of the plant influences its stomatal density. Cuttings were taken from lavender
plants to ensure that all the plants were genetically identical and that the only changes
occurring in the stomatal density would be due to environmental conditions. Four cuttings
were short (3 cm initial height) and four were tall (6 cm initial height). The cuttings were
put under compact fluorescent light bulbs with four different power ratings (8, 11, 14,
and 20 W). One short and one tall cutting were put under each of the four light bulbs
for 28 days in order to grow them. Both the short and the tall plants showed a positive
correlation between their stomatal densities and the light intensity. The correlation was
statistically significant at a 0.025 significance level according to the Pearson product-
moment correlation test. The short and the tall plants grown under the same light intensity
did not show any statistically significant difference between their stomatal densities.
90 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
Figure 1: The wooden box with the separatons and the light bulbs
Figure 2: Nail polish impression of stomata (htp://
polish off the leaf. This is the leaf impression you
will examine.
15. Put the leaf impression on a clean microscope
slide and put a cover slip over the leaf impression.
16. Put the prepared slide on a lit microscope stage.
17. Observe t he l eaf i mpressi on under l ow
18. Adjust the light, the fine and coarse focus until a
clear image of the leaf can be seen.
19. Change to a higher magnification of about 640×;
stomata should appear, looking like tiny pores on
the leaf [Figure 2].
20. Count the stomata present in the field view at
640× magnification for short and tall plants
grown at the same light intensity and different
light intensities.
21. Record your results in a table.
22. You require 10 readings for each short and
tall plant grown under the same light intensity.
This will ensure you have enough data when
performing the Mann–Whitney test to look for
significant difference in stomatal density between
short and tall plants grown under the same light
• Sterilized scissors
• Clear plastic bags
• Four fluorescent lamps of power ratings 8, 11,
14, and 20 W
• Wooden box with four separate sections; the box
dimensions are 0.5 m height by 1.0 m width
• Microscope
• Cover slips and microscope slides
• Nail polish and cellophane tape
• White correction fluid
• Cellophane tape
1. Take cuttings from a single lavender plant. Use
sterilized scissors and cut the branches of the
lavender plant at an angle of 45°.
2. Take eight cuttings in a way that four of them
should be with an initial height of 3 cm (short
plants) and four of them with an initial height of
6 cm (tall plants).
3. Dip the cut end of the cutting in a root hormone
and place it in a pot containing soil. Place one
short and one tall plant in a single flowerpot. Put
a clear plastic bag, with a few holes in it, over the
pot. Place the four flowerpots near the window,
so that they are exposed to sunlight.
4. Water the plants every day, but not directly in the
pot. Put the water in a small tray below the pot.
5. Keep the plants for 2 weeks before they develop
roots. You can check whether roots have been
developed by gently pulling the plant. Resistance
when pulling indicates that roots have developed.
6. After the two initial weeks have passed, remove
the plastic bags from the plant pots.
7. Place the flowerpots in a wooden box with four
separate sections. Each of the four sections
should be illuminated by a fluorescent light bulb
of different power [Figure 1].
8. Leave only four old leaves on each plant and put
a tiny correction fluid dot on them to mark them.
9. Switch the lights on for an average of 12 h each
day. Water the plants with the same volume of
water each time. Keep the plants under the lights
for 28 days or until new leaves develop.
10. Collect all the new leaves formed under the light
11. Paint a thick patch (few millimeters) of nail polish
on the lower epidermis of each leaf.
12. Allow the nail polish to dry completely.
13. Tape a piece of clean cellophane tape to the dried
nail polish patch.
14. Gently peel the nail polish patch from the leaf by
pulling on a corner of the tape and “peeling” the
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 91
Table 1: Results showing stomatal densites for both short and tall lavenders under diferent light intensites
Light intensity
Inital height
Stomata under 640× Average stomata
Stomatal density
in 1 mm
8 Short 6 7 7 9 9 8 8 7 8 7 7.6 275
Tall 8 6 8 7 9 7 8 9 7 9 7.8 283
11 Short 13 14 11 12 12 10 11 11 10 11 11.5 417
Tall 10 11 13 12 11 11 12 11 12 11 11.4 413
14 Short 15 14 15 16 15 16 14 15 16 14 15.0 544
Tall 14 15 15 16 16 17 15 16 15 14 15.3 554
20 Short 19 18 19 18 17 20 19 18 18 18 18.4 667
Tall 18 18 19 18 19 18 17 22 19 19 18.7 678
23. Plot a graph of light intensity on the x-axis against
stomatal density on the y-axis for the short plants
and tall plants separately.
24. To calculate the stomatal density, which is number
of stomata in a given area (e.g. 1 mm
), you must
first find the microscope field view.
25. To find the field view, place a clear plastic ruler
under low magnification (e.g. 40×).
26. Count the millimeter spaces you can see at that
this is the diameter of the field
view at 40´ magnification.
27. To calculate field view at 640´ magnification, use
the formula:
high power field of view
low power magnification
low power field of view high power magnification

28. The field view under high magnification gives you
the diameter of the field view.
To calculate the area, use the formula:
Area =
, where “d” is the diameter of the field
In the investigation, there are variables that should be
kept as controls because otherwise they may affect
the investigation. The volume of water that the plants
receive and how often they are watered can easily
be controlled. Other confounding variables such as
carbon dioxide concentration can be controlled in
laboratory conditions only. However, in the experiment
I conducted, carbon dioxide concentration would not
be expected to vary a great deal.
Using the described method, the following results
were collected [Table 1] and underwent statistical
analysis (below).
Pearson’s correlation coefficient
• 0.978 for short plants
• 0.979 for tall plants
Mann–Whitney U test
• 8 W/m
, U = 44.0
• 11 W/m
, U = 48.0
• 14 W/m
, U = 41.5
• 20 W/m
, U = 51.5
In order to establish a correlation between the
independent and the dependent variables, Pearson
product-moment correlation was used for both the
short and the tall plants. The null hypothesis is
that there is no statistically significant correlation
between the l i ght i ntensi ty and the stomatal
density on plants. To reject the null hypothesis,
the calculated value for Pearson’s correlation
coefficient must be greater than the critical value.

The critical value for four sets of data at a 0.025
significant level is 0.9500.
The values for the
Pearson’s correlation coefficient for the tall and
the short plants are both greater than the critical
value; therefore, the null hypothesis can be rejected
at a 0.025 significant level. Therefore, there is a
correlation between the stomatal density and the
light intensity. The correlation is positive as can be
seen from Figures 3a and b.
When trying to explain the correlation, it is important
to consider what stomata are in the first place and
what their most important functions are. Stomata are
tiny pores
found on the epidermis of the plants and
their main role is gas exchange between the leaf and
the environment. Although stomatal development
is essentially controlled by different genes, the
environment also has a significant effect on stomatal
Using plants that are clones in the
investigation means that they all have the same
genetic material and any changes in stomatal density
on their leaves should be due to environmental
92 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12
Both light intensity and carbon dioxide
concentration have been shown to influence the
frequency at which stomata develop on the leaves
of plants.
Plants can respond to changes in
environmental conditions by changing their stomatal
frequency. Recent research has shown that signals
from older leaves can influence the development of
stomata on the younger leaves.
In that way, if the
environmental conditions to which the older leaves
are exposed change, then the younger leaves can
increase or decrease their stomatal density; this
physiological adaptation can help the plant cope with
the changing environment.
Why is the increased light intensity leading to
increased stomatal density? Photosynthesis is the
process by which plants synthesize glucose from
carbon dioxide and water. The energy of the reaction
is supplied by the sunlight. However, there are two
main stages in photosynthesis – light-dependent
and light-independent stages.
The light-dependent
stage depends on the light because the energy
from the light is used to split water in the process of
photolysis and excite electrons in the chlorophyll.
The products from the light-dependent stage
are ATP and the electron acceptor – reduced
The products from the light-dependent
stage are fed into the light-independent stage of
photosynthesis, the Calvin cycle.
Carbon dioxide
is fixed in the light-independent stage and converted
to glucose; in the Calvin cycle, the products of
the light-dependent stage are needed. So, more
ATP and reduced NADP will result in an increased
rate of carbon fixation. If the rate of carbon fixation
increases, the rate at which carbon dioxide diffuses
in and out of the leaf will increase.
The light intensity is simply the energy per second
per unit area carried by the incident light and it is
proportional to the number of photons per second
carried by the incident light.
Higher light intensity
means more photons per second resulting in more
electrons per second that would be excited during the
light-dependent stage of photosynthesis, and more
ATP and reduced NADP are produced. Therefore,
increasing the light intensity will increase the overall
rate of photosynthesis. The rate of gas exchange will
increase as a result.
Coming back to the main function of the stomata,
increasing the rate of gas exchange may lead to
increased stomatal density on the epidermis of the
leaf. The adaptation leads to higher carbon dioxide
assimilation as the results of recent studies have
However, the energy of the incident light arriving per
second is also proportional to the wavelength of
the light. Therefore, the light intensity depends on
the light wavelength. Plants have combinations of
chlorophyll pigments
that absorb sunlight from the
visible spectrum. The light of wavelengths 400–500
nm and 650–700 nm
is absorbed the most. These
are blue and red light, respectively. Lavender grows
well under compact fluorescent light bulbs.
placing colored filters in front of the light bulbs, it can
be established which color of light is most suitable
for growing lavender and whether the color of light
affects the stomatal density.
To determine whether there is a statistically significant
difference between the stomatal densities on the tall
and short plants grown under the same light intensity,
Figure 3a: A graph showing stomatal density against light intensity for
the short plants
Figure 3b: A graph showing stomatal density against light intensity for
the tall plants
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12 93
the Mann–Whitney U test is used. The null hypothesis
is that there is no statistically significant difference
between the stomatal densities of the tall and the short
plants grown under the same light intensity. The null
hypothesis may be rejected if the calculated value of U
is equal to or smaller than the critical value. The critical
value for U for 10 sets of data is 16.
Looking back at
the results section, all the calculated values of U are
bigger than the critical value, so the null hypothesis is
accepted. The initial height did not seem to influence
the stomatal development in my investigation.
Stomata are tiny pores found on the epidermis of
the leaf and they are important for gas exchange
between the plants and the environment. Their
development is determined both by genes and the
environmental conditions. The investigation showed
a positive correlation, which was statistically
significant at 0.025 level between the stomatal
density on lavender plants and the light intensity.
The initial height of the plants did not seem to affect
the stomatal density and there was no statistically
significant difference between the stomatal density
on the short and the tall plants grown under the
same light intensity.
1. Swarthout D, Hogan CM. Stomata, Encyclopedia of Earth, 2010.
2. Schlüter U, Muschak M, Berger D, Altmann T. Photosynthetic
performance of Arabidopsis mutant with elevated stomatal
density under different light regimes.J Exp Bot 2003;54:867-74.
3. Gay AP, Hurd RG.The influence of light on stomatal density of
a tomato.New Phytol1974;75:37-46.
4. Biological Activities, Counting leaf stomata. Available
[Last Accessed 2010 Nov].
5. Gardner D. Measuring with a microscope, Cornell Centre for
Material Research. Available from:http://www.ccmr.cornell.
edu. [Last Accessed 2010 Nov].
6. Clegg F. The Pearson product moment correlation, Simple
statistics. Cambridge University Press;1982. p. 186-7.
7. Clegg F. Mann-Whitney U test, Simple statistics. Cambridge
University Press;1982. p. 164-6.
8. Casson S, Gray JE. Influence of environmental factors on
stomatal development. New Phytol 2008;178:9-23.
9. Fulick A. Interations between genes and the environment,
Edexcel AS Biology. Pearson Education Limited; 2008. p.188.
10. Miyazawa S, Livingston NJ, Turpin DH.Stomatal developmentin
new leaves is related to the stomatal conductance of mature
leaves in poplar (Populus trichordata x P deltoids). J Exp Bot
11. Fulick A. The biochemistry of photosynthesis, Edexcel A2
Biology. Pearson Education Limited;2008. p. 14-6.
12. Breithaupt J. More about photoelectricity. AS Physics A; 2008. p. 33.
13. Home Harvest Garden Supply, Lavender. Available from:http://[Last Accessed
2007Mar 13].
About the Author
Yoana Petrova finished college this summer and completed an A Level in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.
During her second year, she did an extended project and this is what her article is based upon. Her plans for
the future are to study Biochemistry at university and become a researcher or lecturer in biochemistry/chemistry
or biology. At the moment, she is on her gap year and is working as a pharmacy assistant. Her job allows
her to learn about the different medicines which is very interesting and could be useful in her future career.
She does many activities in her free time such as rock climbing, ice skating, snowboarding, skiing, cycling, jogging,
and reading books.
94 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 12

Have you done a project, coursework, holiday placement, presentation in
science which made you proud?
Will the files lie forgotten in your computer or USB drive?
Will your displays gather dust in a corner of your bedroom or school lab?
 Or… would you like to consider publishing it in a science journal for others to
read and for posterity? (and being a published author looks great on your CV!)
Young Scientists Journal is an online science journal, written by young scientists for
young scientists (aged 12-20). More than that, the journal is run entirely by
teenagers, including a team of students at The King’s School, Canterbury, where the
journal was founded, but including editors from all over the world. It is the only peer
review science journal for this age group, the perfect journal for aspiring scientists
like you to publish research.
Many of our authors have conducted scientific research for coursework,
competitions, holiday placements or projects, just like you. We are also keen to
receive shorter, review articles, and also other material such as news items,
competitions, videos or cartoons. It is easy to submit your contribution by
uploading it online at and we can accept submissions in a
variety of different forms, including pictures, videos and presentations.
If you would be interesting in getting more involved, and helping to run the journal,
we are actively recruiting students at the moment to our Young Scientists team,
editing articles, managing the website, graphic designing, helping with publicity.
Send an email to our Editorial Team Leader, Fiona Jenkinson:
or find out more by visiting the Young Scientists facebook page.
We look forward to publishing your article!
A message to science students about
publishing an article in:
Young Scientists online journal
YSJ Photography Competition 2013
Last Year, Young Scientists Journal decided to run a Science Photography Competition. We had a great
number of entries from Artists and Scientists alike and a number won the cash prizes. To see all of last
year’s entries, head to our website and find the link on the front page. A summary of
the highlights of the competition is included in this issue.
This year, we want to do the same thing again so keep an eye out for the next Competition starting May
2013 and in the mean time, why not suggest the themes by starting a forum on our website?
Next Issue and Upcoming Events
Our next issue will be publishing presentations given at the St. Paul’s Anglo-Japanese Science Conference
2012. It promises to contain a variety of topics including artificial photosynthesis, the conservation of sea
turtles, lift generation and many more.
This year, the conference is happening again at St. Paul’s Boys School, London on 8th March 2013 to
include Science students from Germany, Japan and the UK presenting posters and presentations.
We’re also hoping to be present at the Danish Science Exhibition, either this year or next.
Join Us On Facebook. Follow us on Twitter
One of our goals for the coming year is to improve communications in the journal.
Long term we hope to set up chat groups for authors and Editors so you can
discuss and meet young people with a common interest in Science or Media.
In the mean time, please join our Facebook page. If you find a Science subject
interesting on the Web, why not post it there for us all to see? You could find people
with common interests or who may be able to help you understand more advanced ideas.
Our team do our best to update pages and feeds with stories of interest but ultimately if you could help
us, it will make all the difference!
What is Young Scientists Journal?
Young Scientists Journal is an online science journal, written by young scientists for
young scientists (aged 12-20). More than that, the journal is run entirely by teenagers,
including a team of students in Kent, England, but involving editors from all over the
world. It is the only peer review science journal for this age group, the perfect journal
for aspiring scientists to publish research.
If you are a student wanting to submit an article, head to our website www.ysjournal.
com. It can be on any Science-related subject, be it a previous science project, original
research or opinion/knowledge that you would like to share. You can put this on your CV
or use it to contribute to awards such as D of E. To get even more involved as part of our editorial, technical
or publicity teams, contact the current Chief Editor, Fiona Jenkinson by e-mailing
Alternatively, find us on Facebook or Twitter, represent us at a Science Event or tell your friends about us
– every little helps!
Teachers can get involved by joining our International Advisory Board and encouraging students to submit
their work.
The Butrous Foundation
The foundation aims to motivate young people to pursue scientific
careers by enhancing scientific creativity and communication skills.
It aims to provide a platform for young people all over the world
(ages 12-20 years) to participate in scientific advancements and to
encourage them to express their ideas freely and creatively.
The Butrous Foundation
Butrous Foundation
The Butrous Foundation is a private foundation established in
2006. The current interest of the foundation is to fund activities
that serve its mission.
The Mission
The foundation aims to motivate young people to pursue
scientific careers by enhancing scientific creativity and
communication skills. It aims to provide a platform for young
people all over the world (ages 12-20 years) to participate in
scientific advancements and to encourage them to express their
ideas freely and creatively.
Thematic approaches to achieve the foundation mission:
1. To enhance communication and friendship between young
people all over the world and to help each other with their
scientific interests.
2. To promote the ideals of co-operation and the interchange of
knowledge and ideas.
3. To enhance the application of science and its role in global
society and culture.
4. To help young people make links with scientists in order to
take advantage of global knowledge, and participate in the
advancement of science.
5. To encourage young people to show their creativity, inspire
them to reach their full potential and to be role models for the
next generation.
6. To encourage the discipline of good science where open minds
and respect to other ideas dominate.
7. To help global society to value the contributions of young
people and enable them to reach their full potential.
Visit Young Scientists journal
The Butrous Foundation
The foundation aims to motivate young people to pursue scientifc careers
by enhancing scientifc creativity and communication skills. It aims to pro-
vide a platform for young people all over the world (ages 12-20 years) to
participate in scientifc advancements and to encourage them to express
their ideas freely and creatively.
The Butrous Foundation
The Butrous Foundation is a private foundation established in 2006.
The current interest of the foundation is to fund activities that serve
its mission.
The Mission
The foundation aims to motivate young people to pursue scientifc
careers by enhancing scientifc creativity and communication skills.
It aims to provide a platform for young people all over the world
(ages 12-20 years) to participate in scientifc advancements and to
encourage them to express their ideas freely and creatively.
Thematic approaches to achieve the foundation mission:
1. To enhance communication and friendship between young people
all over the world and to help each other with their scientifc
2. To promote the ideals of co-operation and the interchange of
knowledge and ideas.
3. To enhance the application of science and its role in global so-
ciety and culture.
4. To help young people make links with scientists in order to take
advantage of global knowledge, and participate in the advance-
ment of science.
5. To encourage young people to show their creativity, inspire them
to reach their full potential and to be role models for the next
6. To encourage the discipline of good science where open minds
and respect to other ideas dominate.
7. To help global society to value the contributions of young
people and enable them to reach their full potential,
visit Young Scientists journal
Young Scientist Journeys
Editors: Paul Soderberg and Christina Astin
This book is the first book of The Butrous foundation’s Journeys Trilogy. Young scientists of the past
talk to today’s young scientists about the future. The authors
were members of the Student Science Society in high school in
Thailand in the 1960s, and now, near their own 60s, they
share the most important things they learned about science
specifically and life generally during their own young scientist
journeys in the years since they published The SSS Bulletin, a
scientific journal for the International School Bangkok.
Reading this first book is a journey, that starts on this page
and ends on the last one, having taken you, Young Scientist, to
hundreds of amazing “places,” like nanotechnology, Song
Dynasty China, machines the length of football fields, and
orchids that detest wasps.
But the best reason to
take the journey through
these pages is that this
book will help you
prepare for all your other journeys. Some of these will be
physical ones, from place to place, such as to scientific
conferences. Others will be professional journeys, like from
Botany to Astrobiology, or from lab intern to assistant to
researcher to lab director. But the main ones, the most exciting
of all your journeys, will be into the Great Unknown. That is
where all the undiscovered elements are, as well as all other
inhabited planets and every new species, plus incredible things
like communication with dolphins in their own language, and
technological innovations that will make today’s cutting-edge
marvels seem like blunt Stone Age implements.
For further information please write to
The Butrous Foundation, which is
dedicated to empowering today the
scientists of tomorrow. This
foundation already publishes Young
Scientists Journal, the world’s first and
only scientific journal of, by, and for,
all the world’s youngsters (aged 12-
20) who want to have science careers
or want to use science in other
careers. 100% of proceeds from sales
of The Journeys Trilogy will go to the
Foundation to help it continue to
fulfill its mission to empower
youngsters everywhere.
Book Details:
Title: Young Scientist Journeys
Editors: Paul Soderberg and Christina Astin
Paperback: 332 pages
Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches, Weight: 345 grams
Publisher: The Butrous Foundation (September 26, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0956644007
ISBN-13: 978-0956644008
Retailer price: £12.45 / $19.95

The Butrous Foundation Journeys
Thirty-one years ago, Sir Peter Medawar
wrote Advice to a Young Scientist, a
wonderful book directed to university
students. The Butrous Foundation’s
J ourneys Trilogy is particularly for those
aged 12 to 20 who are inspired to have
careers in science or to use the path of
science in other careers. The three volumes
are particularly for those aged 12 to 20 who
are inspired to have careers in science or to
use the path of science in other careers. It is
to “mentor in print” these young people that
we undertook the creation and publication of
this trilogy.
Young Scientist Journeys (Volume 1)
This book
My Science Roadmaps (Volume 2)
The findings of journeys into key science
issues, this volume is a veritable treasure
map of “clues” that lead a young scientist to
a successful and fulfilling career, presented
within the context of the wisdom of the great
gurus and teachers of the past in Asia,
Europe, Africa, and the Americas.
Great Science Journeys (Volume 3)
An elite gathering of well-known scientists
reflect on their own journeys that resulted
not only in personal success but also in the
enrichment of humanity, including Akira
Endo, whose discovery as a young scientist
of statins has saved countless millions of
Table of Contents:
Introduction: The Journeys Trilogy, Ghazwan Butrous . . . 11
Chapter 1. Science is All Around You, Phil Reeves . . . 17
Chapter 2. The Beauty of Science, and The Young Scientists Journal,
Christina Astin . . . 19
Chapter 3. The Long Journey to This Book, Paul Soderberg . . . 25
Chapter 4. Dare to Imagine and Imagine to Dare, Lee Riley . . . 43
Chapter 5. How the Science Club Helped Me Become a Human Being,
Andy Bernay-Roman . . . 55
Chapter 6. Your Journey and the Future, Paul Soderberg . . . 63
Chapter 7. Engineering as a Ministry, Vince Bennett . . . 83
Chapter 8. Cold Facts, Warm Hearts: Saving Lives With Science,
Dee Woodhull . . . 99
Chapter 9. My Journeys in Search of Freedom, Mike Bennett . . . 107
Chapter 10. Insects and Artworks and Mr. Reeves, Ann Ladd Ferencz . . .
Chapter 11. Window to Endless Fascination, Doorway to Experience for
the Science Club, Kim Pao Yu . . . 129
Chapter 12. Life is Like Butterflies and Stars, Corky Valenti . . . 135
Chapter 13. Tend to Your Root, Walteen Grady Truely . . . 143
Chapter 14. Lessons from Tadpoles and Poinsettias, Susan Norlander . . .
Chapter 15. It’s All About Systems—and People, J. Glenn Morris . . . 157
Chapter 16. A Journey of a Thousand Miles, Kwon Ping Ho . . . 165
Chapter 17. The Two Keys to Making a Better World: How-Do and Can-Do,
Tony Grady . . . 185
Chapter 18. Becoming a Scientist Through the Secrets of Plants, Ellen
(Jones) Maxon . . . 195
Chapter 19. The Essence of Excellence in Everything (and the Secret of
Life), Jameela Lanza . . . 203
Chapter 20. The Families of a Scientist, Eva Raphaël . . . 211
Appendix: Lists of Articles by Young Scientists, Past and Present . . . 229
The SSS Bulletin, 1966-1970 . . . 230-237
The Young Scientists Journal, 2008-present . . . 237-241
Acknowledgements . . . 243
The Other Two Titles in the Journeys Trilogy . . . 247
Contents of Volume 2 . . . 249
Excerpt from Volume 3: A Great Scientist . . . 251
Index . . . 273
Christina Astin and Paul Soderberg