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News from the Wood

Discover how the genes of wolves and dogs differ

February 2014

Issue #1

Is space exploration good value?

Meet the new meat that could soon be landing on your plate Learn how mechanical body parts provide hope to injured people
Could diabetes research spell the end for insulin injections?


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IN THIS ISSUE: Prosthetic hand provides sense of touch..1 Who said that chocolate isnt good for you?...............3 Cheetahs race to victory..4 Is space exploration good value?.....6 Whats happening to our Earth?..................................8 Birds winging it in New York.8 Closure of forensic science service.9 Dog evolution is rubbish!..........................................10 Diabetes research gets tails wagging.12 Skin cells reprogrammed into insulin13 Koalas bellow with unique voice organ14 Meat the new cultured beef...15 Virus looking sheepish as vaccine developed...16 Giant blob of hot rock hidden under Antarctic ice...18 Vision restored thanks to robo-eye.19 Could urchins help stop global warming?.................20 Fast food?..................................................................20 Puzzles..21 Science to take home.22

- The Einstei

Writers: Alexandra Gavrilla, Anamaria Grijincu, Bhagya Leeniyago- Chief Editor: Lizzie Pengelly da, Bhavisha Pandya, Deergha Chennubotla, Deloram, Jemina Gajparia, Lisa Malki, Lizzie Pengelly, Noorpreet, Safiyah Zaman, Sarita With special thanks to: Mrs. Egan, Ms. Chesters, Mr. Mahoney and Mr. Kaye Murji, Sneha Patel, Sugra Rashid, Xheneta Tahiri, Yasmin Foley


Prosthetic Hand Provides Sense of Touch To Man Who Lost His Arm
Scientists have created a prosthetic hand that has enabled an amputee to feel objects for the first time in nine years. A man named Dennis Aabo Srensen, aged 37 from Denmark, lost his left arm in a firework accident but now with the worlds first prosthetic hand he is able to experience the sensation of touch again. He was able to feel the difference between a firm orange, a fluffy cotton ball and a hard piece of wood even while blindfolded and wearing earplugs. Researches implanted electrodes into the remaining nerves in Mr Srensens upper arm. This transmits electrical signals from the sensors on the fingers of the prosthetic hand, along the nerves and to his brain.

The prosthesis works using electronic sensors in the hand which detect tension in artificial tendons that control the movement of the fingers. This information is turned into an electrical current and a computer in the hand sends an impulse to the sensory nerves in Mr Sorensens remaining upper arm. Ultra-thin electrodes were surgically implanted into these nerves to carry the signal from the hand to his brain. However, scientists were concerned about the reduced sensitivity in the nerves because he hasnt used them for nine years. Fortunately, they were able to reactivate Mr Srensens sense of touch when he was wearing the prosthesis. It is hoped in the future that this research can be taken further into developing and creating prostheses

which enable amputees to feel objects and even temperature; so that this allows them to live unimpeded lives. By Bhagya Leeniyagoda 12BMO Find out more:http:// prosthetic-provides-sense-touch-manwho-lost-hand

Who Said That Chocolate Isnt Good For You?

Chocolate is often given bad press, but can it actually offer health benefits? According to new research from the University of Rochester Medical Centre, New York, the blue food dye that is found in Marss M&Ms could help to reduce the damage caused by spinal injuries, as well as providing an increased chance of recovery. more than 15 minutes after the injury occurred then the treatment did not work. In order to carry out a fair test, a control group was used. This control group, made up of rats that were not treated with BBG, allowed the researchers to ensure that it was the dye affecting the animals ability to move, and it not another factor.

of the damage. This sudden rush of ATP kills off healthy cells, often causing more damage than the injury itself. It was found that BBG blocks the effect of ATP, allowing Scientists discovered that when The phenomenon seems too strange the injured rats to recover from they injected the dye, a compound to be true, after all, Americans their injuries. known as Brilliant Blue munch their way through over G (BBG), into rats with paralysis 100million lbs (45million kg) of Despite these findings, it is unlikecaused by spinal injuries, the rothe BBG each year. How can such ly that BBG could have a practical dents were able to walk again. a common dye, which is also found use treating spinal injury patients. in Gatorade and many brands of While the animals didnt seem to jelly, have such a beneficial effect? "While we achieved great results recover completely, i.e. they moved when oxidized ATP was injected with a limp, the only side effect In August 2004, scientists revealed directly into the spinal cord, this was that the rats were temporarily that after a spinal injury, the chemi- method would not be practical for turned blue. The treatment also had cal Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), use with spinal cord-injured pato be administered almost immedi- which is described as the energy tients," said lead researcher Maiken ately, and if the dye was injected currency of life rushes to the site Nedergaard, professor of Neurosurgery and director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "First, no one wants to put a needle into a spinal cord that has just been severely injured, so we knew we needed to find another way to quickly deliver an agent that would stop ATP from killing healthy motor neurons. Second, the compound we initially used, oxidized ATP, cannot be injected into the bloodstream because of its dangerous side effects." By Lizzie Pengelly12AEg Find out more: HEALTH/07/28/

When injected with BBG, rats suffering from spinal injuries were able to recover. The rats were also temporarily turned blue, shown in this photograph. The dye prevents Adenosine triphosphate from harming too many healthy motor neurones, which are found in the spinal cord.

Cheetahs Race To Victory!

Cheetahs and greyhounds are two of the quickest creatures on the planet, but how do they manage to run at such an amazing pace? New research by the Royal Veterinary College has shed some light on how these incredible animals manage to run so fast. Acinonyx jubatus, or the cheetah, is the fastest land animal on the planet. These magnificent felines are capable of reaching speeds of up to 64mph, fast enough to keep up with cars racing along on a motorway! The cat uses its incredible speed to chase down prey such as antelope in its savannah habitat, however due to a high mortality rate in cubs, and the fact that they are hunted for their pelts, cheetahs have become a threatened species. pretty quick, and a combination of long, powerful legs, a deep chest, a flexible spine and a slim build mean that they are capable of reaching speeds of around 43mph. So how exactly are these animals able to run so fast, and what limits the speed that a certain animal can achieve? There are many theories that suggest that speed is limited by the amount of time it takes the animal to swing its legs (swing time), although other theories suggest that the limit is caused the forces that the animals limbs must withstand. It has also been proposed that the limit is imposed by the amount of muscular power available. (Think of it like a car. The bigger the engine, the more muscular power that is available, the faster the car, or animal, can travel.) It seems most likely that the limit is caused by a combination of all three factors.

The researchers travelled to Whipsnade Zoo, Bedfordshire, and the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre, South Africa, where they encouraged the cheetahs to get some exercise with the help of some tasty chicken and a really long piece of string! In total nine cheetahs were trained to run with the mechanical lure. The animals ran a 90m track, underneath which eight force plates were buried, and they were filmed from both sides using four A greyhound is a breed of dog. high speed video cameras. SimiDistinguishable by its long legs larly, six greyhounds were bought and slender body, like all dogs the into the Structure and Motion Lab greyhound was originally deResearchers at the Structure and by the Retired Greyhound Trust. scended from wolves. Although Motion Laboratory at the Royal The dogs were also filmed also the sighthounds are not quite as Veterinary College set out to com- chasing a mechanical lure as they speedy as cheetahs, theyre still pare swing times and limb forces ran a similar 90m track. used by the cheetah and the greyhound, and aimed to see how these factors limited the speed of some of the worlds fastest animals.

Frames from the video showing, in high definition, the gait of a cheetah.

How do YOU compare to some of the worlds speediest land animals?

Average Human 12mph/ 19kmph Usain Bolt 23mph/ 37kmph
Bengal Tiger (Panthera Tigris) 40mph / 75km/h

Greyhound 43mph / 69km/h

Note: Animals such as the cheetah may be fast, but they may not have the stamina to maintain their top speed for more than a few seconds. In a long

tive rather than wild, they did not really have a reason to reach their top speeds, as they did not need to chase live prey. Despite this problem, the researchers discovered many things about the gaits of both animals. One of the major differences between the two species were the number of strides per second. Cheetahs used a range of stride frequencies, between 2.4 and 3.2 strides per second, whereas greyhounds used a constant stride frequency of 3.5. Cheetahs increased their stride frequency when they ran faster, so as they used 3.2 strides per second when running at about 40mh, it is likely that they can actually do much better than that, probably beating the greyhounds 3.5. The combination of this and a longer stride length may be what allows the cats to be so speedy compared to Unfortunately for the study, the the hounds. The researchers also scientists were unable to get the discovered that both animals supcheetahs to run much faster than port more of their bodyweight the hounds, and both species with their hindlimbs than their achieved top speeds of around 40mph. As the cheetahs were cap- forelimbs, contrasting with the Two slow motion video clips, showing in great detail the gaits of cheetahs and greyhounds were produced. To view these, go to Projects/CheetahGalloping.cfm . It was seen that cheetahs and greyhounds use a similar rotary gallop, where the limbs fall in a circular sequence around the body. There are two flight phases (times in a gait when the animal is completely off of the ground), one where the animals had their limbs tucked up into the body, and another where the limbs were extended. While the gaits of both cheetahs and greyhounds were quite close, cheetahs tended to have a longer tucked up aerial phase than the greyhound, which enabled them to have a longer stride than the dogs.

traditional view that it is the forelimbs that carry the most weight. The cheetahs carried 70% of their bodyweight in their hind legs, compared to greyhounds, which carry slightly less, 62%. Supporting themselves mainly in their back limbs helps the animals to grip and manoeuvre about, a useful gift to have if youre chasing antelope or rabbits, which tend to dart about to confuse their predators. Want to learn more about how cheetahs outpace their canine friends? Go to: content/215/14/i.1 or content/215/14/2425.abstract . By Lizzie Pengelly - 12AEg

American Quarter Horse (Equus ferus eaballus) 55mph / 88km/h

Pronghorn Antelope (Antilocapra Americana) 62mph / 100km/h

Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus) 45mph / 72km/h

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) 64mph / 102kmph

distance race, the horse would be most likely to win, as they can keep a fast pace for quite a long time.

Is Space Exploration Good Value?

living in. They also think that exploring and finding fascinating facts about other planets such as Venus and Mars shows us not only how the climates of planets can change .Many believe it shows us how special our planet is you have got to admit all of us take the planet for granted sometimes, dont we? Wouldnt you like to know if there was other living organisms in other planets- you could be their pen pal and maybe even visit them and vice versa. Now you may start doubting BUT dont get too excited as yourself, is space exploration scientists have already found actually any value? There are many people who think it is and out that Mars consists of mainly one of the main reasons to why carbon dioxide and so there can they think this is it widens our be no life on it. Well, I know that is very sad news but not to knowledge of how to protect our world but also it gives us a worry because with space exploration we can explore other better understanding of our complicated world that we are planets maybe we`ll have Have you ever wondered about going into space ?Well, of course that would be something that interests nearly all of us but if we want to travel to space we first have to explore space as we need to know if us as humans can survive in those conditions. The only negative aspect about space exploration is that it costs so much and many people dont see how this benefits Earth. some luck on other planets! Do you want to be the next famous scientist or the next successful surgeon? Well, many believe that space exploration leads and influences the younger generation to become doctors, surgeons etc, for example the Apollo missions inspired an entire generation of students. Dont you think sometimes we spend too much on Facebook and excitedly waiting to see how many people are following us on Twitter? Well, space exploration will make sure that technology will continue developing although Im not so sure our mums twill think that thats such a great idea...

Never say Impossible! Space exploration brings together the smartest people and they sit which are set impossible missions and some are successful whereas some fail miserably but its better to try and fail than to give up! Dont you ever wonder How did life being or How did the universe begin. Well what we dont recognize is that without space exploration we will never be able to figure the answer to this question. By the fact that we ask these complex and philosophical questions it just shows how smart we are. In the words of Carl Sagan We are starstuff contemplating the stars. Others disagree with the fact that we should be exploring other planets when there are things about our planet that are yet to be explored ,its a bit like you wanting to know what your friends grade is when you dont know yours. Is that logical? Many people say that we should fully explore our own planet because the seabed, especially around volcanic regions, is mainly unexplored and so is the Antarctica. Many people use the phrase A commercial space industry is taking over meaning that even if space exploration was a positive thing for Earth. it has turned into a growing target of venture capital and private ingenuity. An example of this is when SpaceXs reusable rocket that is expected to reduce launch costs for commercial satellites.

Many people think that the NASAs missions are completely useless for example that time when they went exploring space and finding out that there was water on Mars-but how does that benefit us? Many people may say it actually doesnt and instead of spending millions of pounds, we could have helped the poor and starving. What do you think about this? Should we help just our own planet or is that being a bit selfish?

negatively but they do not benefit us. Many people do not see the need to spend millions and millions of dollars on space exploration as it does not benefit us immediately but helping the poor will a long term effect and we will see that improvement immediately.

Overall, I think that space exploration can never be categorized as either worthy or worthless but we do need to take into consideration of the fact that it does provide us My opinion is that space explora- with new technology, medical adtion could benefit the society in a vances etc. These benefits cannot be positive way such as new technol- seen immediately which could reogy means the younger generation sult in the reason to why people being motivated to complete their may underestimate space exploration. education. Not only that but the new technology could save millions of lives and even create more By Xheneta Tahiri - 10NA. jobs now creating more jobs would lead a multiplier effect which could not only benefit the society or community but the whole world. Although there are many negative aspects of space exploration which may not mean that they affect us specifically

Whats Happening To Our Earth?

The greenhouse gases are harming our earth by forming a separate layer, above the ozone layer. As we all know that ozone layer reflects some rays of the sun like UV rays in the space while some rays are absorbed through it. These rays are then absorbed by the atmosphere, oceans and earths crust keeping earth warm .These rays are emitted out of the earth. This process has a twist due to the greenhouse gases. The sun rays emitted from the earth are re-emitted back to the earth by the greenhouse gas layer above the ozone layer making earth warm. This is called global warming. How do re-emitted rays pass through ozone layer? Ozone layer is in danger. A big hole is forming, causing damage. This is where those re-emitted rays pass through ozone layer. There is a big hole above Antarctica. From holes like this, not only those hot rays but the harmful UV rays can pass through. Those UV rays cause deadly diseases like skin cancer. taken a step towards the life of our Mother Earth.

Many rich countries got developed while destroying the earth and using up its recourses but now when it's turn for the poorer countries these richer countries are now stopping What causes this? Someone has a big hand behind glob- them. Just because now these counal warming. Today you will know tries will use the rest of the Earth and who, it is each and every person on its recourses and by the time, they get the Earth. Well it is each and every fully developed our Earth will be so person on Earth who uses its natural weak to take care of us. Looking at resources or something that harms it. this these rich countries are paying A product that we use in our daily life the poor countries so that they stop makes holes in the ozone layer- Air developing. Is that fair? This argusols. These aerosols contain a harm- ment continues. ful gas called CFCs. Burning fossil fuels and deforestation help produce By Noorpreet - Year 10 greenhouse gasses. Politics on our earths life? Politics harms people and countries but now it has crossed its limit and

Birds Winging It in
Scientists have explained the so called Bermuda Triangle of the homing pigeon world. For years people have wondered why the birds, which are usually very good at navigating, tend to get lost when released from a specific location in New York State. New research, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, has shone a light on the phenomenon, as findings suggest that the birds

use low-frequency sounds to find their way, and they are unable to hear the rumbles in this particular location. It is thought that this can explain other instances where pigeons have lost their way, such as when 60,000 birds veered off course during a race across the English channel in 1997. By Lizzie Pengelly 12AEg

Find out more here: http://

Pigeons like this one were getting lost in the Bermuda Triangle.

Closure of Forensic Science Service

into account other costs as well, ( e.g. the FFS in the police force) the total cost would be 300 to 350 million, which is, undoubtedly a lot more than the initial figure of 95 million.

Do you watch CSI? Have any ambitions Ito get into the Forensic Science Industry? Well then youd be interested in this: The Forensic Science Service, also known as the FSS, is known to be a government-owned company which provides forensic science to the police and the government. The organisation once had 1,600 employees. It had been losing approximately 2 million a month when its closure was announced in 2010 and the government believed that criminal justice may be at a risk if the FSS was allowed to go into administration. The government had also planned for the private enterprises in relation to forensic science to take over the role of the FSS.

The actual costs of FSS closure must lie somewhere between 300m and 350m, if all of the costs of the police inThe FFS faces closure due to budget cuts, but will sourcing of forensic science activities this impact criminal justice and the economy? formerly delivered by [forensic science providers] are taken into account," -Dr. having to find them new places to Maguire

house work. Its a practice whereby the police bring forensic scientists into a home to do their work in order to cut down on even more expenditure. The metropolitan police lab being run is about 60m worth of costs and only The Home Office recently stated that managed to transfer 120 forensic scithis closure would negatively impact entist from the FSS over ten years the British economy by 95 million as which makes it seem more like a cost their estimate, however, a leading re- rather than an investment. Also, an searcher in the field, Dr. Michael 18 million loan was signed off, not to Maguire, disagrees. Dr. Michael mention the 21 million cost of buildMaguire spent thirty years working in ing a laboratory in Wakefield. the FSS himself, before moving to an academic job position in 2010, so it is So, overall, its not just the cost of scidefinitely safe to say that he does entists losing their jobs that we have to have a sufficient amount of experience take into account there is also the in this field. He thinks that if you take

Dr. Maguire s estimate is one of the first independent ones in relation to this topic and he is writing a full paper LCG, a private forensics firm estimaton this particular happening in order to ed that the market of forensics fell from 150m in 2010 to 70-80 million submit it to a n academic journal. in 2012, not taking into account the So, other than the forensic scientists in work that the police force carry out themselves. the police force, where do all these extra costs come from? Well, you may However, a Home Office spokesperson later stated: have heard of something called In"The Forensic Science Service was losing 2m a month and had to be wound down in order to protect taxpayers from further costs. The total direct cost of closure is around 95m and the figure provided by Dr. Maguire is not accurate."

work as theyre being made redundant, supporting them, etc.

Do you think it was the right decision for the economy to take action in this way? Why/Why not? What would we do without forensic science?
Information from: news/science-environment-21251162

By Deloram - Year 10

Dog Evolution is Rubbish!

If youve ever had to drag your naughty puppy out of the kitchen bin and sweep up the resulting mess before anyone else sees then youll understand how irritating it can be, but new research suggests that dogs cant help it, their troublemaking streak is in their genes! There may be a good reason why Fido has this bad habit. ment and gens that code the production of amylase, (the enzyme that breaks down starch) production. It was found that dogs have far more of these genes that wolves. These genes would have been useful for animals surviving by consuming the scavenged waste, such as wheat and crop products of early farmers. It appears that dogs literally evolved to eat trash, and A new study on canine genetics has their ability to do so is in their genes. revealed that domesticated dogs and wolves differ in the genes that Dr Erik Axelsson, of Uppsala University said: Wolves also have control amylase production. these genes but they don't use them as efficiently as dogs. For the research, carried out at Uppsala University, Sweden, scien- When we look at the wolf getists examined the DNA of more nome, we only see one copy of the than 50 modern breeds of dog, in- gene [for the amylase enzyme] on cluding breeds such as the cocker each chromosome. When we look spaniel and German shepherd. The at the dog genome, we see a range researchers then compared the ge- from two to 15 copies; and on average a dog carries seven copies netic information of the dogs to more than the wolf. that of 12 wolves from across the world. They found two major dif- That means the dog is a lot more ferences between the animals; efficient at making use of the nutrigenes that control brain develoption in starch than the wolf."

The difference in the genes that control brain development could be the reason for the behavioural differences between the two canids. Dogs tend to be a lot more docile, probably a consequence of early humans preferring to work with (and therefore breed from) more placid animals that were easier to tame. "Previous experiments have indicated that when you select for a reduction in aggressiveness, you obviously get a tamer animal but you also get an animal that retains juvenile characteristics much longer during development, sometimes into adulthood," said Dr Axelsson. It is unknown for certain how exactly early humans developed such a close bond with dogs, but archaeological evidence suggests that it was many thousands of years ago.

All modern breeds of dog, from the tiny Chihuahua to the titan great Danes are derived from wolves. The differences in the breeds, and indeed the differences between dogs and wolves are due to artificial selection.

One theory is that modern mutts are a result of hunter gatherers use of wolves as hunting companions or guards, but another suggestion is that domestication began when wolves that scavenged on scraps and leftovers came to reside permanently around humans as a result of the easily available food. According to Dr Axelsson: "This second hypothesis says that when we settled down, and in conjunction with the development of agriculture, we produced waste dumps around our settlements; and suddenly there was this new food resource, a new niche, for wolves to make use of, and the wolf that was best able to make use of it became the ancestor of the dog, So, we think our findings fit well with this theory that the dog evolved on the waste dump,"

fore the emergence of agriculture, in contrast to what this new research appears to suggest. Some researchers have tried to use the regular rate at which error patterns appear in dog DNA as a kind of clock to time when wolves first developed into dogs, but this too has produced contradictory results.

So maybe next time you shouldnt be so hard on your canine companion when you next find him rootling about in a rubbish pile. Now all your dog needs is for science to come with an excuse for why he doesnt sit when you ask him to... By Lizzie Pengelly - 12AEg Find out more: science-environment-21142870 journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ nature11837.html

Dr Carles Vila, from the ConserDespite this new research, the do- vation and Evolutionary Genetics Group at the Donana Biological mestication of dogs remains a Station in Seville, Spain, said the grey area for scientists, who are debate was wide open. still unsure of exactly when and how it happened. Fossil evidence "I think that modern dogs derived suggests that populations of dofrom multiple wolf populations," he observed. mestic dogs were around tens of thousands of years ago, long be"It could be that dog domestication started once with some animals staying with humans which were then regularly back-crossed with wolves and that could have the same effect. But there could have been completely independent domestications. What is clear is that the number of bone remains is very rare more than 14,000 years ago."

Pictures: images/65432000/jpg/ _65432538_c0138432-gray_wolfspl.jpg AAAAAAAALP0/ Jz1Q5zp1WR8/s1600/wolves-fighting--pic--07.jpg


Diabetes Research Gets Tails Wagging

out medical help. For the study, type 1 diabetes was induced in beagles between 6 months and 1 year in age. The dogs skeletal muscles were then injected with viruses carrying genes for insulin and glucokinase, an enzyme involved in processing glucose. After being treated in this way, it was confirmed that the genes had been incorporated into the DNA of the animals, and they were now able to manage the glucose concentration in their blood by themselves. When the dogs exDoes this mean Im allowed more dog treats? Beagles like this one were ercised they no longer had episodes injected with viruses carrying genes for insulin and glucokinase. of hypoglycaemia (the name given Your pet pooch definitely has diabetes may also have to carefully to periods when there is an abnormally low level of glucose in the something to wag their tail about - monitor their food intake, taking scientists have used gene therapy particular care with carbohydrates, blood). to successfully cure type 1 diabetes which are broken down in the in dogs. This is the first time that mouth and stomach by the enzyme Other groups of dogs were injected the disease has been treated in large amylase into smaller glucose mole- with viruses containing only the genes for insulin or only the genes animals, and marks a landmark in cules. for glucokinase, but these continthe mission to find a cure in humans. New research by Spanish scientists ued to show symptoms of diabetes, suggesting that the two genes work could put an end to this, as gene Diabetes is a health condition therapy has enabled diabetic dogs together. where the body is not able to cor- to regulate their blood sugar withrectly control the amount of glucose (a molecule needed for respiration) in the blood. There are two types of the disease, and in type 1 is caused by the pancreas not producing enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone that makes that liver convert glucose into glycogen for storage, therefore lowering the concentration of glucose in the blood. Insulin is important, as high levels of glucose in the blood can be fatal. Currently, sufferers of the disease are able to treat themselves by injecting insulin into their bloodstream before they eat. The extra insulin causes glucose to be taken up by the liver and other tissues, so when the person eats and consumes more glucose, the concentration in the blood stays normal. People with

It is hoped that this research could bring closer a cure for human sufferers.

It is hoped that after further tests the treatment could be carried out in humans, but sources warn that the treatment may not work the same way in people as it did in the canines. This is because diabetes was induced in the dogs by chemically destroying pancreas cells that produce insulin, whereas in naturally occurring type 1 diabetes these cells are destroyed by the bodys own immune system.

By Lizzie Pengelly12AEg Find out more: articles.view/articleNo/34394/title/ Dogs-Cured-of-Type-1-Diabetes/ gcsebitesize/science/ add_aqa_pre_2011/homeo/ homeostasis3.shtml

Still, this work is an interesting new avenue which may give us a completely new type of treatment, content/early/2013/01/30/db12Matthew Hobbs, head of research 1113 at Diabetes UK, told New Scientist.

Skin Cells Reprogramed Into Insulin

Whoever thought that skin cells hensive Cancer Center has said that could be reprogrammed into in- Not only have we shown that we sulin producing pancreas cells? can reprogram skin cells, but we have also demonstrated that these Recently, researchers at UNC reprogrammed cells can be differChapel Hill in the department of entiated into insulin-producing Biochemistry and Biophysics have cells which hold great therapeutic been able to transform human skin potential for diabetes, cells into cells which secrete insulin. This is a major step up in medi- There are two types of diabetes, cine and this will one day after type 1 which is the more severe further studies, be able to help of the two and type 2. Diabetes ocmany people who suffer from dia- curs when the body stops producbetes, as insulin is the hormone ing insulin properly. As a result, which treats his condition. diabetes patients need to have an intake of insulin in order to keep Lead author Yi Zhang, Ph.D., your blood glucose levels stable. Howard Hughes Medical Institute Sufferers of type 1 diabetes need investigator, professor of biochem- injections of insulin which help istry and biophysics at UNC and keep their blood sugar levels stamember of the Lineberger Compre- ble. There was research going on recently into a possible long-term treatment for diabetes which included transplanting insulin- producing beta cells into patients. However, this form of treatment does have a negative side to it, such as a shortage of matched orCurrently, people with type 1 diabetes gan donors along with having to have to inject themselves with insulin. supress the patients immune sys-

Yi Zhang, Ph.D, the lead author for the study.

tem. Having the insulin producing cells being made from the patients own reprogrammed cells can be a solution to these problems. By Sugra Rashid 12BMO Find out more: https:// unc-scientists-turn-human-skincells-into-insulin-producing-cells


Koalas Bellow with Unique Voice Organ

It is a low, rumbling bellow that seems very odd coming from the mouth of a little koala. And now scientists have found that these famously sleepy marsupials have evolved a vocal organ that allows them to produce a very low-pitched sound. Researchers discovered Koalas have an "extra pair of vocal folds" outside the larynx, which they use to make their mating calls. The findings are published in the journal Current Biology. "The first time I heard a koala bellow I was genuinely amazed that an animal this small could produce such a sound," said Benjamin D Charlton, of the University of Sussex, who led the research. Just think of a guitar string: as you shorten the string by placing a finger on the fret board you raise the frequency of the sound produced and the thickest strings produce the lowest frequencies." Benjamin Charlton, University of Sussex The pitch of the bellow, Dr Charlton said, was about "20 times lower than would be expected for an animal of its size". "It is more typical of an animal the size of an elephant," he told BBC News. The pitch of a call is generally associated with a mammal's size, because vocalisations come mainly from the larynx - an organ we sometimes refer to as our "voice box". This organ has a valve-like opening with two lips - or folds - running across it. The vibration of

these folds creates most of the sound we make when we speak. Smaller mammals, like koalas, which can weigh as little as 8kg (18lb), tend to have a smaller larynx with shorter, thinner vocal folds. And just like strings on a musical instrument, these make a higher pitched sound.

"Dr David Reby, from the University of Sussex, who was also involved in the research, explained that the animals' "unique vocal folds" were part of the soft palate, and "much bigger than the laryngeal vocal folds".

He said that humans created a similar effect when they snored, But when the researchers dissect- but added that our own soft palate was "not specialised for the proed the koalas' vocal tracts, they found a second, larger set of vocal duction of sound". folds. "[They] are located outside the The researchers think the very low pitched calls might have evolved, larynx, where the oral and nasal cavities connect," said Dr Charl- because it helped the koalas to ton. transfer information more clearly in their vocalisations. These folds, called the velar vocal folds are "over three times longer Dr Charlton added: "Another posand around 700 times heavier than sibility is that low pitch acts as a the laryngeal vocal folds", he direct cue to females of the male's added. quality, but this remains a topic Very low pitch might help koalas transmit information more clearly for future studies. in their calls By Sneha Patel - 10PL "Larger structures can oscillate at lower frequencies.


Meat the New Cultured Beef

nary creation as cultured beef. Marks team started with stem cells, and as these special cells multiply rapidly and can differentiate into nearly any type of cell, Mark harvested his starting cells from a cow. Using a needle, he removed some muscle stem cells from a live cow, and these cells normally replace lost or damaged muscle tissue to help an animal heal. In the lab, Post fed those cells so that they would multiply, producing millions more muscle cells. Over time, the cells can be formed into strips, however theyre small and the scientists needed 20,000 strips to create just one patty. methane- that contributes to global warming. Post explained that cultured beef may meet the growing worldwide demand for meat without raising and slaughtering livestock. The August 15 demonstration showed the technology exists. But cultured beef in the supermarket wont be seen just yet. Post says scientists still need to design new technologies to mass-produce and process the meat. Although theyre off to a good start, Post says he hopes that within 20 years, cultured beef will be affordable and widely available. After the televised event, more than 60% of polled viewers in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands said theyd be willing to try cultured beef. Some people think this is science fiction. Brin says. I actually think thats a good thing. He argues: If what youre doing is not seen by some people as science fiction, its probably not transformative enough.

On August 15, a chef and a scientist were joined by two food tasters before a live TV audience in London. They were asked to rate a hamburger, they sniffed, tasted, then chewed bits of the meat. Eventually, they gave this burger a thumbs-up. In the mouth, it felt like normal ground meat, they said, and though it didnt have the best taste, they concluded that the patty certainly resembled ground beef. Such comments actually started high praise, the reason: This was no ordinary beef. Then, to make it better and to make it resemble ground beef, they added Conventional beef is muscle tissue bread crumbs for texture and beet gathered from a slaughtered cow, juice for colouring. The man who cofounded Google, but no animal gave its life for this Computer scientist Sergey Brin, meat. Scientists at Maastricht Uni- funded Posts work on cultured versity, in the Netherlands, spent beef. Posts mission for the first labthe last five years perfecting meth- grown burger came with a heavy price- more than $300,000. ods to grow muscle tissue in a dish. Mark Post, the lead scientist behind the new burger, refers to his culi- As weird as lab-grown meat may sound, he and physiologists like Post see its development as one way to plan for the future. A 2011 United Nations study predicted a dramatic increase in the worldwide demand for meat in the next 40 years. But raising animals like cows will require using large areas of land and dedicating enormous amounts of crops to feed the animals. Also, those animals produce

By Deergha Chennubotla - 10PL


Virus Looking Sheepish as Vaccine is Developed

when passed on to an unborn calf or lamb during pregnancy, but it in cows it can cause moderate fever, reduced milk yield, loss of appetite, loss of body condition and diarrhoea. A myriad of abnormalities have been associated with the disease in newborn animals and foetuses, including bent limbs and fixed joints (also known as arthrogryposis), a twisted neck or spine as well as damage to the spinal cord, domed appearance to the skull, short lower jaw and some brain deformities including spaces filled with fluid in the cerebral hemispheres and abnormally small brainstems. There are also reports of animals which appear normal physically, but exhibit signs of nervousness, blindness, ataxia (loss of physical co-ordination), recumbency (lying down and beThere has been worry that Schmal- ing unable to get up), inability to suckle and convulsions lenberg virus (SBV) will cause many deaths this year, and farmers (uncontrollable shaking of the are already reporting heavy losses body). Foetal deformities vary depending on when the infection ocas the lambing season (DecemberMay) gets underway. curred during pregnancy. Around 1,000 farms across EngFarmers on infected farms should land and Wales, including 58 in expect to lose between 2% - 5% of Cornwall and 89 in Devon have their lambs. Despite this, up to reported cases according to DEFRA. The disease is only fatal 45% of lambs have been affected Last year many lambs and calves were stillborn as a result of the deadly Schmallenberg virus which swept the nation. The virus, which was first discovered in the German town of Schmallenberg in November 2011 spread across Europe and caused thousands of sheep and cows to give birth to dead or severely deformed young. Cases were reported as early as January 2012, and according to government scientists, it is believed to have been carried across Europe and over the English Channel and spread by midges during the summer, although this has not yet been confirmed. The UK and Germany are not the only countries to be affected; the virus has also been detected in Belgium and the Netherlands.

on certain farms, and some farmers have criticised a lack of government information about the disease. The first sign that the virus is present is usually when livestock give birth to dead or deformed young, but these animals may be born months after the infection arrived so tracking its progress can be difficult. The virus was only discovered relatively recently and little is known about it, but Scottish scientists have successfully managed to synthesise a version of the virus in a laboratory, which has lead to a vaccine being developed and sent to European regulators for approval. A group of researchers led by Massimo Palmarini and Alain Kohl at the University of Glasgow, Scotland made a synthetic version of the virus in order to study its genetics and see how it infects farm animals. Their experiments show that the virus replicates in the brain cells and spinal cords of unborn animals during pregnancy. The researches were then able to manipulate the genetic sequence of the virus to create versions that were less virulent (less infectious), which allowed scientists at MSD Animal Health to develop a vaccine.


Professor Massimo Palmarini of the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research told BBC News: "This is the first time we have been able to manipulate the genome of SBV in this way. We now know much more about how the virus causes the disease than we did a couple of months ago."

again. This explains why most people usually have chickenpox once. When were ill, our bodies produce antibodies to fight the infection, caused by the varicella zoster virus. Even after the virus is gone, our bodies still contain cells which know how to produce antibodies against the virus. This means that we ever A spokesperson for MSD Animal come into contact with the virus Health said; "In the studies to date, again, which is very likely, as chicksafety and efficacy has been demonstrated in calves, lambs and pregnant enpox is highly contagious (can be spread very easily), we can produce ewes. The company is currently working closely with the regulatory antibodies to fight the infection very authorities and we cannot speculate quickly, and we do not get ill. when the vaccine will be available. " When weakened or dead pathogens are administered, (usually injected into muscle, although sometimes administered orally, for example the polio vaccine), your body will start to produce antibodies to combat that certain pathogen. As the pathogens you are given are weak or dead, there is little chance of them making you seriously ill, but this will allow your body to learn how to produce certain antibodies so that if you ever encounter a stronger form of the disAntibodies cannot bind to any bacte- ease, you will be able to fight it. You rium or virus; your body needs to will be immune. make a new type of antibody every time a new pathogen invades. This is The earliest documented examples of because the antigen, the place on a vaccination date back to the 17th pathogen which the antibody binds century, when people in India and to is different for each different path- China were given powdered scabs of ogen. The good news, however, is people with smallpox to help prevent that once youve created that antithe disease. Technology has come a body, your cells will remember long way since then, but the princihow to make it, just in case youre ple remains the same. Vaccinations infected with the same pathogen are now used across the globe, and A vaccine provides immunity to an infection by administering weakened or dead pathogens (harmful microorganisms, for example bacteria. ) When a pathogen is present, white blood cells produce protein antibodies, which bind to the bacteria or virus, creating large clumps. These clumps are then engulfed by another type of white blood cell, called phagocytes.

By Lizzie Pengelly 12AEg

Find out more here: -environment-20980094 -environment-20772957 new vaccines are constantly being developed. Some previously deadly sci_schmallenberg.htm illnesses are now easily preventable, and if the new SBV vaccine gets the Schmallenberg_virus go-ahead, another one will be added to that list. Photos from: new-job-and-lambing-update.html

Neurons (cells that form the central nervous system) infected with SBV


Giant Blob of Hot Rock Hidden Under Antarctic Ice

Mount Sidley is the youngest volcano rising above the ice in West Antarctica's Executive Committee Range. A group of seismologists (a geophysicist who studies earthquakes and the mechanical characteristics of the Earth) has detected new volcanic activity under the ice about 30 miles ahead of Mount Sidley. A big, hot blob hiding beneath the bottom of the world could be evidence of a long-sought mantle column under West Antarctica, researchers said Monday (Dec. 9) here at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The possible hotspot a column of superheated rock rising from Earth's mantle sits under Marie Byrd Land, a broad dome at West Antarctica's edge where many active volcanoes above and below the ice spit lava and ash. The hot zone was discovered with seismic imaging techniques that rely on earthquake waves to build pictures of Earth's inner layers, similar to how a CT scan works. Beneath Marie Byrd Land, earthquake waves slow down; suggesting the mantle here is warmer than surrounding rocks. The strongest low-velocity zone sits below Marie Byrd Land's Executive Committee Range, directly under the Mount Sidley volcano, said Andrew Lloyd, a graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis. "The slow velocities suggest that

it's a mantle hotspot," Lloyd said. The hot zone also matches up with Marie Byrd Land's high landscape and active volcanoes, Lloyd said. Mantle column? Many researchers have long suspected that Marie Byrd Land sits atop a hotspot, because the region swells above the surrounding topography like the top of a warm souffl (and it has lots of volcanoes). But with few seismometers sitting on the ice, scientists were left speculating about what lies beneath Antarctica's ice. The evidence for the new hot zone, called a thermal anomaly, comes from a massive, temporary earthquake-monitoring network called Polenet that was installed between 2010 and 2012, giving scientists a unique look at Antarctica's crust and mantle. (A gravity survey conducted at the same time also suggests there is a big warm spot beneath this part

of West Antarctica.) But confirming that Marie Byrd Land is truly above a hotspot may require a return trip to Antarctica for another seismic experiment, said Doug Wiens, principal investigator on Polenet. "What's absolutely sure is there's a big thermal anomaly, a big blob," said Wiens, a seismologist at Washington University. "What's less sure is whether that anomaly goes deeper." The thermal anomaly extends 125 miles (200 kilometres) below Marie Byrd Land, Lloyd said. Below about 255 miles (410 km), where a mantle column's trailing tail would also leave a hotter-than -average mark in mantle rocks, there's little evidence for a rising hotspot, said Erica Emry, a postdoctoral researcher at


Pennsylvania State University. "There's no smoking gun," Emry said. However, more work remains to be done on the Polenet data, which could reveal new clues and further refine what the mantle looks like under West Antarctica, Emry added.

miles (17 km) thick, in West Antarctica's Ross embayment (A bay or baylike shape) near the Transantarctic Mountain Range, said Xinlei Sun, a postdoctoral researcher at Washington University. The Ross embayment is one of Antarctica's two big coastal lumps; the gap is filled by the Ross Antarctica's thinnest crust Ice Shelf. Here, the crust is as thin as The discovery is one of many new in the Gulf of California, where coninsights reported Monday into the tinental rifting (also called extension) geologic mysteries concealed by Ant- is tearing Baja California from mainarctica's thick ice. Other findings in- land Mexico and building a new clude extremely thin crust, just 10 ocean basin. "This is the thinnest crust [in Antarctica] and is probably related to an extensional environment," Sun said. On the other side of the Transantarctic Mountains lies the thick, old crust of East Antarctica, similar to the relatively stable interiors of continents such as North America and Africa. Antarctica's thickest crust is found

here, beneath the Gamburtsev Mountain Range. The Gamburtsevs are spectacular Alpine peaks completely buried in ice; the crust here is about 31 miles (50 km) thick. The crust beneath Marie Byrd Land is about 15 miles (25 km) thick, Sun said. By Sneha Patel - 10PL

Vision Restored Thanks To Robo-Eye

It may sound like something youd see in a sci-fi film, but Americans may soon be able to purchase restored vision as a Robo-Eye is revealed. The device uses a retinal implant paired with special glasses with a small camera integrated in. It has The Argus Retinal Prosthesis Sys- successfully restored at least partem, which was developed and tial sight to patients suffering from produced after years of research retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disThe US Food and Drug Adminby Second Sight Medical Prodorder that causes progressive viistration (FDA) is set to approve ucts, is already approved for use sion loss due to abnormalities in the prosthetic device that compen- in many parts of Europe, and it the retinal tissue. sates for failing photoreceptors, will hopefully be given the golight sensitive cells in the retina at ahead by the FDA. The device has been used in clinithe back of the eye that convert cal trials, where is was mostly used to restore black and white vision to participants, although it restored colour vision in certain people. By Lizzie Pengelly - 12AEg Find out more: articles.view/articleNo/34336/ title/Robo-Eye-to-Enter-USMarket/ biotechnology/first-bionic-eyesees-light19

light into electrical signals which can then be read by the brain.

Could Urchins Help To Stop Global Warming?

Researchers claim that sea urchins ability to absorb CO2 could help us to find a solution to the increasing problem of pollution. Scientists at Newcastle University, Tyne and Wear, England have discovered that sea urchins, (small, spiny echinoderms that feed primarily on algae) use the metal nickel to turn carbon dioxide into shell. They say that the technique could be used to turn emissions from power plants into the harmless compound calcium carbonate. When observing sea urchin larvae, the scientists noticed that there were high concentrations of nickel on their external skeletons. Many sea creatures, such as clams, oysters and corals convert carbon dioxide dissolved in water into calcium carbonate, which is essentially chalk. When the researchers added tiny nickel particles to a solution of carbon dioxide and water, they found that the nickel completely removed the CO2.
A close up of the exoskeleton of a sea urchin. Scientists believe that they could hold the key to developing a new method of storing carbon dioxide, CO2.

particles and you are trapping much more carbon than you would normally - and then you can easily turn it into calcium carbonate. It seems too good to be true, but it works,"

CO2 is a greenhouse gas. When released into the atmosphere it traps heat By Lizzie Pengelly12AEg and contributes to global warming. Find out more here: http:// Power plants generate a lot of CO2,"It is a simple system," Dr Lidija Siller especially when burning fossil fuels, from Newcastle University told BBC which is why simple things like turn- environment-21320666 News. "You bubble CO2 through the ing off lights when you leave a room water in which you have nickel nano- can help to reduce pollution, as you

are using less electricity. Currently, most carbon capture and storage (CCS) proposals are based on the idea of pumping CO2 into underground storage, but there are fears that it could leak back out again.

Fast Food? Chris P. Bacon Gets A Set Of Wheels

Chris P. Bacon, a little piggy born without the use of his hindlimbs has been given the chance to run around thanks to some creativity and KNex. A video showing off Chriss set of wheels has received more than 800,000 views in under a month. Hes cute. He grunts. And hes got a pretty cute little wheelchair, explained owner and vet Len Lucero, who built Chriss wheels. Watch the video yourself here: v=4Z-uO5TPQfM&feature=playe Meals on wheels? The video of Chris P. Bacon taking his new wheels for r_embedded a test drive has been watched more than 800,000 times. By Lizzie Pengelly12AEg

Short Story 6 Headline


Genetics Word Search (by Lizzie Pengelly 12AEg)

Did you know

If you unwrap all the DNA you have in all your cells, you could reach the moon and back 3000 times! If the human genome was a book, it would be equivalent to 800 dictionaries, and it would take a person typing 60 words per minute, eight hours a day, around 50 years to type it up.

Did you know

Our genes are remarkably similar to those of other life forms. For example, we share 98% of our genes with chimpanzees, 90% with mice, 85% with zebra fish, 21% with worms, and 7% with a simple bacterium such as E. coli.




Want to write an article for us or have a suggestion for what we should write about next time? Contact Lizzie in 12AEg (Form room U7) or ask Mrs Egan. Were always on the lookout for articles to write about and would be really grateful for any contributions! Thanks to Mrs Egan, Mr Kaye, Mr. Mahoney and Mrs Chesters for helping with this issue of Einsteins Army!


What now, Newton?!

- Fluids that dont play by the rules of viscosity!


Non-Newtonian liquid on a speaker cone:

Im sure you all know what viscosity means: the thickness of a liquid, how resistant it is to flowing because of gravity. Golden syrup and ketchup are good examples of viscous fluids. Most fluids, as Isaac Newton described, change their viscosity with temperature; becoming thicker when its colder, and thinner and runnier when its warmer. However, as you may have guessed, there are a few glooooooopy exceptions! Cornflour solution changes its viscosity when the temperature, but also the pressure is under changes. So, the harder you press it, the thicker it becomesalmost a solid if you press hard enough! To see this science in action is spectacularly simple; to make this mind-defying goop, you will need:

A box of cornflour A large mixing bowl A jug of water Lots of newspaperto cover the table and floor, this gets messy! Food colouring, because everythings more fun when its colourful. A zip sandwich bagto get rid of the goop afterwards. You dont want it blocking your sink!

Method Pour 1/4 of a box of cornflour into the bowl and slowly mix with around 1/2 a cup of water. Youre aiming for something like honey in thickness (to start with!), so add more flour/water/food colouring until you get it right. And now youre ready! Start by running your fingers across the surface, (this does involve you getting messy) swirling faster and faster. Youll be able to feel the resistance increasing the faster you go.

Now try cupping some goop in your hands and rolling it quickly between themlike youre making a snowballthen open your hands and watch the ball of goop (that felt solid) turn back to a liquid before your eyes! One more thing, which is definitely best to do outside, is to give the goop a strong palmslap! Now, you may expect this to go everywhere, given how it looks like a normal liquid Im not going to spoil this one for you, give it a go! Report back to Prep Room 1.