Sunday, 30 July 2017

6 Amazing Things Before Breakfast #2

Welcome to the second post in my weekly blog series where you’ll learn 6 amazing things before breakfast. This post is a week late and I am sorry but, I was lucky enough to spend a week in Oxford for a chemistry conference and wasn’t able to post last week. You can check out my twitter @ALifeinBioMed for pictures of my trip!

So, let's learn #6AmazingThingsBeforeBreakfast …

  1. Super Slug Glue

Scientists have created a new type of glue which could be used to close up wounds in surgery, which was inspired by slug slime! The gel is made up of two layers - one that sticks to wet surfaces and one that absorbs stress (like a shock absorber), just like the slime of a type of slug called Arion subfuscus. “We are also engineering it further to make our material biodegradable, so it dissolves in the body once it has served its purpose,” says Jianyu Li at Harvard University. The material has already been tested on liver and beating hearts and is significantly better than a commercially available surgical glue, CoSeal.

  1. A Faster Way to Test your Alcohol
This story has applications in something I have a lot of experience in – alcohol.  We all know that different spirits have different tastes and this is because of the different compounds in each drink, called volatiles. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a fast, sensitive and cheap way to detect very tiny amounts of volatiles using a hand-held device. This very easy method can detect concentrations of volatiles that were previously hard to identify and has many applications including testing the quality control of spirits as well as the detection of chemical toxins in food and drink. It follows on from the work done with “electronic noses” which are less sensitive than this new method.

3)  Rush Hour Health Concerns

We all know that in rush hour, pollution increases in the air. A new study by researchers from Duke University, Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology have looked at the first in-car pollution measurements. Usually, any traffic pollution sensors are placed on the ground, alongside a road however, they can’t tell us how much pollution a driver is exposed too on a daily commute. “We found that people are likely getting a double whammy of exposure in terms of health during rush-hour commutes” says Professor Michael Bergin at Duke University…

4) Very Bad News for Antarctica

You might have seen this in the news but unfortunately, last week a absolutely gigantic iceberg broke off from Antarctica. It is now the largest iceberg ever recorded and, although scientists knew it was coming, this is not a good sign at all. You can watch a video of the crack in the ice appearing on LiveScience here.

5) Answering the Big Questions. Who would win in a fight between Magneto and Elastigirl?

I am so excited about The Incredibles 2 being released next year! And this next story just adds to the excitement! Physicist, Christian Binek at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has made a breakthrough which would answer the age-old question “Who would win in a fight between Magneto and Elastigirl?” The answer – Magneto.

Binek has found that in some conditions, the magnetic properties of a material can predict its elasticity-temperature relationship. This means that, in the future, we could control how elastic a material is by subjecting them to a magnetic field or designing them with special magnetic properties.

6) Getting those Z’s in, in Space

This week The Royal Society have been asking people to nominate their favourite popular science book. The book that has inspired me the most is “Packing for Mars” by Mary Roach (you can find the book review I did here).

In the book, Mary explores the science that is happening right now to try and get humans to Mars and this next story follows on from the book perfectly. NASA’s Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) has just completed a 45-day mission where sleep deprivation was tested. The crew were allowed to sleep for 5 hours a night, for 5 days a week and then had 2 normal, recovery days where they could get a normal amount of sleep. They were also NOT allowed to nap! This situation helped scientists learn about fatigue, how to combat it and how to predict it.

On a lighter note, the crew were asked what they did to relax in the 45-day mission confinement. To which they said, they liked to play board games and watch movies together (so cute).

I hope you’ve found these stories as interesting as I have. You can read more about them by clicking on the links.

See you next week!

Follow @ALifeinBioMed on Twitter for daily updates, news stories and opinions

All images from Pixabay.

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