Fighting Faeces with Faeces

Beware, this may be NSFW. Or for a few hours if you just ate.

An article published in PLOS Pathogens(1) caught my eye recently (truthfully it was on the nature news feed). A research group from the Sanger Institute near Cambridge (UK, not MA) have been studying how to deal with a very difficult hospital infection, Clostridium difficile (C. difficile). This probably doesn’t sound very interesting until you realise that one of the methods they used to combat the infection is faecal transplantation.

Yes that means taking one (more…)

The Key to the Senses: Transduction

Here’s probably the most basic question in all of sensory neuroscience (the study of the senses). How does a ray of light enter our nervous system, to eventually become something that we see? How in fact does anything external (anything we touch, smell, taste, hear or see) get turned into something internal (some kind of signal in the brain that tells us to sense something).

The answer is simple, so simple in fact that it is one word: (more…)

The Brain in Technicolour

I thought this picture that I used in my last post deserved a proper explanation.

The Brain in Technicolour

Firstly I want to point out that yes, it is a brain. Most of us probably think they all look like (more…)

Embryology = Evolution = DNA???

Look at this picture of some embryos:

There's a person in here somewhere.

One of them is a human, do you know which?

How about this one:

This one is a bit more obvious?

Lets make it really easy for you: (more…)

Life: In The Making… Embryology

This is a video of zebrafish going through the most important portion of development, gastrulation, and then seemingly having a massive fit (they are probably just starting to move about, the films sped up a lot so it looks a bit odd). It’s a little bit crazy that  (more…)

Life: In the Making… Fertilisation

We used to think babies were hidden inside the sperm.

In almost every religion and every society, the world seems to revolve around babies. (Although sometimes it seems to revolve around bankers). As soon as someone is pregnant, everyone runs to them to feel the baby move. As soon as the baby is born, everyone runs to hold the baby, or to see it. Even in politics, education is one of the main standpoints, the education of children.

So I’m going to explain how these little people come about. I’m assuming I don’t need to start with the birds and the bees. (more…)

The Uselessness of DNA

Several of the greatest ever scientific projects and discoveries over the last 100 years have been to do with DNA.

  1. First there was the discovery that DNA is the code for life.
  2. Next there was the discovery of the structure of DNA, allowing us to interpret the code.
  3. This carried on, we learnt about transcription and translation.
  4. Then eventually there was the Human Genome Project (HGP), which mapped out every single codon in all of our DNA.  And it was the HGP that gave us all a big shock.


Life: DNA – Translating Life

This is probably all the basic understanding of DNA that you will ever need (especially if you are a non-scientist). If you are a molecular biologist, than this is just the beginning!

Turning DNA into proteins (and thus creating life) is split into two distinct steps:

  1. Transcribing. (Meaning to write out)
  2. Translating. (So translating the written out code into proteins)

Lets start.

Life: DNA – Breaking The Code

To start off on this massive topic I would like to note a couple of key concepts: (more…)

Life: “It’s all in the DNA'”

Before I get started I want to start with the reasons why DNA is so important.