The beautiful magic of bioluminescence

I’m very excited to say that this article features beautiful illustrations by the wonderful and hugely talented illustrator Holly Astle! Thank you for reading and be sure to check out her links at the end of this (quite long) article.  

Walking along some famous beaches or swimming in certain oceans, you will see your footsteps glow in the sand, or the ocean light up with flashes of light as you swim through. This natural phenomenon is called bioluminescence and has captured the imagination of humans for many years. I have been lucky enough to swim with bioluminescent plankton myself, and it got me thinking about how this wonderful quirk of nature has evolved. Read More »

2018 Reflection

There have been some incredible scientific discoveries this past year, and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some discoveries I did not get time to cover. From revolutionary cancer tests, to a completely new neuron being discovered, here are some of the wonderful discoveries of 2018.

 

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Can our gut bacteria create a universal blood type?

In the UK, approximately 1.5 million red blood cell (RBC) donations are collected each year and used in blood transfusions, despite this impressive number there is still a shortage as demand outstrips supply and most donations are unusable for those in immediate need. The solution could be from an unexpected source – could bacteria found in our gut help blood shortages be a thing of the past? Read More »

Caterpillar Metamorphosis – more gruesome than you think

I started researching this at the request of a good friend, who was amazed by some reading they had done around it. When they asked what I knew about metamorphosis I had to admit fairly little – my knowledge faltered after “there was a very hungry caterpillar who stuffed himself with leaves”. We’re told as children that the caterpillar eats until it’s full, spins itself a cocoon, has a sleep, then emerges as a beautiful butterfly. To be honest, the truth is a little more gruesome so maybe best to leave it at that for children. Read More »

How CRISPR can save our coral reefs

Coral reefs are incredible ecosystems home to hundreds of thousands of species, but unfortunately, they have been absolutely devastated in recent decades. Warming ocean temperatures, pollution, ocean acidification, overfishing, the list goes on, and we are now faced with the very real prospect that we could lose an entire ecosystem.

Half of the worlds coral reefs have disappeared over the last 30 years, a fact which has become a rallying cry to researchers. Today I am going to explore how some are utilising genetic engineering to tip the scales. Read More »

A possible solution to Plastic pollution – PET degrading enzymes and the plastic pact

Last month an exciting scientific paper was published that coincided with several new policies centring around reforming the UK’s plastic consumption. The paper was titled “Characterization and engineering of a plastic-degrading aromatic polyesterase” and has caused quite a stir with everyone getting excited about this promising discovery, and what it could mean for the very prominent plastic issue which is in the public eye. Read More »