March 21, 2012
I recently went to a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) in the Lake District, United Kingdom, to learn more about hunting and biodiversity preservation. Although I am by no means an expert on conservation biology, it was interesting to hear the opinions of those who had a vested interest in the subject, which in this case was those trying to preserve hunting grounds for tourism. Here are some pictures of the day, which I think illustrate the need to celebrate and preserve natural beauty far better than words can.
March 19, 2012
Coffee is one of the most widely consumed drinks in the world. Because of it’s high caffeine content, it also counts as the most widely used stimulant drug. With increasing concern about the effects of caffeine on the body, more and more people are searching for caffeine-free alternatives, including decaffeinated coffee. This is more complex than it seems, with coffee containing more than 2,000 different chemical compounds (including caffeine) which all contribute to the taste and aroma of the drink. These need to remain as unaltered as possible to make decaffeinated coffee a viable option. New research shows how biotechnology of the coffee plant may change the face of decaf forever.
March 18, 2012
Loss of biodiversity is occurring at the fastest rate since time began, and nearly all of this loss is due to human interaction with the environment. Whilst many may exclaim that it is sad to see some of our favourite species go, there are a number of deeper reasons to be concerned by this loss. One of these is that human well-being is inextricably linked to biodiversity, particularly as we rely on a number of different plant and animal species for ecosystem services including food provisions, social services, security and health. A loss in biodiversity can often lead to some areas being plunged into poverty, and may impact the future availability of plant and animal products for medicines, clothing and development. Humans are also particularly sensitive to their environment, meaning that a loss of natural environments may lead to negative psycho-social effects.
March 14, 2012
Autism and the range of disorders on the autistic spectrum are perhaps the best known developmental disorders; a quick Google of the term ‘autism’ yields 75 billion results. Around 9 in every 1000 American children fall somewhere on the autistic spectrum, yet there have been on-going debates about what causes autism and who is ‘to blame’ for the development of the disease. Some new research has begun to shed light onto the topic and how autistic brains might be due to an overactive ‘bloom’ of neurons in the developing brain.
March 11, 2012
To continue my trend of making not-very-controversial blog posts with very controversial titles, here’s one called “Are Women Crazy?” It’s something we hear quite a lot, that women nag, have incredible mood swings and are just generally a bit rubbish. Hormones are perhaps the most maligned chemicals on Earth, and they get incriminated for almost everything to with female moods. Oestrogen seems to be a lot more of a victim than testosterone is, but is there any truth in the blame?