March 2017

Engineering in Time

Martha Dillon discusses why civil engineers should care about the past In architecture, an understanding of ancient buildings and a working knowledge of their history is taken as a given. Norman Foster, master of the then-futuristic glass skyscraper, once commented that “as an architect you design for the present, with an awareness of the past, for a future which is essentially unknown”. ­This typifies the attitude of most designers: old

The Rise of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Rebecca Richmond-Smith investigates the new kid on the block in medical research. THE GENERATION of induced pluripotent stem cells is circumnavigating ethical issues normally associated with the production of embryonic stem cells while allowing innovative research. These ethical issues are to do with when the onset of human personhood is. The reprogramming of somatic cells to produce induced pluripotent stem cells avoids the ethical problems specific to embryonic stem cell research.

FOCUS: AI and the power of the neuron

Alex Bates looks at how neurobiology has inspired the rise of artificial intelligence Since the ancient Greeks wrote the great automaton, Talos of Crete, into myth, science fiction has tinkered much with artificial intelligence (AI) in its well stocked playground. Isaac Asimov is perhaps the most famous man-handler of sci-fi’s best beloved toy, his three laws of robotics proving highly influential. Subsequently, lm has dissolved AI’s delicious possibilities and dangers

Syndrome: Tumbling into Wonderland

Mirlinda Ademi scrutinises the syndrome that simulates Wonderland Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland celebrated its 150th anniversary just last year. Ever since Charles Lutwidge Dogson, better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll, published the children’s tale in 1865 the story and its crazy characters have served as a powerful source of inspiration for novelists, filmmakers and poets alike. “Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (she was so much surprised,

Tissue Engineering Scaffolds: Guiding the rise of Cell Therapies

Oran Maguire explains how engineering and cell biology are carving out a new field One of the most exciting fields to emerge in the life sciences and biotechnology in recent years is tissue engineering, which centers around creating a reliable supply of functional tissue that will not be rejected by potential transplantees. Yet if it is ever going to realise its goals in the clinic, tissue engineering will have to

How our experiences affect our children

Jiali Gao looks at what toad sex, a suicide and starvation have taught genetics The theory of evolution is up there with the ‘universal law of gravitation’ and the ‘theory of general relativity’ when it comes to popular science. Darwin and Lamarck’s famous historical showdown is ensconced in GCSE Science textbooks, with Darwin emerging as the heroic victor, whilst Lamarck’s work is relegated to history’s dumping ground for scientific theories

In Search of Quantum Gravity

In Search of Quantum Gravity Gianamar Giovannetti-Singh explores the holographic universe Modern fundamental physics consists of two major pillars; general relativity, describing the interactions between matter and spacetime at the largest scales imaginable, and quantum mechanics, the physics governing the behaviour of subatomic particles. Despite each respective theory being tested to an extraordinary degree of accuracy, they are fundamentally incompatible with each other – general relativity predicts continuous spacetime as

Does Your Brain Have a Sex?

Does your brain have a sex? Julia Gottwald shows us that human male and female brains are more similar than we think If you were a fruit fly and smelled male pheromones, you would show a strong and consistent response. As a female fly, you would engage in courtship behaviour; as a male fly, you would become more aggressive. We know that pheromones activate different clusters of neurons in the