Hillcroft LRC

Posts Tagged ‘Access Health and Human Sciences

MRI scannerHelium is an ultra-light gas (think of balloons) discovered in 1868 by a French scientist, Pierre Janssen. It is the second most abundant gas in the universe but supplies on Earth have been running low and hard to find. Why is this cause for concern? Helium has many uses – in medicine, in space and science generally.

The most common use in medicine is nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). This is often used to diagnose soft tissue conditions like stroke, ligament injuries and tumours.

Liquid helium is used to keep the superconducting magnets cool in an MRI machine. In the last 5 years, doctors and radiological staff have become increasingly concerned that helium stocks were running low and what that would mean for MRI as a diagnostic health investigation.

It has been reported this week in New Scientist that fortunately, vast helium reserves have been located in The Great Rift Valley in Tanzania, in the east of the African continent. This means the many uses for helium have a slight reprieve but geologists will have to keep looking to stop the world from running out.

 

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The current issue of the New Scientist has a special feature about Sleep.

There aSleep + womanre nine pages that start with a graphic about the key to good sleep, noting the effects of aspects like light pollution, pets and temperature control. It continues with answers to questions such as – ‘How much shut-eye do I need? Can I cheat by sleeping in bits? What’s the best way to get to sleep?’

The final section is written by Russell Foster who is the director of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute and discusses the links between sleep and mental health.

If you want to know more about sleep after reading this article, try these materials available in the LRC:

Sleep and electroencephalograms (EEG) Advanced Biology (2000) by Roberts, Reiss & Monger.

Sleep deprivation The Private Life of the Brain (2000) by Greenfield.

Sleep disorders The Oxford Companion to the Body (2001) by Blakemore & Jennett (editors).

Insomnia The Stressed Sex: uncovering the truth about men, women and mental health (2013) by Freeman & Freeman.

Sleep and the Biological approach Psychology: the science of the mind and behaviour (2015) 7th edn. by Gross. Also as an ebook. Additionally, AQA A-level Psychology Book 1 (2015) by Lawton et al.

 

Vitamin D & sunshineOver the weekend, I read an article about vitamin D. Vitamin D is one of the fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamin D deficiency is on the increase in modern society. When the sun hits human skin, it is the shorter ultraviolet B rays that helps (via a long convoluted mechanism) vitamin D in the body to enable calcium to enter every body cell. Calcium helps to create and maintain strong teeth and bones.

Summer sunshine makes many more times more vitamin D than the body requires if you expose your arms and legs without sunscreen for 10 – 15 minutes in the middle of the day 2 – 3 times a week. This short amount of time however is still controversial among scientists due to the risks of skin cancer. Fair skinned people make vitamin D the fastest. Darker skinned people can have difficulty during the winter months because of the tilt of the earth in relation to the sun. To supplement this shortfall, people resort to vitamin D tablets when increasing foods high in vitamin D could be more beneficial. Such foods include fatty fish like sardines, salmon and mackerel, fortified (added vitamin D) margarine and egg yokes.

Medically, a lack of vitamin D and its link with calcium can lead to bone and muscle pain, neurological problems (particularly in the elderly) and an increase in the risk of cancer.

LRC links to Vitamin D

Ross & Wilson anatomy and physiology in health and illness 10th edn (2006) by A. Waugh & A. Grant

Food: the chemistry of its components 6th edn (2016) by Coultate

Trust me I’m a doctor DVD (2014) by the BBC

NHS Choices: how to get Vitamin D from sunlight

 

Cancer books

Last week, a gene breakthrough for breast cancer was reported in the media. NHS Choices expands on the details of this research which was originally published in the scientific journal Nature.

This large study was conducted by British scientists but funding came from a number of sources across the world. It involved 560 people with breast cancer with scientists comparing the DNA from their cancer cells with DNA from their surrounding normal cells. They isolated 93 genes that if they mutated, could make normal cells become cancerous.

This was a laboratory study, hopefully leading to a better understanding of the genetic mutations and their causes and in the much longer term, targeted personalised treatments for breast cancer. Doctors and scientists believe that through limiting alcohol, keeping physically active and maintaining body weight, the risk of breast cancer can be reduced.

To find out more about cancer, psychological support for cancer sufferers and personal stories of people with cancer, explore these items on the web and the LRC catalogue:

Oxford Dictionary of Science 6th edn. (2010) by Daintith and Martin

Advanced Biology (2000) by Roberts, Reiss and Monger

In the body of the world: a memoir of cancer and connection (2013) by Ensler

Gratitude (2015) by Sacks

Health Psychology 5th edn. (2012) by Ogden and also as an ebook

Cancer Research UK

 

Infographic on transplanation

Just after Easter, there was an interesting infographic in the Independent-i (Thursday 7 April page 2). It provided readers with transplant activity for the year 2014-15 e.g. 180 heart transplants; the numbers around transplantation like the 22 million people on the transplant register and a history of the key transplant developments worldwide starting with the first corneal transplant in 1905.

Want more information about transplantation? Explore the following LRC and web items:

Oxford Concise Medical Dictionary 9th edn (2015) by Marvin

DK Science: the definitive visual guide 2nd edn (2011) by Hart-Davis

NHS Blood & Transplant clinical website

Keen on infographic materials generally? Take a look at:

Visual aid (2008) by Draught Associates

The State of the World Atlas 9th edn (2013) by Smith

ebook: available too.

Many of us have family, friends or neighbours who have type 2 diabetes, in fact there are nearly 300 million people worldwide with the condition. ThDiabetes equipmente treatment for type 2 diabetes is progressive from diet and exercise, to drug treatment (metformin) to insulin injections.

A recent article in the New Scientist revealed a group of South Korean scientists who are developing a wearable device made from a relatively new material called graphene which is very thin, flexible and comfortable next to the skin. It will monitor blood glucose in a patient’s sweat and if this is high, will deliver a dose of metformin via a set of microneedles to return blood glucose to normal.

This technology is in its infancy with testing on mice. But hopefully in the next 10 years or so, costs will fall and ways will become apparent to deliver the human adult doses of diabetic treatment drugs required.

For further information in the LRC about diabetes, look at:

AS & A Level Biology through diagrams (2009) by Pickering

Ross and Wilson Anatomy and Physiology in Health and Illness 10th edn. (2006) by Waugh and Grant

Oxford Concise Colour Medical Dictionary 6th edn (2015) by Martin (ed)

 

 

 

Kathleen Lonsdale

Do you love science? Do you want to follow in the steps of an inspirational figure? What about Dame Kathleen Lonsdale?

Kathleen Yardley was born on 28 January 1903. She came to Britain with her Irish family when she was 5 years old. She excelled in mathematics, physics and chemistry but as these were not taught at her girl’s school, she had to attend the local boy’s school.

She continued to do well and attended Bedford College for Women (part of the University of London) where she graduated in 1922 with the highest marks in physics for 10 years. This success brought her to the attention of Sir William Bragg at University College London (UCL) who was at the forefront of X-ray diffraction. She subsequently gained a Masters degree from UCL in 1924 and continued working with Bragg when he moved to the Royal Society. He provided her with considerable support and encouragement.

In 1927, Kathleen married another researcher, Thomas Lonsdale and they moved to Leeds when he had an employment opportunity there. She joined the physics department of Leeds University and built her own experimental equipment enabling her to analyse hexamethylbenzene using x-ray crystallography. This was her first major discovery. Between 1928 and 1934 she had three children but continued to work. She gained a Science Doctorate in 1936. She published at least 200 research papers during her lifetime. She was the first female professor of Chemistry at UCL (1949 – 1968).

She was a religious woman practising as a Quaker and as Europe headed towards war in the 1930s, she considered this an evil activity. When war was declared in 1939, she was informed of her civil defence duties as her young children exempted her from war work. She refused this work, or pay the necessary fine and was sent to Holloway prison for one month. When she left prison, she began to support prison reform groups.

She took other stands against the war – as a scientist joining the Atomic Scientist Association and as a woman joining the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. In 1945/6 she was one of two women allowed to join The Royal Society and ten years later she was created Dame of the British Empire. She died at the age of 68 on 1 April 1971.

References

Text materials on Kathleen and X-ray crystallography in our LRC:

Cambridge Dictionary of Scientists 2nd edn. by Millar

Oxford Dictionary of Chemistry 6th edn. by Daintith

skullsinthestars (2015) Kathleen Lonsdale: Master of crystallography. Available at: http://skullsinthestars.com/2015/04/06/kathleen-lonsdale-master-of-crystallography/ (Accessed: 29 March 2016).