Join us on our new site

November 1, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Posted in Editorial Comment | Leave a comment

That’s right – after months of promising a new site, we finally have one. All the things we have here now have a new home on www.labnews.co.uk. Why not head on over there and read the latest Science Lite, or check out our latest book review?

This blog will stay up for a little while, but we just won’t be adding any new content. Thanks for reading and do come join us on the new site.

Love the Lab News team xx

Sparkle sparkle

October 27, 2011 at 9:32 am | Posted in I didn't know that! | Leave a comment
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Sparkle sparkle

It’s that time of year again – no we’re not talking about Christmas – it’s Bonfire Night, and with it come various fireworks and sparklers.

I love a sparkler and I must admit to sulking like a little girl if I don’t get to write my name with one – but what are they actually made of? Continue Reading Sparkle sparkle…

Burrito birthday!

October 13, 2011 at 10:05 am | Posted in Science Lite | Leave a comment
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As you will no doubt have noticed it is the 40th anniversary of Laboratory News, and this issue is something of a ‘birthday party’ issue.

The Editor has been rattling his ‘40th anniversary sabre’ for several months now. “I want you all fully on board with this. I want original ideas” he regularly shouts. “…And yes, I’m looking at you Science Lite desk.”

Now, regular readers of Science Lite will be all too aware that ‘ideas’ and ‘originality’ are not necessarily something for which we hold a natural inclination. Yet a small seedling started to germinate in the collective imagination of Science Lite and we got to thinking, Lab News is 40 – so what do 40 year olds want on their birthday?

Well, a bit of a reminisce followed by far too much alcohol and then a fully fledged mid-life crisis complete with sports car and a wardrobe full of inappropriately youthful clothing. Obvious really.

It was the first of these that was to be our gift to Laboratory News – a trip down memory lane. After a swift search through the dusty archives we discovered that at its inception the magazine was based at a rather glamorous sounding address on London’s Fleet Street. Excellent we thought – a quick trip to the big smoke, a swift befriending of the current residents and a tour of the office to lap up the heady atmosphere of glories past – followed, of course, by a few celebratory beverages.

The Editor was swift to voice his concern. “You have checked that the current occupants will be happy for us to traipse around their office haven’t you?” he said. “…of course” we lied. Permission to enter the premises however was to turn out to be the least of our woes come the big trip – you see such was our enthusiasm we had neglected to check if the building was even still standing, let alone occupied.

Having gathered all the staff that showed even the slightest hint of willingness, we set-off on the retrospective trip of a lifetime – yet almost immediately upon arrival on Fleet Street the inevitable sense of failure began to gather around our little field trip. You see we neglected to examine who was occupying our ex-office as we simply – and wrongly as it turned out – assumed it would be another publishing company given its locale on Fleet Street. Much to our – and our Editor’s – chagrin it was, in fact, nothing of the sort.

So what was the noble enterprise that now occupied our hallowed ground? A library perhaps, a charitable foundation working for the betterment of science, a venture capitalist specialising in R&D investment?

No – in fact we were greeted by Chilango, a Mexican fast food joint. After standing open mouthed for a few minutes we had to act. “Well, this is perfect!” We announced, hoping to dissolve everyone’s obvious discontent with the situation. “Let’s go in and celebrate. If nothing else it surely shows that even businesses behave according to the laws of thermodynamics – all commercial enterprise inevitably breaks down, eventually becoming a fast food joint of some kind.”

Inside, the mood of our little trip started to noticeably change. Perhaps it was the delicious scent of the food, perhaps it was the frankly mood altering décor – a picture of neon perfection which could surely batter any ill feeling into submission – either way tensions began to lift. This combined with the incredibly friendly staff and the absolutely delicious food meant that the day started to pull back from the precipice of calamity.

So to you the staff of Chilango we say thank you – not just for the lovely food and warm welcome, but for saving what was otherwise bound to be another Science Lite disaster. And to our readers we implore you to pay a visit to Chilango on Fleet Street – not only will you be able to bask in Lab News tradition, but you will also be able to eat very well indeed. And finally to you Laboratory News we simply say: Feliz cumpleaños!

The Epigenetics Revolution

October 11, 2011 at 10:02 am | Posted in Read | Leave a comment
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In a nod to our friends at LGC who have been enlightening us what’s changed during their careers we thought we’d introduce you to The Epigenetic Revolution by Nessa Carey.

Virologist Carey takes you on thrilling ride through the fastest-moving field in modern biology – eigenetics. She explains, why we age and develop disease, why identical twins become less identical over time, and why Audrey Hepburn had such a fragile, delicately beautiful bone structure.

It’s all down to our cells reading the genetic code in DNA just like a script to be interpreted, rather than word for word like a mould that gives the same results each time.

What’s more, Carey discusses the future – how scientists are working towards ways to reverse the ageing process and eradicated disease. It could be sooner than we think.

The Epigenetics Revolution by Nessa Carey, Icon Books, September 2011, £17.99

And we’ve got a copy of The Epigenetic Revolution to giveaway – just send you name, address, and organisation/institution to phil.prime@laboratorynews.co.uk by 28th October.

Return of the science cookies!

October 6, 2011 at 9:56 am | Posted in 40th birthday celebrations, Competition, Cooking with science, Do | Leave a comment
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This month we’re lucky enough to have a selection of cookies made by Quirky Cookies & Cakes aka Wendy – a self-confessed science groupie and geek – and her analytical chemist husband, Jason.

Working from their home in Derbyshire since 2009, Wendy has produced her bespoke biscuits and cakes using as many locally sourced ingredients as possible.  Each cookie is made to her own recipe, and intricately decorated with royal icing, and would make a fabulous addition to any celebration – our favourite is the exploding supernova, which has space dust on it so it also explodes in your mouth!

Wendy and Jason love a challenge, and if they haven’t got a suitable shape in their collection of over 500 different cutters they can even make their own. Quirky Cookies and Cakes welcome orders, just e-mail enquiries@quirkycookiesandcakes.co.uk, call 01332 610997 or send a tweet to @quirkycookies Check out a selection of their cookies at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Quirky-Cookies-Cakes/130360187673

To be in with a chance of winning a fabulous selection of science cookies, just email your name, address and organisation/institution to phil.prime@laboratorynews.co.uk by 28th October.

Science showoff

October 4, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Posted in Events | Leave a comment
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Got something scientific you want to shout about? Science Showoff is the perfect opportunity – it’s an open mic night for scientists, science communicators, science teachers, historians and philosophers of science, students, science popularisers and anyone else with something to show off about science. Happening on a monthly basis at the Wilmington Arms in Clerkenwell, there’s every chance that this free event will have something for everyone!

The first night takes place on 4th October, and keep an eye on www.scienceshowoff.org for future dates and more information.

7.30-10pm @ Wilmington Arms, 69 Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4RL

Happy birthday to us…

October 3, 2011 at 8:50 am | Posted in 40th birthday celebrations, Editorial Comment | Leave a comment

Welcome to the 40th anniversary edition of Laboratory News! I am pleased and indeed very proud to bring you this special birthday edition.

Starting on p15 you’ll find a special anniversary section where we celebrate the last 40 years of the magazine, and the science and people that have played a part in it. On page 16 we hear from some previous editors – each has put their own inimitable stamp on the publication over the years and each has contributed to the magazine it has become. But of course we aren’t just celebrating the magazine as it is today; throughout the last 40 years Lab News has been a stalwart of the science community – and it is a community that has seen many changes and challenges. On page 18 we take a look at a few past headlines, some of them particularly reflective of today’s scientific climate.

Of course science itself has advanced in ways that would astonish the team that worked on the launch issue of Laboratory News back in 1971 – and on page 20 we have charted some of the highlights of scientific discovery and development over that time. But if you think we have missed something, or would just like to comment then please do e-mail me – as always I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Just as important as what we have seen over the past 40 years is what the next 40 may hold. On page 24 some good friends of the magazine give their fascinating insights into what course we might expect science to take in the future.

Like any good retrospective however, my aim isn’t just simple nostalgia – we must endeavour to look back and learn from history. These are challenging times for UK science, yet something that has become evident from looking back over past issues of the magazine is that science has always faced barriers. Headlines involving a funding crisis, job security issues, and education apprehensions have adorned our news pages for as long as they have existed – and this is no different today.

I hope you enjoy the issue, and I hope that it might go some way to framing the problems – and the potential successes – that science faces today and in the future. But most of all I’d like to thank you, the readers. This is your magazine and it is down to you that it has gone from strength to strength. Happy Birthday Laboratory News – and here’s to the next 40!

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