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 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…

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 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, call 01332 610997 or send a tweet to @quirkycookies Check out a selection of their cookies at

To be in with a chance of winning a fabulous selection of science cookies, just email your name, address and organisation/institution to 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 for future dates and more information.

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


September 29, 2011 at 10:18 am | Posted in I didn't know that!, Science Lite | Leave a comment
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Credit: admiller

We all get bouts of hiccups – squeeky little ones, or ones that come right from your boots that really hurt. Why we get them is a mystery, but what we do know is they can be really annoying – sometimes even embarrassing!

Most cases of hiccups occur for no apparent reason. Sometimes we get them after a few too many beers down the pub at lunch time, or if we’ve scoffed our dinner too quickly. But did you know hiccups can also be caused by shock, stress or excitement?

A sudden change in room temperature or the temperature inside your stomach can also cause hiccups.  Hiccups – or hiccoughs as they’re sometimes known – occur when your diaphragm suddenly and involuntarily contracts. This causes you to breathe air in very quickly, but this air is stopped by the glottis – the opening between your vocal cords – which closes suddenly, producing a hiccup!

So what’s the best way to get rid of them? Holding your breath, getting a fright, or drinking a glass of water backwards – yes…this task is particularly hard but by the time you’re done the hiccups have gone!

But what about those who have hiccups for long periods? They can be caused by a more serious underlying condition such as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease or inflammation of the stomach, throat ot thyroid gland. What can be done to rid them of the involuntary nightmare? The nastiest we read was puttingvinegar up the nose of a three year-old girl in Japan: it’s thought the vinegar helps stimulate the dorsal wall of the naopharynx where the pharyngeal branch of the glossopharayngeal nerve is located.

We’ll stick to drinking water backwards thanks!

The office party…why we get drunk

September 22, 2011 at 10:44 am | Posted in 40th birthday celebrations, Editorial Comment | 2 Comments
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Its our 40th birthday next month – hurrah – and we intend to celebrate. But just like the office Christmas party, we need to make sure we don’t embarrass ourselves by getting too intoxicated!

Why is it that we always get drunk at the office party? New research from the University of Birmingham – published in Alcohol and Alcoholism – suggests drinking in an unfamiliar environment can lead to an inability to reign in unsuitable behaviour. When drinking in familiar environments, we learn a conditioned compensatory response that enables us to learn the anticipated effects of alcohol – but when in an unfamilar context we lose this response say researchers.

“The implications for drinking in a real life situation are that if you have an alcoholic drink somewhere new, for example, at the office party or in some other environment that you don’t associate with alcohol, you may experience more of these effects of disinhibition because you lack the conditioned compensatory response that you would experience in your usual drinking environment,” said Dr Suzanne Higgs, lead investigator.

So our advice – once you know where the office party is going to be – head over there for a few drinks before the night – it might just save embarrassment!

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