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!

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.

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!

It’s our birthday soon…

July 7, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Posted in 40th birthday celebrations, Lab News videos | Leave a comment
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Laboratory News celebrates its 40th anniversary in October and in preparation for our birthday edition we’ve been trawling the archives finding out how we’ve changed since the first issue back in 1971. Much has changed with the magazine in that time, as it has with science – from the Space Shuttle program which launched the ISS and Hubble Telescope, to sequencing the entire human genome and cloning Dolly the sheep.

We’d love to know what you consider to be the most significant scientific advance of the last 40 years – justlet us know. We’ll collate your responses and publish a Laboratory News top 10 in our October issue. If you’d also like to write a little on why you think your choice is so significant then we may even publish that as well!

What about life in the lab over that time? What has changed? What has remained steadfastly the same? We love to know your thoughts on life as a scientist over the past 40 years or so.

We’re also hoping to get in touch with past editors, writers, contributors and advertisers – please get in touch if you can help us trace them.

As always this is your publication – so please do get in touch, we really do value your input.

As always the address is phil.prime@laboratorynews.co.uk

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