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.

Perfect Rigour by Masha Gessen

August 8, 2011 at 8:37 am | Posted in Competition, Read | 1 Comment
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In 2000, the Poincaré Conjecture was named as one of seven of the greatest unsolved mathematical problems in world, and the Clay Institute in Boston – recognising its complexity – offered $1m to anyone who could produce a solution. Grigori Perelman – a talented Russian mathematician – posted his solution to the mathematical conundrum online in 2002. His solution was validated in 2006, and in 2010, he was offered the $1m in recognition of his proof and mathematically ability – he refused every penny, the Fields Medal – mathematics’ highest honour – and he job offers that inevitably followed.

Journalist Masha Gessen wanted to find out why – and her task was made even harder as Perelman refused to bask in the limelight of his success, becoming a recluse and cutting off all communication with the outside world, especially journalists.

Perfect Rigour is like no other biography – Gessen says she never met with Perelman, and was forced to find out more about the genius from former classmates, teachers and colleagues in both America and Russia to paint a picture of a man who never wanted to be famous.

Perfect Rigour by Masha Gessen, Icon Books, March 2011, £7.99

We’ve got a copy of Perfect Rigour to give away – to be in with a chance of winning just send your name, address and organisation/institution to by 29th August.

The World’s Greatest Idea: the Fifty Greatest Ideas that have Changed Humanity

July 13, 2011 at 8:34 am | Posted in Competition, Read | Leave a comment
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What is the world’s greatest idea – fire, electricity, natural selection? In true Top of the Pops style, John Farndon counts us down from 50 to one – the World’s greatest ever idea – as complied by a panel of experts and voted for by the public. But what will it be – marriage, capitalism, or simply tea and coffee? You’ll have to read it to find out.

This is a witty and surprising read – you learn something new with each idea, even if it’s just where the public rates the idea! This is another great holiday/commuting book – it’s easy to read and the short sections make it an ideal book to dip in and out of whether travelling on the train or sunning yourself by the pool.

And we’ve got a copy to give away. For your chance to win just send your name, address, organisation/institution to by 29th July. Good luck!

Teach us to Sit Still by Tim Parks

June 21, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Posted in Competition, Read | Leave a comment
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Plagued by what he thought was a prostate condition that couldn’t be explained or treated by conventional medicine, Tim Parks found mediation. His unlikely prescription of breathing exercises was the last place he wanted to find answers – it was all a bit ‘New Age’ for him.

Teach us to sit Still is Parks’ record of his own mysterious illness and his quest for relief from chronic pain. From being told it was a blocked vata – an energy flow into his body – to undergoing a painful cystoscopy, Parks is careful not to leave out any wince-inducing detail. And then a friend suggested breathing – it didn’t appeal but he gave it a go…

Parks details the last four or five years of his unpleasant and chronic health condition – while also touching on the effects of illness on other writers and the role of religion in shaping our sense of self – until he found the key that let him out of his personal and painful jail.

As Britons, we don’t like to talk about our embarrassing health problems, but this witty, engaging, uplifting and painfully honest self-examination might make you think it’s not such a bad idea.

We’ve got two copies of Teach us to Sit Still  to give away. To be in with a chance of winning, just send your name, address and organisation/institution to or tweet @laboratorynews #teachustositstill and we’ll put your name in the hat.

Size Matters: The Royal Institution Christmas lectures 2010

June 9, 2011 at 9:03 am | Posted in Competition, Watch | 1 Comment
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Ever wondered why a hamster would survive if you drop it from a great height, why an elephant couldn’t dance no matter how hard it tries or what happens to chocolate as it melts?

Well fret no more: Dr Mark Miodownik answered these – and many other questions – during his Size Matters series of Christmas lectures at the Royal Institution. Mark explored the importance of the micro and macroscale by dropping a hamster and dog – ok gunge-filled balloons – from a great height; introduced us to a flea circus and flew around the lecture theatre over three jam-packed lectures.

They were great fun to watch – and certainly kept the Lab News team entertained over the festive period. Unbeknown to us, the RI have been producing DVDs of the Christmas lectures since 2005, and this year – for the first time – they are available to order online via Amazon.

And we’ve got two to give away thanks to the lovely people at the RI. To be in with a chance of winning, just send your name, address and institution/organisation to by 29th June. Good luck!

Inflight Science: A Guide to the world from your airplane window

June 7, 2011 at 9:09 am | Posted in Competition, Read | 1 Comment
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Holiday season is fast approaching and what better way to get in the mood with a bit of holiday reading – we suggest Inflight Science: A guide to the world from your airplane window.

Brian Clegg lets you in some of the science you experience as you travel by air to your sunny destination, from airport scanners and security checks, to how your plane actually gets into the air. And he doesn’t stop there – he tackles some of the things you might see out of the window: the Uffington White Horse; crop circles or simply just the tides. He even explains how an airplane toilet works and why you could never get sucked into the vacuum flush!

This light but informative read is fun and accessible and the perfect book to read on your travels – and there are even a few inflight experiments for you to get your teeth into. It’ll leave you marvelling at the science and engineering that goes into flying – something we all take for granted when we’re jetting off.

Inflight Science: A guide to the world from your airplane window by Brian Clegg; Icon Books; April 2011 £12.99

We’ve got a copy of Inflight Science to give away to one lucky reader – just send your name, address and institution/organisation to by 29th June. Good luck!

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