Before I start, a disclaimer: I’m one of those ‘make and do’ people, the ones that hoard empty containers and bits of tat ‘just in case I can make something with it,’ and would probably rather be baking cakes than eating them. Which may go some way to explaining the items I’ve chosen to pack into the Chemistry World Christmas Stocking* today.
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On the whole, scientists are probably perceived as a relatively mild-mannered bunch. They chip away at the world’s problems, solving the great questions, many simply because of a love of research. Rarely do they throw their toys out of the pram.
Until now, that is. A storm has been brewing in the UK, and researchers have finally had enough. Fine, criticise peer review. Make research assessments an admin-filled nightmare. Pay them peanuts. But threaten to cut funding for science by as much as 25 per cent, and they ain’t going to sit back and take it.
The results of the government’s comprehensive spending review are due in less than two weeks, and government departments have been warned to prepare for significant budget cuts of up to a quarter.
The scientific seed of rebellion was planted when Jenny Rohn, a cell biologist at University College London, UK, wrote a blog post declaring war: ‘No more Doctor Nice Guy, no more hiding behind our work, no more just taking things lying down like we take everything else in our profession,’ she cried. ‘If they are going to bleed us dry, we might as well try to do something before it’s too late.’ (more…)
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The UK Labour Party announced its new leader yesterday, with former climate change secretary Ed Miliband pipping his brother David to the post. So do we have any idea whether the new leader of the opposition is a friend of science?
At the RSC’s Parliamentary Links Day in June, he admitted that his Mum had wanted both he and his brother to become scientists, and persuaded them to take A-level physics. ‘I came off rather better from it than [David] did, but neither of us showed any aptitude for science,’ he said.
Panic seemed to spread on Twitter this afternoon as news spread that the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) was going to cut funding for its public engagement activities. We spoke to the EPSRC earlier this week and this isn’t strictly speaking true.
The kerfuffle stems from this press release issued last week, in which the EPSRC says it is making changes to its public engagement agenda and cancelling the call for its Partnerships for Public Engagement (PPE) scheme this autumn. (more…)
Last week saw 11 Members of Parliament (MPs) appointed to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. With all the hoohah recently over the amount of scientific expertise in the UK parliament, surely these would be the cream of the scientific crop.
We conducted an admittedly very brief (and unscientific) internet trawl to see if we could find out what kind of scientific interests/credentials these new committee members have, and get an idea of what kind of experience they’ll bring to bear when scrutinising governmental departments’ activities in relation to science and technology.
The highlights of our quick search are below – please do leave a comment at the bottom if you think we’ve missed anything significant. You can also find out how MPs voted on various issues on the They Work for You website. (more…)
An interesting letter was published in the British Medical Journal today about the alternative products that have popped up to replace the now illegal drug mephedrone.
One product that seems to have become particularly popular is known as NRG-1, also advertised as naphyrone (napthylpyrovalerone). (more…)
This week the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the winners of the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards, which promote innovation and use of green chemistry for pollution prevention.
A couple of noteworthy winners include Dow and BASF, who were recognised for developing an environmentally friendly process for producing propylene oxide using hydrogen peroxide, and a joint award for Merck & Co and Codexis, who developed a greener way to make Merck’s best selling diabetes drug Januvia (sitagliptin). (more…)
The Royal Society has recognised exceptional work in chemistry as it announces the 2010 recipients of its prestigious awards and medals.
The Davy Medal, awarded annually for ‘an outstandingly important recent discovery in any branch of chemistry’ this year went to Carol Robinson for her ‘ground-breaking and novel use of mass spectrometry for the characterisation of large protein complexes’. Robinson won the RSC’s prize for mass spectrometry a few years ago and was profiled in Chemistry World – read about her and her work here.
Other winners this year include Andre Geim at the University of Manchester, UK, who won the Hughes Medal (awarded for an original discovery in the physical sciences) for his discovery of graphene, and Martyn Poliakoff at the University of Nottingham was awarded the Leverhulme Medal for ‘an outstandingly significant contribution in the field of pure or applied chemistry or engineering’, for his work in green chemistry and supercritical fluids. Poliakoff is also familiar to many as the face of the ever popular Periodic Table of Videos. (more…)
The announcement by Craig Venter and his team last week that they had managed to create a man-made microbe (nattily nicknamed ‘Synthia’) was a major scientific achievement, but has caused a bit of a kerfuffle.
Whether it’s Nobel prize winner John Sulston FRS (an organic chemist by training) fearing that an attempt to patent the ‘synthetic life form’ will hamper research, or President Obama calling on the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues to look into the implications of this latest milestone, it’s clear that science is beginning to wade into uncharted waters as synthetic biology progresses.
So to help you make sense of the science and the potential of synthetic biology, we thought we’d pull together a selection of Chemistry World articles that look at this fascinating field. (more…)
To mark World Hepatitis Day today, we thought we’d bring together some of the stories we’ve run over the last year or so highlighting the work that’s being done to try to prevent and treat hepatitis.
There are five types of hepatitis – A, B, C, D and E. Hep A and E are usually caused by contaminated food or water, while B, C and D are usually caused by contact with infected bodily fluids (such as blood transfusions). Hepatitis A, B and C are the most common, but while A is often a short term infection and rarely serious, hepatitis B and C can be more problematic. (more…)