Just SIX Weeks to Go!

There are just six weeks remaining until the start of Lab Innovations 2013.

Lab Innovations is an exciting event for the entire laboratory industry. The show provides a forum for manufacturers, suppliers and distributors alike gather and do business.

Our team at Kinetica are exhibiting at the show, and are there to offer our recruitment solutions – whether you are seeking a new role or on the lookout for new staff!

Not only are we exhibiting our recruitment expertise, but we are also inviting you to take part in the Batak Challenge we have available, for a chance to win an iPad Mini!

The Batak Challenge is a reaction game that will test your hand to eye co-ordination, reaction, fitness and memory to the limit. With very high scores are available – it is no surprise that Formula 1 drivers, such as Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button have both been world record holders with scores in excess of 110!

We are exhibiting at stand C3 on both Wednesday 6th and Thursday 7th of November at NEC, Birmingham, and look forward to seeing you there!


10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Periodic Table

  • The Periodic Table has served chemistry students since 1869, when it was created by Dmitri Mendeleev, a professor at the University of St. Petersburg.
  • With a publisher’s deadline looming, Mendeleev didn’t have time to describe all 63 then-known elements. So he turned to a data set of atomic weights meticulously gathered by others.
  • To determine those weights, scientists had passed currents through various solutions to break them up into their constituent atoms. Responding to a battery’s polarity, the atoms of one element would go one way, the atoms of another, a different way. The atoms were collected in separate containers and then weighed.
  • From this process, chemists determined relative weights, which were all Mendeleev needed to establish a useful ranking.
  • Fond of card games, he wrote the weight for each element on a separate index card and sorted them as in solitaire. Elements with similar properties formed a “suit” that he placed in columns ordered by ascending atomic weight.
  • Now he had a new Periodic Law (“elements arranged according to the value of their atomic weights present a clear periodicity of properties”) that described one pattern for all 63 elements.
  • Where Mendeleev’s table had blank spaces, he correctly predicted the weights and chemical behaviours of some missing elements-gallium, scandium and germanium.
  • But when argon was discovered in 1894, it didn’t fit into any of Mendeleev’s columns, so he denied its existence, just as he did for helium, neon, krypton, xenon, and radon!
  • In 1902 he acknowledged he had not anticipated the existence of these overlooked, incredibly unreactive elements the noble gases – which now constitute the entire eighth group of the table.
  • Atomic love: take a modern periodic table, cut out the complicated middle columns, and fold it once along the middle of the Group 4 elements. The groups that kiss have complementary electron structures and will combine with each other!

Australia Aims to Benefit Health, Physics & the Environment…

ANSTO (Australian Nuclear Science & Technology Organisation) and Monash University in Australia have collaborated to fund important new projects that will use state-of-the-art equipment to benefit the environment, human health and physics.

With the hope of bringing together some of the nation’s most intelligent minds and best scientific infrastructure, the projects will include:

  • Understanding radiation damage in next generation nuclear materials
  • Investigating new targeted cancer treatments
  • Creating new methods for imaging matter at the atomic scale
  • Investigating the nature of chemical bonds using complementary X-ray and electron diffraction
  • Using feathers from migratory birds as markers for environmental health
  • Predicting the likelihood of algal blooms
  • Understanding how water is stored in river banks

Meet the New Non-Meat Burger!

Following on from our blog post back in August, which briefly detailed the use of microbiology to eradicate potential future food shortages, scientists at Maastricht University in the Netherlands have developed methods to grow muscle tissue and form it to resemble a burger!

The culinary creation, referred to as ‘cultured beef’, is formed using the harvested stem cells of a living cow. The cells are then fed which leads them to multiply by millions, and over a period of time, the cells are formed in to strips – although over 20,000 are required to make just ONE cultured burger! To enhance the flavour and texture, beet juice and breadcrumbs were added to the finished product.

The purpose of the experiment was to create meat without the use of animals, as raising livestock requires the use of land, the harvesting of crops to feed them, and the animals also produce methane which contributes to global warming.

Don’t rush to the nearest supermarket JUST yet, as the cost of this experiment totalled at over $300,000!

With the global population estimated at 9 billion by 2050, this experiment is an important advance for the future population who are expected to struggle with providing food for such a massive number of mouths!

Sunshine in December! Could We Ever Control the Weather?

With rumours circulating of snowfall in October, imagine the ability to control the weather. Once considered impossible, this could potentially be a reality in coming years!

Swiss researchers have used technology to promote cloud formation which could allow for rainfall far out at sea or over uninhibited land.

A conference at the World Meteorological Organisation is to be held to discuss ultra-short lasers as a promising tool for weather modulation and climate studies.

Weather experts are to discuss whether launching the lasers into the atmosphere could control lightning and also assist in cloud production and rainfall. Researchers have begun testing the equipment outside, by firing short pulses of laser light at the sky.

TB – Human Origin?

Researchers from the Swiss Tropical & Public Health Institute have traced the origins of human tuberculosis back to hunter-gatherer groups that lived in Africa, over 70,000 years ago!

The common belief is that TB originated in animals around 10,000 years ago, prior to spreading to humans.

TB in humans causes serious breathing difficulties, and is usually treated with powerful antibiotics. However, some human forms of TB have now become resistant to some antibiotics, with the bacteria remaining a global threat having causing 1.4 million deaths in 2011 according to the World Health Organisation.

If we can understand how TB and humans co-developed, it may help find a way to reduce its prominence.

The question on the lips of many scientists now, is how tuberculosis managed to survive for 60,000 years among small groups of people.

A Nice Cup of Coffee? Perhaps Not!

We all know that caffeine during pregnancy is bad news – but especially so for mice!

Scientists from the French National Institute of Health & Medical Research and the University of Coimbra in Portugal, have discovered that the common stimulant altered the brain cells of newborns mice (pups), whose mothers had consumed the drug during and after pregnancy. Those pups later grew up to have memory problems.

In the experiments, female mice drank water treated with caffeine during pregnancy and whilst nursing their young. The amount of caffeine the mice consumed was equivalent to the amount a woman would receive from three of four cups of coffee.

As adults, the mice exposed to caffeine had fewer nerve cells in their hippocampus, than those who hadn’t. Researchers found a subtle change to the brain’s wiring when they later put the adult mice through memory tests. Mice usually prefer to explore a new object rather than spend time with a familiar one. But not the caffeine-exposed mice! In tests, they did not investigate new objects as much as the mice not exposed to the stimulant. The researchers conclude that the caffeine-exposed mice suffered some memory problems.

Although the study shows brain changes to caffeine exposure in baby mice, these new findings may not necessarily relate to pregnant humans, as there is a stark difference between the development of mouse and human brains.


Customised Colombian Skulls…

Researchers at Colombian Universities EAFIT and CES have developed a biocompatible skull implant based on tomography, nicknamed ‘Smartbone’.

Invaluable to patients with severe head injuries, Smartbone is rumoured to be around 50 – 60% cheaper than similar skull prostheses from the US, where around 85% of skull implants are imported from!

With the aid of software, a 3D reconstruction of a patient’s tomogram is created, with the resulting customised prosthesis replacing the damaged skull area.

It is estimated that there are over 350 head-trauma cases in Colombia every year, and six patients have undergone treatment involving the use of the biocompatible implant, resulting in excellent function and aesthetic recoveries.

The use of Smartbone means that areas of the skull can be replaced for those suffering with head injuries, with a reduction in surgical risk, bleeding, time under anaesthesia and chances of infection.

Fukushima Disaster – Ice Wall Plans

We all remember the harrowing events that led to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster after the back in March 2011.

Although the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami occurred over two years ago, it appears that Japan is still suffering the consequences, as it’s government have announced plans to allocate an estimated 47bn yen ($473m, £304m) to build a frozen wall of ice underneath the Fukushima nuclear plant.

The disaster at the plant resulted in the cooling systems of the reactors failing, with three melting down. The constant pumping of water to cool the plant’s remaining reactors creates 400 tonnes of contaminated water daily, and although this water is being stored in temporary tanks, an estimated 300 tonnes of the radioactive liquid has leaked.

Cancer has a Killer!

Excellent news – stem cells have been turned into cancer-killing immune cells, giving hope to those suffering from cancer, as this could allow mass production of treatment in those cases where immune therapy works.

Our immune systems not only fight off invaders that arrive from outside the body, but they are also able to identify cells that have gone bad inside our bodies, too.

The immune system, however, has its limits, and although cancer cells are similar to ‘normal’ ones, some evolve ways to avoid detection, and can even use the immune system’s own signals to tamp down its activity.

A number of researchers have been looking for ways to re-establish the immune system’s superiority, boosting it in a way that it once again clears out cancer cells. One option for doing so has been to simply boost the cells that already recognise a tumour by isolating them and growing them in large numbers in culture.

Researchers have figured out a way of taking stem cells, converting them into immune cells, and directing them to attack one type of cancer. Thought not all types of cancer are likely to be vulnerable to this attack, techniques like these may ultimately help control the ones that the immune system does attack.