Some recommended apps that can be downloaded from the Apple App Store:
Solar Walk, described below.
This app is a video library of talks given by some of the world’s most fascinating people, free to download and watch. The official TED app has all the talks that can be found on the website on a range of subjects, including but not limited to education, technology, medicine, business, science and music, or any combination thereof. There are currently over 1,100 talks that are updated every week. Videos can be watched in high or low resolution, straight away or saved for later offline viewing. Search criteria can be limited by tags (such as jaw-dropping, courageous or ingenious), topics, guest speakers and even the amount of time you have to watch.
2. Visible Body 2
An interactive model of the human body, Visible Body is a great app for people with a keen interest in anatomy. Although expensive, it is ideal for students learning anatomy with amazing 3D models of structures, the visibility of which can be changed to view from any angle. Images can be annotated and come with definitions and a short summary of the structure and its function. It is highly recommended for those studying Biology or anyone who would like to learn more about the human body using a detailed, interactive tool available on their phone or tablet.
3. Solar Walk
Solar Walk is a time-sensitive interactive model full of information about our solar system and the Milky Way galaxy. Great graphics and an easy to use interface have resulted in an app that is fun and educational. Planets can be seen close up with their moons and their inner structures viewed, as well as comets, man-made satellites and current missions such as the Curiosity mission on Mars. The entire galaxy can be explored from any viewpoint by zooming and spinning. Information about each planet including their trajectories, historical facts and exploration can be found when viewing the planet. (Picture above)
4. Khan Academy
Videos explaining many of the topics found on high school curriculums consisting of narrated sketches with subtitles that explain difficult concepts in a very easy to understand manner. Highly recommended for those studying Biology, Maths, Physics, Finance and Economics, Humanities and Chemistry at the A2 level in England, it is a good app to consolidate learning done in the classroom. Almost anything can be learnt for free using this app and its many videos in a short space of time.
To see more, visit http://www.khanacademy.org/
A fun app for viewing 3D models of molecules that can be manipulated using your fingers. Molecules uses the RCSB Protein Data Bank (http://www.rcsb.org/pdb ), so almost any biological molecule can be downloaded for viewing on the app. Once downloaded, the model can be rotated and zoomed in upon, enabling it to be looked at from almost any angle in ball-and-stick and spacefilling modes.
Elemental is an app useful for sketching chemical compounds on your phone or tablet for free. Structures can be drawn by dragging atoms and bonds onto the blank drawing space, and once you have created a compound you can calculate properties and tweet your molecule if you would like to. Chemical reactions can also be sketched out and saved to your cameral roll. This app is recommended because it’s great if you want to draw out a reaction clearly, create a specific compound and save its structure or just want to play around with the full periodic table and see what you can make. It’s useful for those studying A-Level Chemistry at school.
7. The Elements
An interactive periodic table that provides plenty of information about each element, including its discovery, historical and scientific facts such as atomic weight, density, melting point, boiling point and other interesting facts. Stunning high resolution 360 degree visuals of each element make this app (available on the iPhone and iPad) worth its price of £6.99. Useful and highly recommended for those studying A-Level Chemistry at school, it’s also great for anyone who wants to know more about the periodic table and the elements.
FAQs: YSJ Photography prize 2013
What are the themes?
The themes are as follows: Medicine in Culture (open to anyone 18 and under), Speedy Science (open to those under 12), Networking (open to those of ages 12-15) and Science in Detail (open to those of ages 16-18). For the theme open to anyone 18 and under, there is a first prize of £150 (£50 for the runner-up) and for the other themes it is £75 for first prize (and £25 for each runner up).
Who is the competition open to?
Entries are welcome from students of any school, anywhere in the world. However, candidates must be of 18 years or under on the 2nd February 2013 and they must select the themes open to their age group.
How many themes am I allowed to enter in?
You must be of the correct age for the group you select as of 2nd February 2013, the Medicine in Culture theme is open to anyone 18 and under. You may only enter a maximum of one photograph for each theme that is open to you, so it is allowed to enter the Medicine in Culture theme as well as the theme of age relevance.
What are the prizes?
There will be one prize awarded per winner and runner-up of each category in the form of Amazon vouchers. For the theme open to anyone 18 and under there is a first prize of £150 (£50 for the runner up) and for the other themes there is a £75 first prize (£25 for the runner up). The winning photographs, along with the runners-up and other highly commended, will be published in a forthcoming issue of Young Scientists Journal.
Who are the judges and how is it judged?
The panel of judges includes: Miss Christina Astin (chair IAB Young Scientists and Head of Science at the King’s School Canterbury), Ajay Sharman (regional director of STEMNET) and Fiona Jenkinson (Chief Editor, YSJ). The images will be judged on both an artistic and scientific basis, including image aesthetic, quality, originality and scientific relevance. We are open to any abstract interpretations of the themes.
What is the Young Scientists Journal?
The Young Scientists Journal is a free online journal for scientists aged 12-20 written, edited and run by a team of 12-20 year-olds.
How do I enter?
Go to our website www.ysjournal.com and after logging in as a user, click on the button of the YSJ photography competition. You will then find a form in which you must submit the following details: name and e-mail address, age, theme selected, teacher, school you attend, date of picture taken and what camera/phone it was taken with and finally 150 -250 words on what inspired you to take this photo and the science behind it. You then attach the photograph separately under file attachments. Please note that the maximum file size is 8MB.
Am I allowed to photo-edit?
Minor photo editing is permitted, however heavily edited photos (i.e. major distortions of the original image) may be disregarded by the judges. The extent of photo editing must be stated in the comment below the image.
I’m using a web server such as Internet Explorer and text is not working. What do I do?
For some reason we are occasionally experiencing issues with certain web servers, if this is the case we advise switching to another in order to submit the photograph. If this is not feasible, please let us know via the forum and we’ll give you more instructions as to what to do.
What are the opening and closing dates?
The competition commences as of the 2nd February 2013 and all entries must be received by Young Scientists Journal on the website by 01 May 2013.
If you have any other questions, please join the forum on our website.
Please note that all pictures must be verified as your own. You cannot use copyrighted material. Anyone found doing so will immediately be disqualified from the competition. The same consequences apply for anyone who does not meet the age criteria. Find out more at www.ysjournal.com or join the forum on the website if you have any queries.
Our thanks to STEMNET for providing the funding for the prizes.
The Young Scientists Journal (a free online journal for scientists aged 12-20 run by a team of 12-20 year-olds) is launching a science photography competition. Click here to submit a photo or click the link below!
We invite students aged 18 and under to take photos using any camera, phone or other device to compete for prizes according to their age group, related to a scientific theme.
The images will be judged on both an artistic and scientific basis, including image aesthetic, quality, originality and scientific relevance. We are open to any abstract interpretations of the themes. Heavily-edited photos may be disregarded by the judges.
For inspiration as to the subject matter of the photograph, a theme has been chosen for each age group and an additional overall theme (which is open to anyone 18 and under). It is essential that the submitted photograph is related to the chosen/relevant theme:
(age on 1st Feb 13)
Prize (in Amazon vouchers)
General theme (open to anyone 18 and under):
Medicine in Culture
Science in Detail
Entries are welcomed from students of any school, anywhere in the world. Participants in this competition may only enter a maximum of one photograph for each theme that is open to them.
How to Enter
Go to our website www.ysjournal.com and after logging in as a user, click here to submit your photo. You will then find a form in which you must submit the following details: Name and e-mail address, age, theme selected, teacher, school you attend, date of picture taken and what camera/phone it was taken with and finally 150 -250 words on what inspired you to take this photo and the science behind it. You then attach the photograph separately under file attachments. Please note that the maximum file size is 8MB.
It is stressed that entrants must be of the correct age for their group on 2nd February 2013 and they must select the themes open to that age group.
All entries must be received by Young Scientists Journal by 15th May 2013.
There will be one prize (see above) awarded per winner and runner-up of each category in the form of Amazon vouchers. The winning photographs, along with the runners up and other highly commended, will be published in a forthcoming issue of Young Scientist Journal.
The panel of judges includes: Miss Christina Astin (chair IAB Young Scientists and Head of Science at the King’s School Canterbury), Ajay Sharman (regional director of STEMNET) and Fiona Jenkinson (head of the editorial team, YSJ).
If any problems are experience in entering the competition please join the forum entitled Photography Competition 2013 and we hope to get back to you within a few days.
Please note that all pictures must be verified as your own. You cannot use copyrighted material. Anyone found doing so will immediately be disqualified from the competition. The same consequences apply for anyone who does not meet the age criteria. If information from other sources must be used in the text description, the source must be referenced. Participants in this competition may only enter a maximum of one photograph for each theme that is open to them, if many are entered under a theme by the same candidate, only the first photograph to be entered by them will be accepted. Find out more at www.ysjournal.com under FAQ or join the forum on the website if you have any queries.
Our thanks to STEMNET for providing the funding for the prizes.
For more information, read the FAQs.
Researchers from Japan have for the first time created a ‘marshmallow-like’ superhydrophobic aerogel that acts effectively as a sponge to soak up hydrocarbons and can then be ‘wrung out’ and reused.
Previous materials of this type have been created with varying success due to shortcomings that would affect large-scale clean up (for example, on the scale of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico) including a lack of hydrophobicity, expensive production methods and a one use limit.
The material was first reported in 2011 when the research team was working on developing flexible and transparent aerogels, and unintentionally made the opaque material that has ‘remarkable’ oil-absorbing properties. When testing the separation of hexane from water, the researchers discovered that the material removed all the hexane without changing the amount of water due to its superhydrophobicity. The material has yet to be tested on viscous crude oil as it is not readily available, and was instead tested on a mineral oil similar to medium crude oil, which resulted in a slow but unproblematic absorption.
The marshmallow is made in a simple and inexpensive process using reagents that can be obtained fairly easily, although it is not a continuous process, which would prove problematic when the material is required in bulk in a limited time – such as for a large oil spill. The most important characteristic of the material is its ability to be wrung out and reused. It also boasts a wide temperature stability of around 300°C to -196°C. Its use is also not limited to mopping up oil from oil spills – other instances require the removal of organic compounds from an aqueous medium would also make use of the material (such as the treatmet of waste water from industrial processes), which could be tailored using chemicals for a vast array of applications.
To read more, click here.
The hairs in the ear that detect sounds (auditory hair cells) have been grown in mice whose hair cells had been damaged. The mice did not have their full hearing restored, but an increase in their measured hearing threshold was recorded.
Rows of the auditory hair cells in the ear:
Deafness due to hair cell loss can result from noise exposure, aging, toxins, infections and some antibiotics and anti-cancer drugs. Hearing loss affects more than 10 million people in the UK alone, 3.7 million of whom are of working age. Noise-induced hearing loss is reported by more than 150 people in the UK each year.
Deafness as a result of damage to the auditory hair cells in the cochlea is usually irreversible as under normal circumstances the hair cells do not regenerate. When the scientists on the research team injected the mice with a drug, the creation of new hair cells was induced. The mice then went from hearing nothing at all to picking up some of the sounds around them.
The drug used was chosen because it stimulated the growth of hair cells when added to stem cells that were taken from the ear. When it was given to the mice the hair cells were regenerated and after analysing their location, the improvement in hearing was shown to be related to the areas the hair cells grew back.
The results obtained with the mice are very promising. It is believed that this could be a potential therapeutic approach to treating deafness in humans, although human trials are still far in the future.
To read more, visit here or:
On Saturday the search for life beneath the ice in the Antarctic ran into a complication with the main boiler used to heat the water that powers the drill by melting through the thick ice.
A circuit controlling the primary burner – required to start the boiler and so begin drilling – failed to start on commencement of the drilling. The technical difficulties were luckily discovered early on so a lot of fuel remains for when the problem has been fixed. A back-up boiler is in place and was used successfully to ensure the water needed for drilling was melted, although drilling is unlikely to start again until the 21st of December when a replacement component for the primary burner has arrived and been set up. The problem with having to restart drilling lies in that the whole system was designed to be used in one go, as there is the danger of ice forming in the drilling pipes, although there is currently no issue with this.
Read more here.
The Voyager spacecraft have been on a trajectory towards the edge of the solar system for 35 years, since they completed their first mission to tour the outer planets. Voyager 1 is currently the most distant man-made object from Earth and is close to becoming the first to enter interstellar space, the region outside of the sun’s sphere of influence.
Voyager 1, a spacecraft weighing 722 kg and powered by plutonium that was launched in September 1977, has entered a previously unknown region of space known as the magnetic highway (due to magnetic field lines allowing low-energy particles to move out of the heliosphere freely and cosmic rays to move in from interstellar space) and is close to becoming the first manmade object to enter interstellar space. It is on the edge of the heliosphere (the region of space under the influence of the Earth’s Sun, a ‘bubble’ of charged particles blown into the space around the Solar System by the solar wind) in the heliosheath, which is its outermost layer.
They are fuelled by the radioactive decay of plutonium-238; heat from this decay is converted into electricity, which powers them. Their lifetime is considered to be compatible with the length of the mission as they appear to be close to crossing into interstellar space, and scientists are certain that the spacecraft will last long enough to do so. Voyager 1 and 2 both receive and send data to the Deep Space Network (DSN) about their surroundings, helping scientists map the unexplored regions of space.
The Voyager 1:
It is impossible to predict exactly when the Voyager might cross into interstellar space, but it could take up to around 2 years. Voyager 2 is also traveling towards interstellar space, but will likely reach it several years after Voyager 1.
Read more at: http://www.astronomynow.com/news/n1212/05voyager/
Passengers can to fly to Australia in four hours (instead of around 23 hours) with the help of a new engine cooling system invented by British scientists to revolutionise space flight.
The new ‘Sabre’ (Synergistic Air-breathing Rocket Engine) cycle air-cooling system engine is capable of cooling the air entering it from 1,000°C to -150°C in one hundredth of a second without the formation of ice, which would block air flow.
This means that a jet engine can operate at much higher power levels safely and reduce flight times, reaching speeds of over 2,000mph. The flight would probably be the cost of a business or first class standard flight.
Because updating standard engines would require the entire engine to be redesigned ‘Sabre’ will only be used for around 10% of flights. The ‘Sabre’ system works because tiny pipes arranged in a swirl and filled with condensed helium extract heat from the air before it enters the engine. This would usually cause the formation of ice, but a special system was invented to prevent this from happening.
The engine was designed with the purpose of revolutionising space flight as it would allow aircraft to fly directly into orbit and back to Earth in only one stage. Current jet engines for space flight are not yet powerful enough for launch straight into space without overheating.
‘Skylon’ is an aircraft that may be developed to use this technology, taking off like a jet engine and burning the oxygen in air (allowing it to carry less weight and therefore have more thrust relative to its weight) until it switches to ‘rocket mode’ and burns its own fuel supply. ‘Skylon’ could fly into orbit in one smooth phase instead of going through several phases of using disposable rockets in flight.
An artist’s impression of Skylon:
Over 17 000 delegates are expected to fly into Doha, Qatar, for talks on climate change over the next two weeks.
Some commentators are confident that the talks could make real progress towards cuts in carbon emissions.
Others are sceptical.
We can’t help cringeing at the irony of all those air miles, the factt hat Qatar has among the highest emissions on the planet, plus the football World Cup which will take place there in 50 degree C heat in 2022, with its air-conditioned stadiums…
Find out more about the climate change talks here.
The Bexsero or 4CMenB vaccine, which protects against group B meningococcus, has recently been granted a licence for the immunisation of children older than two months.
Meningitis is characterised by the inflammation of the meninges (the protective linings of the brain and spinal cord). Infection by a variety of organisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi, can cause meningitis, with bacterial meningitis being fatal. Meningitis B is the most common cause of meningococcal diseases in Europe, and is considered to be the most deadly form of the disease. In the UK, meningitis B is responsible for 90% of cases, with children under the age of five the most susceptible to the disease. Around 1,870 people are affected every year and 1 in 10 sufferers die, whilst 1 in 4 are left with life-changing after effects such as brain damage or limb loss.
The Bexsero vaccine was manufactured by the company Novartis after 20 years of development, and has been shown to cover 73% of the strains affecting the UK. Meningitis UK wants the vaccination to be introduced into the immunisation programme as soon as possible, but when it will be introduced is still uncertain.
There are already vaccines for other strains of meningitis (such as the Meningitis C, Hib and pneumococcal vaccines) that are part of the childhood immunisation program in the UK, but a vaccine for meningitis B has not been available until now.
Subglacial lakes are formed when geothermal heat beneath Antarctica melts the ice from below. Gravity and ice pressure cause this water to flow and collect in the valleys of the continent, far beneath the surface of the ice.
Lake Ellsworth is a subglacial lake beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, covered by around 3.4 kilometres of ice and estimated to be about 10 kilometres long and 150 metres deep. Martin Siegert, the man who discovered Lake Ellsworth in 1996, plans to drill through the ice next week with a team of scientists from England in hope of finding forms of microbial life that have evolved down there and an explanation of the history the ice sheet, which has grown and receded over time.
There is currently a great deal of scientific interest in subglacial lakes in Antarctica. A team of Russian scientists drilled into the first lake – Lake Vostok – in February, and an American team are also set to begin drilling into Lake Whillans next week. It is believed that there could be organisms beneath the ice that have evolved to cope with high water pressure, darkness and low nutrient levels. The team from Russia discovered thermophiles (bacteria that thrive in high temperatures) in the rock around the lake, although the top layers of lake itself were sterile. The lake is being revisited for further samples by the Russian team, but Lake Ellsworth may produce better results as it is much smaller (therefore there is a smaller area to search) and the ice above it is a kilometre thinner, making it more easily accessible.
These teams are the pioneers of subglacial research, but these three sites will not alone be able to explain the relationship between the lakes, rivers and ice sheets, or be able to reveal all the organisms that have been hidden beneath them.
Read more here.
Telomeres – protective regions on the ends of chromosomes preventing the DNA from being eaten away– may be linked to risk of dying, according to a new study.
Telomeres are regions of nucleotide sequences that repeat at each end of chromosomes. They prevent the chromosomes from deteriorating or fusing with another chromosome. They shorten over time as DNA replicates, and protect the chromosome itself from shortening during each cell division.
Shorter telomeres appear to coincide with a higher risk of death. Telomeres shorten with age, and shorter telomeres are already associated with some diseases. Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente and the University of California, San Francisco have measured telomere length in a cohort of over 110, 000 people in an on-going project that aims to uncover the link between genetics and health. This is the largest study to investigate the role of the telomeres in health. The 10% of people with the shortest telomere lengths had a more than 20% greater risk of dying than those with longer telomeres. The health status and ages of those who died is still unknown. This means that how much of an effect the telomere length has on people is unclear.
Read more here
Before DNA, scientists believe that the molecule that encoded genetic instructions was RNA. But what came before RNA?
AEG is a minute molecule that can link together to form chains, thus providing a backbone for peptide nucleic acids. It could be the answer according to scientists from the US and Sweden who found the molecule in some of the most primitive organisms on Earth – cyanobacteria (bacteria obtaining their energy through photosynthesis). This discovery was unexpected as AEG has never been discovered in living organisms before, and has only ever been synthesised in the pharmaceutical industry to slow or stop certain genetic diseases. They were able to find AEG produced within cyanobacteria from Guam, Japan, Qatar and the Gobi desert of Mongolia; however at the current time there isn’t enough data at present on AEG and its role within the organism to draw any certain conclusions on its exact role in the genetic makeup of such primitive organisms.
Read more here
It has been confirmed by the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson that the disease will not be able to be eradicated from the countryside. Efforts are now being focused on slowing the spread of the disease and encouraging resistance to it. Mature trees – which are important for wildlife – are being left whilst younger diseased trees would be cut down and destroyed. They are trying to locate trees with a genetic resistance that might survive in areas that have not yet been affected in an attempt to restructure the woodlands so that they are more resistant to the disease.
Read more here
Out of 92% of the sites surveyed in England and all of Wales the presence of ‘Ash dieback disease’, caused by the Chalara fraxinea fungus, has been reported at 115 sites, and seven sites in Scotland. It is characterised by loss of leaves and crown dieback, possibly leading to tree death. Trees in forests, urban areas and nurseries have been reported to become affected and die not just in the UK but in the rest of Europe as well. The pathogen was newly identified after the first cases were reported in Poland in 1992, where trees were reported to die in large numbers. This disease has the potential to devastate the country’s landscape, especially since it appears to be too late to prevent its establishment in the UK. Trees confirmed to have the disease have been felled across all these sites. ‘Biosecurity’ is being enforced in areas where the disease has been reported as visitors are asked to wash shoes, bicycle and car tires before they leave the area to try and prevent its spread. The ash tree is a unique tree and an important part of the ecosystem, and some fear that if they become extinct some other rare species may become even rarer.
Hurricane Sandy – also known as ‘Frankenstorm’ – started in the Caribbean Sea on the 19th of October 2012 and was deemed to only have a 20% chance of developing into a superstorm by the U.S National Hurricane Centre. Climatic conditions, however, were to pull winds in this area into a counter clockwise rotation, and so the storm began to increase in energy until it became Hurricane Sandy. She left at least 69 people dead across the Caribbean as she made her way north before meteorological conditions lead to Hurricane Sandy becoming the ‘perfect storm’ – one guaranteed to devastate the East Coast of the U.S. High pressure to the east blocked Sandy from moving away from the coastline as she came up from the south, as the hurricane would have under normal conditions, and instead merged with Hurricane Sandy to produce an even more powerful and rare ‘hybrid’ storm. Hurricane Sandy is an example of a high magnitude, low frequency event occurring under rare and unpredictable conditions. The question of whether the magnitude of Hurricane Sandy was the result of increasing global temperatures currently remains unanswered; at present scientists are studying the events that took place throughout the life cycle of Hurricane Sandy to help judge whether such storms are likely to occur in the future.
Read more here.
Titanium rings containing a panel of glass were implanted into the abdominal wall of mice in an effort to observe the spread of cancer (tumour metastasis) which occurs when cells from a primary tumour migrate to other parts of the body where they may come together to form secondary tumours. This mechanism of this is not greatly understood as it is not easy to observe the movement of the cells inside the body, which is precisely what this experiment sought to overcome. The ‘porthole’ enabled the researchers to view the internal organs, including the kidneys and small intestine. Individual tumour cells marked with fluorescent dye were then able to be tracked over the course of two weeks. They observed that the tumour cells appeared to move randomly about the local area before they ended at their final destination – a possibility that they had not previously considered.
Read more here.
In a trial involving almost a thousand children, an EEG brain trace (used to record electrical brain activity) has shown differences between those with autism and those without.
Scientists have found evidence from children aged from two to twelve, over thirty-three different EEG patterns. More work is needed to confirm it.
To read more, see: